The Las Vegas Raiders offense started the season off hot, averaging 30 points per game, with the passing game leading the way. Fast forward to Week 6, and the Raiders have switched to one of the worst offenses in the league.
Slow starts play a vital part in this issue. The Raiders are averaging 6.8 points per game in the first half. They have become inefficient on offense after performing with the top-of-the-league efficiency metrics the last two seasons.
This season, the offense has dropped from fifth in yards per drive in 2020 to 21st. With no run game to speak of, the Raiders have depended on the passing game to carry them. Last two weeks, the passing game became abysmal itself. The first three weeks, they ranked eighth in EPA, but in the past two games, it has dropped to 31st and 26th overall on the season using RBSDM.com.
The Raiders have become a vertical passing offense using explosive plays to move the football. Even after the back-to-back ugly performances, they still rank sixth in explosive pass rate using sharpfootballstats.com. An explosive play is anything over 15 yards run or pass.
The Raiders could bounce back from slow starts during the three-game stretch to start the season because of their explosive play rate. The offensive ranking was second in passing and third overall. Derek Carr was the best deep passer in the league, completing 54% of his deep using PFF and leading the league in yards, completions, and attempts.
When an offense starts to form, a one-dimensional identity teams come out to stop it. The previous two matchups proved that facing two defenses built to stop the pass caused the Raiders offense to become inept with explosive pass plays.
In Weeks 4, and 5 the Raiders are 32nd in the NFL in explosive rate and 31st in the explosive pass rate. Carr's deep passing numbers have plummeted. He is third in attempts with 13 but only has completed two. That's a 15% completion percentage with two interceptions using PFF metrics. Add on a 13.1 passer rating on deep throws, and it isn't pleasant. They are throwing 20 plus yards 18% of the time, ranking 3rd during that period.
Those two completions are to Ruggs on four targets if Greg Olson is reading this.
The Raiders have to adjust to save their season. Waller is underneath to intermediate player, and the deep passing game filters him out of the game plan. It's time to get him back on choice routes where he and Carr have an innate connection. Waller hasn't been targeted on a choice route since Week 1, where he scored a touchdown and a first down on the concept.
Waller makes a living on the choice/lookie routes. Has the option to slant, hitch or go out based on leverage. Jenkins has outside leverage pre snap so Carr is looking for the slant. Waller creates separation at the top of his stem with strength for a first down. pic.twitter.com/jroisnmYCu— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) July 31, 2021
Carr is 29/39 for 270 yards and two touchdowns and a passer rating of 109 on passes 1-20 yards the previous two times stepping on the field. The Raiders threw short passes 50% of the time, ranking eighth during the three-game winning streak using PFF. They fell to 39%, ranking 2nd to last, helping a two-game losing streak.
The Raiders must maximize the whole field if they want to be contenders. If they keep chucking it deep looking for explosive plays, it will be another season with no playoffs.