After two weeks, the Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0. One of the biggest reasons for this success is the passing offense. Let’s see how they fared against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Derek Carr shines again
Through the first two weeks of the season, Derek Carr has been nothing short of spectacular. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carr put up one of the most extraordinary performances of his career. To do so, he weathered another slow start from the offense as a whole. The lack of a run game is surely hindering this offense at times. However, once Carr got settled in, he was dealing.
In comparison to Week 1, he spread the ball around much more efficiently, and the offense was better for it. After targeting Darren Waller nineteen times versus the Baltimore Ravens, he targeted him, Henry Ruggs III, and Hunter Renfrow seven times a piece in this one.
Carr let it loose in the second half after having a touchdown taken off the board by a penalty in the first half. His first touchdown pass was a beautifully placed pass to Foster Moreau in the back of the end zone. The story, however, would be his injury in the play. After a late hit, Carr caused panic amongst Raider Nation by laying on the field. Alas, he was soon helped up, stretched out, and able to keep playing. Luckily for the Raiders because the best was yet to come for Carr. The dagger was a 61-yard bomb to the speedster in Ruggs. That was the type of play that not only changes the game but sets the tone for a season.
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) September 19, 2021
Everyone got involved
As mentioned, Carr spread the ball around in this one, making great use of these targets was Ruggs. After just two catches in Week 1, he had five receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown in this one. The big-play ability was on full display here, but more excitingly, the Raiders got him the ball in a variety of ways and to all levels of the field. If Las Vegas is to make good on their investment in him, this must continue.
For Waller, he had a fairly nondescript day on the stat sheet. Regardless, Waller’s impact is always felt by a defense. Much of the reason players like Moreau and Ruggs were able to have big plays is due to the fear the Pro Bowler presents. With five catches for 65 yards, Waller will have bigger days, but he affects defenses in ways that stats cannot represent.
Two other key contributors were Renfrow and Kenyan Drake. With his five catches and 57 yards, it’s clear that Carr trusts Renfrow as much as anyone on the team. “Third and Renfrow” has rung true multiple times already this season as he blossoms into one of the NFL’s premier slot wide receivers. Running back, Kenyan Drake has provided a quality security blanket as a check-down option. His natural ability as a pass-catcher is obvious, and he creates match-up problems due to his ability to line up all over the field.
Firing on all cylinders
By the end of the game Sunday, it was clear the Raiders’ passing offense was in a groove. After two straight weeks of facing notoriously tough defenses, the team is 2-0 on the back of their passing offense. Thus far, Carr has 817 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Firmly planting himself in the early season discussions for MVP, he is the straw that stirs the drink for the Raiders. As the offensive line and run game improve, look for the passing game to take more positive steps forward this season.
*Top Photo: Don Wright/Associated Press