Imagine transferring to a brand-new school. The people, the layout, and the rules have all changed. Fortunately, an old friend had transferred there but he has a slightly different class schedule, so he may only be seen in passing. This new school has also acquired a new dean who could be described as intensely quirky. At this point, the dean has begun asking certain students who may tend to act out to leave the school. Returners to the school may now feel that they are in a completely different system just with similar friends. Essentially, the feeling around the school is that it is imperative to accept and become molded by the changes as soon as possible. Picture the Oakland Raiders as the new school.
If clarification is necessary, the “school” is a representation of the Oakland Raiders. Also, the transfer student in reference is Jordy Nelson. He joined the Raiders in the same offseason in which Jon Gruden did, which led many to believe that Gruden saw something in Nelson that he thought he could work with. That “something” that Gruden saw was quite clear to all as football fans across the league enamored at the acquisition. However, the concern about Jordy splitting targets with Amari Cooper and Jared Cook arose. Some began to fear that the signing of the aging wide receiver would prove to be nonsensical.
During the first two games of the regular season, the fears appeared to be coming true. Jordy’s wheels were spinning, but he struggled to gain traction. During these first games, Derek Carr averaged 295 passing yards. However, Nelson averaged an abysmal 27 yards per game on 2.5 receptions. While the slow start could stem from him (and Carr), struggling to find a fit for Nelson in Gruden’s new offense, fantasy owners and critical fans started became distressed over his lack of usage.
However, Nelson remained faithful his team would call his number. He owns the big play factor and career statistics to start running his mouth to the media about his lack of targets. Nevertheless, he did no such thing. Nelson sat back as Gruden answered questions from the press about his situation and stated that he did intend to get him more involved.
Then, in Week 3, it happened. Jordy began building his position in the Raiders’ offense and posted a gaudy 173-yard performance, his highest yard total since Week 2 of the 2014 season. Nelson recorded these stats on six catches and had help from a 66-yard reception that would go for a touchdown. While some may call it a fluke, Nelson continued strong in Week 4. Although he did not have as impressive of a game, there are factors left off a basic box score that may prove that Nelson has found himself a spot in the offense.
For example, Carr targeted Nelson multiple times in crunch time during the game against the Browns. As a result, two of the targets ended up in points. Carr found him for a 19-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders the lead. Then, with the game on the line, and with the Raiders down by two, Carr connected with Nelson on a one-on-one fade route.
While he is not showing signs of being the number one receiver in Oakland, he certainly found his role. Nelson now emerges as the sure handed (despite a fumble during Week 3 in Miami) wide receiver. Amari Cooper finished second in the league in drops last year. Although he is showing improvement, has yet to gain the trust of his coaching staff. This sure handedness could open many opportunities for Nelson throughout the season. Fans will see Nelson record more redzone and third-down targets. Provided he continues to catch whatever Carr can throw at him, the Raiders now enjoy a threat inside the 20.