The Las Vegas Raiders have completely retooled their receiving corps this off-season. How did they do it, and why did it need to happen?
Starting off the 2021 season by averaging 308 passing yards through the first seven games, the Las Vegas Raiders’ passing attack was one of the most efficient across the NFL. As a result, Las Vegas averaged 25.7 points per contest, heading into the bye week with an impressive 5-2 record. Then, it all went downhill.
Returning from the bye week meant swallowing the pill nobody wanted to take; The Raiders’ no.1 receiver was no longer with the team, due to a tragic accident. This did a number on Las Vegas’ passing offense, turning a 308 average through the first seven, into 241 through the last ten.
In fact, there was only one time in those final ten games where the Raiders’ passing attack reached the 308 mark that the club averaged through the first seven contests. The scoring average reflected that, too, turning a 25.7 points per game through the first seven games into a number south of 20 for the remaining ten.
To put this into perspective, those 308 yards through the air each contest would’ve had Las Vegas end the season no.1 in the category. Instead, the Raiders fell out of the top five. On the points side, the Silver and Black would’ve ended in the top ten had they continued their pre-bye week pace. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and they found themselves sitting at 18.
What caused such a change?
The Raiders were able to find consistent production from Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow, as well as their superstar tight end Darren Waller. Even when Darren Waller was sidelined with injury, Foster Moreau was able to provide a consistent spark. The problem wasn’t on the inside, being neither the slot receiver nor the tight end(s). The issue was the wideout production, after losing their no.1 receiver.
Bryan Edwards was one of the wideouts whose production sank a great deal coming back from the bye. With receiver Henry Ruggs on the field, Edwards passed the 40-yard mark in five out of seven games. Without Ruggs, however, he would reach this mark just twice in the remaining ten contests.
The problem wasn’t just that Ruggs was a good receiver himself; It was that his presence forced defenses to pay close attention to him, opening doors up for his fellow teammates. Without this, the wideouts collectively struggled to create separation, resulting in a much less effective passing attack.
Now, the Raiders once again have that presence from the outside, that the defense has to account for on every down. In addition, they were able to grab some depth pieces that can create for themselves. Las Vegas has completely revamped their receiving unit, from top to bottom, and we’re going to dive into how they did it.