When healthy, the Raiders and Ravens have comparable receiving cores. Both have dominant tight ends, speedsters, and some size as well. Unfortunately, the Ravens’ first-round pick, Rashod Bateman, will be out after suffering an injury this offseason. Other than his injury, both units are at full health and fans should be in store for a good matchup.
Along with their similarities in composition, both groups are also young. The average age for the Raiders group of Ruggs, Edwards, Renfrow, Jones, and Snead, is only 25. The Ravens come in even younger, with an average age of 24.
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However, with their age comes expectations that neither group has met. Last year, Henry Ruggs was the twelfth pick in the draft and was expected to explode onto the scene. Instead, he had an injury-riddled season and totaled less than 1,000 yards.
Similarly, Bryan Edwards couldn’t seem to stay on the field, starting in only three games. Luckily he showed flashes in those games, especially in their matchup against the Saints game.
As for the Ravens, former first-round pick Marquise Brown hasn’t quite lived up to expectations either. Below is a table of his stats to date.
In all fairness, it is not easy being a 5’9 wide receiver in the NFL, and, not to bash his ability, he does not offer much other than his speed. His route running is nothing to rave about nor are his hands. While it is not his fault that he does not average WR1 targets, it is his fault for not capitalizing on opportunities.
What This Means
Honestly, I am not sure what to expect out of the Ravens’ offense. If I were to guess, the Ravens will attack the Raiders through the air. As a Raiders fan, I have witnessed a poor pass rush and slightly better secondary during Gruden’s second stint.
Not only is the defense the weakness of the team, but it is also week one. Week one means shaking off rust and coverages will be blown. To add to that, most of these players have not played with each other outside of practice.
As for the Raiders, I also expect them to utilize the pass. The Ravens’ secondary took a big hit with the injury of Marcus Peters, but he isn’t the only injury in the secondary.
Backup corner Jimmy Smith is also currently listed as questionable. Smith would normally be the go-to backup, but with his injury, it will more than likely go to a younger, less experienced player.
Secondly, reports from training camp seem to bode well for the Raiders. The story of the Raiders offseason, aside from their signings, was how good the receivers looked. Seemingly every week a new clip of one of the receivers making a big play circulated on socials.
Bryan Edwards was seen making catches while blanketed by a DB or going over them and ‘mossing’ them. Ruggs was seen routinely beating his defender with speed and his improved route running. Even Hunter “The Slot Machine” Renfrow got in on the action, losing defenders with his route running.
We also have to look at the mismatches. With the injuries sustained, the Ravens personnel will not be able to guard all of their threats. Henry Ruggs’ speed will go unmatched, Bryan Edwards’ size and contested-catch ability will prove tiresome for whoever matches up with him.
Not to mention, if the rumor that Hunter Renfrow beat Jalen Ramsey is true, their slot corner will stand no chance. That does not even include Las Vegas’ true number one receiver… Darren Waller.
Overall, I am hopeful for a shootout to kickoff the start of the Raiders season. Both teams have offenses with the ability to light up the scoreboard. In order for the Raiders to pull this one out, the defense will have to perform like us fans expect. With the injuries sustained by the Ravens, the Raiders have a real chance at showing what they are capable of and quieting a lot of haters.
An additional point is the availability of Josh Jacobs. As of publication, he is listed as questionable with an illness. The Raiders could look to attack the secondary and keep Jacobs fresh for week two.
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