It was an ugly game for the Las Vegas Raiders this past Sunday in Atlanta. As for their first-round picks, it produced uneven results.
The Raiders were thoroughly humiliated by the Atlanta Falcons, that much isn’t debatable. Be that as it may, there are always positives even the worse of defeats. While the score may not reflect it, the Raiders’ defense showed improvement overall. Statistically speaking, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, the Raiders’ pass defense has improved, going from 31st with a 102.4 passer rating the last three years to ninth and 89.2 this season.
Here's a positive #Raiders defensive stat: They were 31st in passer rating allowed the past two years (102.4). They are 9th this season at 89.2
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 1, 2020
Maybe those are baby steps but head coach Jon Gruden and the Silver and Black will take it. Just as it has taken time for the defense to develop, the same will hold true for rookies Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette.
Did Ruggs and Arnette Step Up For The Raiders In Week 12?
Pro Football Focus spotlighted the Raiders’ first-round rookies and the results were mixed. Ruggs received a 57.2 overall grade, his on-field impact goes beyond stats but at some point, fans want to see some numbers. The trend is certainly looking positive despite the lopsided loss, Ruggs caught three passes for 56 yards on Sunday. He also could’ve added a touchdown to his stat sheet had he been able to put his foot on the white sideline before taking off as PFF pointed out.
Arnette also didn’t fare much better grade-wise, he has a 50.7 overall after Week 12. The rookie suffered a concussion which meant he only totaled eight snaps, a setback both on the field and personally with that head trauma. PFF pointed out that he was targeted once before being taken out, having given up a 16-yard catch. Injuries are a part of the game and teams, for the most part, can’t control them unless you’re the Los Angeles Chargers.
For Arnette, to say his health has been the biggest issue isn’t too far-fetched. A thumb injury, a concussion, and a Covid diagnosis have decimated a rookie campaign that many were excited for. Surrendering a 132.1 passing rating is concerning along with an 80 percent completion rate per PFF.
No one’s calling these two youngsters busts by any stretch. Unfortunately, there are reasons to be concerned, especially with Arnette. We can only hope that both of these Raiders can continue to grow.
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*Top Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images