The Las Vegas Raiders stuck to their winning ways and walked out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania unbeaten. Before looking ahead to their Week 3 matchup, let’s grade the offense.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr leads the league in passing yards. Not bad for a guy that only dinks and dunks, right? Sorry, I had to get that out of the way. The Raiders offense, nestled comfortably on the back of their Pro Bowl signal-caller, performed well against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. That was both encouraging and troublesome.
P.S. Spare me the “Steelers had injuries on defense” nonsense. The Raiders found themselves with plenty of injured players as well.
Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the Raiders just traveled across the country on a short week to face a vaunted defense with a 10 am PST start time. The offensive line was down three starters by the time Sunday’s final whistle blew. Bell Cow back Josh Jacobs was out with lower leg ailments, leaving the effort of establishing a ground attack nearly futile.
None of that is a big deal, at least not when your quarterback is Carr. ‘DC4′ carved up the Steelers to the tune of 382 yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful deep ball to Henry Ruggs III. Simply stated, if Carr doesn’t put on the show he did through the air, the Raiders don’t have any offensive success at all on Sunday.
I mean, at least they tried to run it…
Running Backs: D-
Free-agent signing Kenyan Drake was pegged as the high-priced backup to lead back Josh Jacobs. With Jacobs out with lower leg ailments, the spotlight brightly rested on Drake. Well, if you view him by his actual position, it wouldn’t be favorable. The Alabama product carried the ball seven times for a paltry nine yards. Drake looks better from a receiving standpoint, logging five catches on six targets for 46 yards.
Recent acquisition Peyton Barber got 13 carries and didn’t fare much better, finishing with 32 yards, most of which coming on two touches late in the fourth quarter. A lot of that is attributed to the patchwork offensive line and the aggressive and talented Pittsburgh front. Regardless, this is pretty unacceptable.
Sharing is caring for the receiving corps…
Wide Receivers: B
In Week 1, Carr hardly targeted his wideouts until the fourth quarter. This past Sunday, the Steelers mostly blanketed tight end, Darren Waller.
That created more opportunities for Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow. Both receivers would tally seven targets and haul in five catches. While many will focus on the 113-yard performance from the 2020 first-round pick Ruggs, you cannot overlook the importance of the chemistry between Renfrow and Carr.
Here’s to hoping Bryan Edwards gets more looks in Week 3. He caught all three of his targets for 40 yards.
When Darren must decoy, Foster the people…
Tight Ends: B
Waller entered Sunday’s matchup just one game short of a positional record for consecutive 100-yard games. Apparently, the Steelers got the memo on this. Pittsburgh did whatever they could to take Waller out of the passing game, which created plenty of opportunities for others, such as his fellow tight end Foster Moreau. Moreau would catch the first touchdown of the game on a beautiful throw from Carr.
Waller would eventually get open in the fourth quarter, catching five passes for 65 yards on seven targets. These numbers are pretty damn good with the way he was blanketed early on.
Can we just focus on Kolton Miller?
Offensive Line: C
At this point, we should all accept that the Raiders offensive line is a work in progress moving forward. Entering the game, Raiders were still down guard Richie Incognito and had just put their other guard, Denzelle Good, on season-ending IR. To add injury to injury, first-round pick Alex Leatherwood would exit due to a back issue after the first half.
Speaking of Leatherwood, when on the field, his struggles with pressure and untimely red zone penalties continued. This week, a (very weak) holding call wiped out an Edwards touchdown catch before the end of the second quarter. Carr was hit a handful of times but was only sacked twice despite decent pressure. The offensive line caught a break when All-Pro TJ Watt left the game with a groin injury. However, the Raiders failed to get a real running game going as constant penetration plagued the line.
All that said, Brandon Parker could have played much worse in his stint filling in for Leatherwood, Kolton Miller played great, and Andre James wasn’t nearly as bad as he was in Week 1.
Week 3 is another shot to show improvement. Let’s hope we see some.
*Top Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images