Darren Waller has high hopes for the Las Vegas Raiders offense in 2020.
Members of the AFC West have learned a valuable lesson during Patrick Mahomes two-year run as the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback thus far: you cannot keep him from scoring points.
Instead of zeroing in on stopping Mahomes and his world-class array of weapons, AFC West rivals like the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders shifted gears this offseason with a new plan to try to keep stride with the Chiefs offensive horses. One member of the Raiders, tight end Darren Waller, believes they’ve done enough to feature one of the NFL’s most explosive units.
In a recent interview on Sirius XM, Waller says he’s very excited by the offensive additions and believes that top to bottom, they have an offense to be feared.
"“I don’t feel like having a top five offense is out of the picture. We have that much talent. We have guys who are buying in. We have a balanced system. I have high expectations, and I think everyone on the offense would say the same thing.”"
The Raiders do have some very impressive young pieces on offense and the offseason brought some generous addition. Waller himself is already making waves as a bright young tight end who had 90 catches for 1,145 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. Josh Jacobs enjoyed a strong season as the team’s lead running back and put up over 1,300 yards from scrimmage. In addition the Raiders front line is one of the league’s best already with Rodney Hudson anchoring a line full of above average performers.
At receiver, the Raiders made massive moves by investing several draft picks here to help bolster a corps that feature Tyrell Williams and little else. Henry Ruggs is the new deep threat. Lynn Bowden, Jr. and Bryan Edwards are Day 2 picks who should provide competition and open up Jon Gruden’s playbook. The team also signed Nelson Agholor away from the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
Taken as a whole, Waller has good reason to believe the Raiders can move the chains, although they were already 11th in the NFL in yards (the Chiefs were 6th for reference). Unfortunately their scoring percentage was 21st, meaning the Raiders often found their momentum halted where it matters most.
Unfortunately (for the Raiders) the man through whom all of this will flow, Derek Carr, is still under center and it’s hard to see him improving radically despite the new additions. It’s not as if Carr has been a quarterback bereft of any options during his tenure as the team’s quarterback (e.g. Amari Cooper, Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook, Michael Crabtree). The cupboard has never been stacked, per se, but other quarterbacks have been more successful with lesser weapons.
Then again, maybe Waller’s vision of a Top 5 offense can come true given that Marcus Mariota is the newest face in the QB room. There’s very real competition for Carr now and Mariota has every incentive to take advantage of new surroundings to prove his own worth at the pro level after a failed stint in Nashville.
The Raiders look stronger, on paper, to be sure, but given the lack of changes at quarterback, it’s hard to see them getting that much better—at least to the degree that Waller believes. The quarterbacks would have to seriously improve and the rookies would have to contribute immediately. It’s likely going to be another year or more—if the Raiders can make such a leap at all.