At 0-3, the Las Vegas Raiders have the worst record in the league. It is unbelievable to many NFL fans, but it is downright infuriating to the members of Raider Nation. At the forefront, of course, is a struggling offense led by a first-year head coach and a hugely divisive quarterback. Even though the Tennessee Titans seemed like a weak opponent, Week 3 gave us more questions than answers.
Raiders Passing Game: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly From Derek Carr
Coming into this game, the Raiders were once again dealing with injuries on offense. Namely, both Hunter Renfrow and Andre James missed this game. Needing a wide receiver to step up, Las Vegas received a career-best game from Mack Hollins. After five catches for 66 yards last week, he went off for eight receptions, 158 yards, and a touchdown on Sunday. With the trio of Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Renfrow likely to draw the defense’s attention, there is room for Hollins to have a huge season.
In addition, the offensive line had a good game despite the absence of James. With just one sack and five QB hits allowed, the Raiders were able to keep Carr upright for most of the game. Perhaps the most impressive part of this performance rests with the two rookies, Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford. They were drafted in the third and seventh rounds of this year’s draft, and they have answered the call early in their career.
Finally, Carr showed some progression in this game. After a bad game in Week 1 and a “meh” game in Week 2, he was actually pretty good in this one. He finished with 303 passing yards and two touchdowns. He escaped the pocket more in this one as well. While he only had two rushing attempts, it was his most of the season so far. Even more exciting, he also made some really nice throws while on the move.
This is the best throw Carr has made all year in my opinion. If he would just make plays like this out of structure more often, the Raiders might honestly be 3-0 but based on what we've seen in his career so far, it'll be three more weeks before we see another one of these pic.twitter.com/JWjrPcESXt
— Jason Willis (@_JasonWillis) September 26, 2022
This play was called back due to holding, but it shows Carr at his best. In order for the Raiders to take the next step, they absolutely need their quarterback to make more plays like this when the pocket breaks down. The offensive line has been good enough so far, and Carr escaping broken pockets could make them even better.
The Bad (And The Ugly)
Another week, another disappearing act by Davante Adams. Of course, this is not his fault. In fact, Adams does his job well most of the time; he simply doesn’t get targeted enough by Carr. When in Green Bay, he made his name as a high-volume receiver who got open with ease and caught everything. Now, it seems like the Raiders have forgotten what kind of talent they have in No. 17. Simply put, five catches for 36 yards is not enough.
Now, while there is nothing inherently wrong with trick plays, they felt a bit desperate in this one. Perhaps Josh McDaniels believes he must deceive opponents in order to make big plays. While the first of the two was successful in gaining a first down, it is obviously not a repeatable play and does nothing to help the offense going forward.
Somehow, the red zone offense is still completely pitiful. With just two of their six red zone drives ending in touchdowns, this offense feels similar to how they did under Jon Gruden. Despite having three of the NFL’s best receiving options, the Raiders have no plan for short yardage. In all fairness to McDaniels, he was able to get Waller the ball twice on goal-to-go plays. However, the star tight end dropped both of them and took two touchdowns off the board.
Looking Ahead With Regard To The Raiders Passing Game
The Raiders are perhaps the league’s most confusing team. Despite being tenth in the NFL in points per game, it is clear they are leaving lots of meat on the bone. The reasons for this are numerous. Some bad play and turnovers from the quarterback, injuries, and drops from one of their best players were among them. However, the talent is so obviously there for the offense to explode in a big way.
In Week 4, Las Vegas will get another chance to face off with an AFC West foe in the Denver Broncos. In a game they absolutely have to win, the Raiders and McDaniels need to find their identity. Running the ball with Jacobs has worked, as has targeting Adams early and often. Both of these need to be pillars of the team’s game plan in every game going forward.
At 0-3, odds are the team is out of a playoff spot. Having dug a hole this deep, the team has to go on a lengthy winning streak to offset it. It will be a difficult task with the Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs up next before the bye week. Alas, they still have to play the games and, as we see every week, anything can happen.
*Top Photo: Andrew Nelles/Tennessean.com