With a chip on quarterback Derek Carr’s shoulder and new offensive weapons on hand, Adam Schein of NFL Media ranked the Las Vegas Raiders seventh in his top nine offenses for 2020.
The case for offensive improvement starts with the passing game
The Raiders offense steadily improved on paper this past offseason. On one hand, they signed veterans Nelson Agholor and Jason Witten in free agency. On the other hand, they drafted Henry Ruggs III, Lynn Bowden Jr, and Bryan Edwards.
Carr threw for a career-high 4,054 passing yards, had a completion rate of 70.4, and 7.9 yards per passing attempt. Thus, it isn’t surprising to see Schein be excited about Carr’s 2020 prospects.
“First-rounder Henry Ruggs III will stretch the field and make Tyrell Williams better served as a WR2 — not to mention, Ruggs’ extraordinary speed will open up holes underneath for promising second-year slot man Hunter Renfrow,” said Schein. “Darren Waller is a stud at tight end, coming off a 1,145-yard breakout year.”
Edwards has flashed his ability on the practice field, impressing players, and staff alike. Carr already compared him to Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams, his favorite pass catcher at Fresno State University.
“Bryan is a very violent route runner and that’s a good thing. He’s very violent, he’s very aggressive in his cuts, he reminds me — when the ball is in the air — of Davante, great ball skills.”
The Raiders running game will pave the way for the offense
Josh Jacobs intends to grow as a pass catcher and continue where he left off as a running back in his rookie year, when he amassed 1,150 yards, seven touchdowns despite playing hurt for a portion of the 2019 season. That effort led some to believe he was passed over for Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors.
“I worked on a lot of things that receivers do, not necessarily just running back routes,” said Jacobs via the Raiders website.
“Whether it’s getting off the line, or how to stack on top once you get vertical and things like that. I’ve just been working on all the technical things that receivers do and just trying to implement that into my own style and bring what I can to the table.”
Bowden could have the same effect that Ruggs will likely have on offense. The Kentucky product was drafted to play running back for the Raiders. However, he can play quarterback and wide receiver as he demonstrated in college. As a running back, expect Bowden to create mismatches against linebackers and be a dual-threat quarterback.
What did the Raiders do on offense in 2019
A majority of the NFL ran 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers) at least 50% of the time, including the Raiders at 54%, which ranked the ninth-lowest throughout the league.
However, according to Sharp Football Stats, the Raiders leaned heavily on multiple tight end sets last year for what they lacked in receivers. They used:
- 22 personnel (two running backs, two tight ends, and one wide receiver) 12%.
- 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends, and one wide receiver) 9%.
- 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers) 16%.
Only four teams used more tight ends sets in 2019: The Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders owe a part of their success on offense to Darren Waller’s ability to create mismatches through multiple alignments. According to Pro Football Focus, Waller had 1,156 yards last season, and 594 of those were achieved after the catch. That’s a little more than 50%.
The Raiders the 24th scoring offense in the 2019 season. That was due to the fact they had the third-most penalties on offense. Moreover, they ranked 22nd in passing touchdowns, and 19th in rushing touchdowns. Penalties, a lack of red-zone efficiency, and predictability hindered the Silver and Black’s ability to be an efficient offensive unit.
What should we expect from the Silver and Black’s offense in 2020?
With no preseason, a shortened offseason, and an unusual training camp, retaining the same scheme, personnel, and coaches will prove to be vital for the Raiders success this season.
The offensive players the Raiders added don’t give them an advantage in one specific area. Nonetheless, expect them to look more like the 2019 San Francisco 49ers offense with concepts like spreading the field, creating mismatches, and disguising plays.
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