The Las Vegas Raiders 2020 season has come to a close, finishing with an 8-8 record. The offense made strides in 2020 but despite the growth, they still fell short of reaching the playoffs.
The Las Vegas Raiders 2020 season was off to a hot start, winning six of their first nine games. At that point, they had faced the toughest part of their schedule and looked to have their sights set on the playoffs.
Several weeks later, the Raiders finished the season losing five of their last seven games. Entering the final week in Denver, Las Vegas’ playoff hopes had dissipated. While the Raiders collapsed over the second half of their schedule, they did record a one-game improvement over last season.
Here are the team’s grades, evaluating their year in review by each offensive position group:
At times, Derek Carr played some of the best football he’s shown throughout the entirety of his seven-year career. Carr set career-highs in passing yards and QB rating. Plus, Carr’s touchdown total, yards per game and game-winning drives this season all rank second among his career stats. However, his inability to capitalize with the offense inside the red zone was his biggest flaw. Ultimately, the Raiders kicked more field goals than they needed to.
The Raiders signal-caller was plenty good throughout the 2020 season and did put the team in place to win quite regularly. The Raiders’ defense didn’t help his case more times than not.
In Week 15, Carr suffered an injury to his groin, and Marcus Mariota was placed into the starting role. After an underwhelming training camp from Mariota, his single-game glimpse against the Chargers was nearly everything you could ask for in a backup quarterback. Mariota finished the outing with 314 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders gave him a two-year, $17.6 million contract last offseason and he lived up to his end of the bargain.
Quarterback Grade: B+
The identity of a Jon Gruden offense is based upon a ground and pound running attack. After Josh Jacobs fell short of taking home the hardware of the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, the expectations entering the Raiders 2020 season included another step forward in year two. Jacobs recorded another season of 1,000 yards rushing, while adding five more touchdowns than he had last season. However, his yards per carry went down as his rushing attempts went up.
Surrounding Jacobs in the running back room, included a mixed bag of rushers. Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard and Theo Riddick all served as complementary pieces. Booker showed flashes early in the season that represented a physical approach in the running game. He finished the season with 507 yards from scrimmage, three touchdowns and 4.5 yards per carry. However, his usage decreased late in the season.
The Raiders committed to the run game through the start of the season and thrived when doing so. But as time went on, their run blocking efficiencies from the offensive line derailed the execution by the group of running backs. Richard and Riddick gave the Raiders two above-average pass-catching backs for additional receiving options.
Running Back Grade: B-
The Raiders’ offense entered the 2020 season having added additional resources to their wide receiver room through free agency and the NFL Draft. With Nelson Agholor, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards all entering Gruden’s offense without a traditional training camp, the transition period held several questions wondering how fast they’d grasp Gruden’s highly demanding playbook.
As the season played itself out, Agholor became Carr’s deep threat downfield, catching 48 passes for 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Ruggs had flashes of his big-play ability and extraordinary speed at times. But in other instances it was apparent he’s still adapting to the NFL game — primarily when facing press coverage. Edwards missed nearly a third of the season due to a foot and ankle injury that he suffered in the Week 9 game against the Chargers. In games he played, Edwards was rarely targeted. He never caught more than two passes per game, but with a full offseason and training camp prior to next season, Edwards is expected to be more involved moving forward.
The returning wide receivers on the Raiders’ offense of Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones put up similar seasons to their 2019 campaigns. Renfrow once again proved to me Mr.Reliable on must-have downs for Carr, catching passes at a 72.7% rate. Jones was relatively quiet, only catching 14 passes. Although, he did average 11 yards per reception.
Agholor was the team’s leading wide receiver, having a career year in his first season with the Raiders. Nonetheless, none of the Raiders’ wide receivers posted more than 1,000 yards, and their second-leading pass catcher in the wide receiver room didn’t eclipse 700 yards. It was a step up from last year, but there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Wide Receiver Grade: C
The Raiders’ offense went with four tight ends on the roster this season. After a 2019 breakout season from Darren Waller and a compelling rookie tour from Foster Moreau, the tight end group started as the team’s strength and finished just as strong.
Waller emerged as a top-three tight end in the league along with Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Waller broke the Raiders’ single-season franchise reception record with 107 grabs on the year. He finished with 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns, cementing himself as the Raiders No.1 receiving option.
Other members of the tight end group such as Moreau, Jason Witten and Derek Carrier did most of their work in the red zone, or in blocking situations. With the addition of Witten, he didn’t pose much of a threat from a pass-catching standpoint, but his leadership in the locker room was one that many of the first and second-year players eluded too in team press conferences. Moreau and Carrier were primarily used as depth pieces, while playing on the special teams unit due to Waller and Witten consuming most of the snaps.
Tight End Grade: A
The Raiders’ 2020 season was largely impacted by injuries to the offensive line. While they’ve allocated more money than any other team to their starting front five, they saw very few snaps as a group. Collectively, the offensive line encountered a long list of lingering injuries.
Most significantly, right tackle Trent Brown played just five games. Brown’s salary is the second-highest at his position. Without him anchoring the right side, the Raiders used a rotation of replacements that included Denzelle Good, Sam Young and Brandon Parker. As a group, they held their own for what they could given the circumstances. However, the run game began to suffer in the later weeks, making the Raiders’ offense one dimensional as they moved away from running the football.
Additionally, left guard Richie Incognito played just two games after suffering an Achilles injury and left tackle Kolton Miller missed two games because of an ankle injury. Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson were the only starters to play all 16 games and the two did delivered at a high level.
The Raiders allowed 28 sacks despite the injuries, ranking 10th in the NFL.
Offensive Line Grade: B-