As the 2019 NFL season came to a close, the Raiders found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. They needed too much to compete. This season began with some off-field drama that left RaiderNation with a chip on its shoulder.
The Raiders had many reasons to miss the playoffs last season, including four crushing losses of 18 points or more, not to mention a stretch of two games where the team was outscored 12-74 in the back half of the season. Linebacker shortages and offensive confusion were two of the team’s biggest setbacks, but now both of these questions have been addressed and answered.
Prized Free Agents
Las Vegas will soon be welcoming two of the most sought after free agent linebackers in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, already giving the team better options than leaving Tahir Whitehead on the field for a vast majority of snaps.
Last season, due to the aforementioned early season drama, the Raiders started Tyrell Williams at the lead wide receiver spot. But this box has also been checked in the offseason, as the Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs III to accompany Williams along with Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.
The majority of the Raiders’ position groups trended downward towards the end of the season. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ defensive line rose to the occasion. Maxx Crosby and Maurice Hurst both shone brightly while Clelin Ferrell began to find his groove and now appears poised to cement himself at defensive end.
The Las Vegas Raiders addressed an impressive amount of their offseason concerns before the preseason has even begun. The Nation’s morale and instilling dreams of a return to the playoffs. If the team could enter Week 17 last season with a chance at the playoffs, perhaps their improvements will bring them to a point where they may at least have a “win-to-get-in” situation in Week 17 this season.
This is now Gruden and Mayock’s team. Additionally, their constant tinkering finally has the Raiders back in the early playoff picture. The biggest question mark still remaining, of course, is Derek Carr. Carr now has an impressive set of offensive linemen, running backs, and wide receivers to work with. In addition to these assets, Carr also no longer has an excuse for failure. Carr enjoyed an impressive season last year, surpassing 4000 yards passing.
The biggest outside factor the Raiders now face is the intensity of the AFC West. But fortunately, rules preventing three teams from one division making the playoffs. Plus,this could certainly be the year we see three AFC West teams clinching spots.