Darren Waller

Raiders OC Points To Injuries As Reason For Waller And Renfrow Struggling

Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow find themselves struggling under new head coach Josh McDaniels after becoming offensive stars in the last couple of years. There are certainly a few reasons why this is happening. For his part, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was recently asked for his input on this development.

It appears that injuries are the primary culprit for their struggles. “Anytime you miss a guy with an injury, it’s tough to kind of get him back into the flow of things. Hunter missed some time with injury and obviously Darren missed some time with injury – most of the Kansas City game with his injury.” Lombardi’s response to the press makes sense, if you can’t get on the field, how are you supposed to make an impact? Nevertheless, you could also argue that things were trending this way long before the injuries to both Waller and Renfrow.

Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are no longer the focal points.

When the Raiders acquired Davante Adams in the offseason, it didn’t take a genius to see that he was going to be the primary offensive focus. The same thing could be said for the running game. Look at the play-calling of the last few weeks. It’s obvious McDaniels is putting emphasis on giving the ball to Josh Jacobs. In fact, No. 28 has seen a steady increase in touches over the last few games. As far as Adams goes, most fans are now familiar with the number of targets he’s seeing from Derek Carr. After receiving tons of criticism for looking his way 17 times in Week 1, Adams’s targets have fluctuated between single-digit and double-digit totals. Meanwhile, Renfrow and Waller have quickly become afterthoughts.

How does that happen? You’re talking about two Pro Bowlers at the respective positions, non-factors five games into the season. Simply put, if they can’t be on the field together, how are they supposed to gel in McDaniels’ offense? “So, we haven’t really had a chance to have those guys on the field together as a collective unit. We’re working towards that,” said Lombardi. Renfrow missed two games this season with a concussion, and his efforts have been racked by ball security issues. His three fumbles have been costly and have only compounded his ineffectiveness.

The Raiders’ star tight end is having a rocky 2022 season, so far.

Oppositely, Waller has been in the news since the offseason due to injuries and talks surrounding a contract extension. Even though he has appeared in all five games for the Raiders, Waller’s impact has been largely null. At this juncture, Waller has just 16 catches for 175 yards. Not exactly All-Pro material after becoming one of the highest-paid tight ends. Waller’s drops (2) have also been absolute momentum killers. Had he made those big catches against the Tennessee Titans, all would have likely been forgiven.

Now enter Monday Night Football. Then, dismally, Waller went down with an injury early in the game, a disappointing start no doubt for him. That left his stat sheet blank, but the interesting part was the fan’s response. The frustration from Raider Nation toward Waller is at an all-time high. No. 83 even received hate for attending a San Diego Padres game recently. In his defense, Waller has been instrumental with regard to run-blocking. Fans, on the other hand, expect him to do more than just clear the way for Jacobs and Co.

It’s an ongoing process for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow

Sooner or later, you expect two players with Waller and Renfrow’s abilities to get it together. Renfrow was on the wrong side of the highlight reel when he and Adams had a miscue that likely cost the Raiders their Monday night matchup. As far as Waller goes, they just need to get him going altogether, as Lombardi stated. “It’s an ongoing process that we’re going to try and do in terms of what the defense does this week in terms of covers to try and get the guys the ball, whether it’s a run or a pass, and move forward from there. But we’ve got to get them out there first, make sure they’re healthy and ready to go, and that’s the first step.”

Now that the bye week is behind them, Raider Nation will be looking to see how all of this plays out against the Houston Texans. The Raiders need to get two of their biggest stars going, sooner rather than later.

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*Top Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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