Grading the Raiders’ Wide Receivers in Week 1

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The Raiders pulled off a heart-pounding victory in one of the most tense games in recent Raider memory with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens 33-27 on Monday Night Football. Let’s take a look at the performance of the receivers in Week 1.

The game had its up-and-downs for the Raiders as they struggled mightily against the Ravens defense. The main issue for the Raiders was the wide receivers. In the first half especially, Raiders receivers were either dropping passes or having a non-existent presence within the offense in Week 1.

“I give Edgar Bennett, our receivers coach, credit,” Jon Gruden said after the game. “Our receivers didn’t get involved much early in the football game. We did try, but [Marlon] Humphrey, I think, he’s the best corner in the league. We were persistent. I thought Ruggs made a big play to set up a score, and obviously Edwards got hot at the end.”

QB Derek Carr was forced to rely heavily on TE Darren Waller throughout the game as he was the only constant threat to get open Monday night. This was the narrative throughout the night, as the Raiders defense was taking the place of the offense as being the most consistent unit.

The second half finally saw the receivers come alive for the Raiders, as Carr was able to rely on the young core of receivers in Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, and Bryan Edwards. Carr and the receiving unit finally eased the pressure off of Darren Waller, who turned 29 years-old yesterday.

With the great hands and slot ability of Renfrow, the deep passing threat of Ruggs, and the sure-handed and big-bodied Edwards, the Raiders receivers found their groove in the second half and were instrumental in Derek Carr’s 435 passing yards.

“It’s a great confidence builder for them,” Gruden said. “They’re still very young players, but when you can make big plays like that in critical moments against a great defense, that should give them a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Raider receivers were ever-present in the overtime period after a game-tying 55-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson. The Raiders receivers led a drive down field and appeared to end the game with an epic 32-yard catch by Edwards. It was ruled, however, that Edwards was down before he reached the end zone.

This created a very tense and bizarre set of circumstances, which led to the Ravens intercepting Carr in the end zone after a pass to Willie Snead went through his hands. The ball ricocheted off the helmet of a Ravens player and fell into the hands of Ravens CB Anthony Averett.

But after a Lamar Jackson fumble on the following possession, the Raiders would finally claim victory. Carr connected on a game-winning touchdown pass to WR Zay Jones that finally iced the game for the Raiders at home.

“Zay Jones, since he got to our team, every time I ask him to throw, he’s there at 6 AM. Every time,” Carr said to ESPN after the game. “He’s never missed one… I hope that everyone in the world roots for Zay Jones because he works harder than anybody our team.”

The Raiders receivers were shaken to start, to say the least. After a dominating performance from the group in clutch time, it did not mask the fact the team struggled heavily in the first half and for a majority of the game.

The Raiders have a tough task this Sunday in Pittsburgh and to compete with another tough defense of the Steelers, they must come alive a lot earlier for the Raiders to have a chance.

Overall, the receivers’ performances may not have been spectacular in Week 1, but they did indeed come up in the clutch. Hopefully the momentum from their performance in the latter half of the game leads to confidence for the next clash this weekend.

Grade: C

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