The 2019 Raiders offense was -- for lack of better terms -- boring, punchless and mundane.
It wasn't the fault of Derek Carr or Jon Gruden, as they were put behind the eight ball when Antonio Brown demanded his release and did the best they could to revamp the offense on the fly. The Raiders were ranked 11th in the NFL in yards per game, but only 24th in scoring. They also struggled to convert on third down and in the red zone.
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock went to work rebuilding the offense in the draft, selecting wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, as well as do-it-all Kentucky athlete Lynn Bowden. Add those three playmakers to a cast that already includes tight end Darren Waller, running back Josh Jacobs, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams and you have the makings of an offense that could be one of the most dynamic in the NFL.
Raiders legend Charles Woodson believes the unit can be "explosive" in 2020 and can't wait to watch them work.
"Offensively, they're all different types of guys, man," Woodson said of the 2020 draft class, via Raiders.com. "They're guys you can do different things with and I kind of got excited about adding those guys to Josh Jacobs, [Darren] Waller and Derek Carr. I think offensively they have a chance to be explosive and defensively I think, they brought in [Cory] Littleton from the Rams, he's going to be a key. I think they're going to have to gel as a defense and some young guys are going to have to step up and make some plays for that defense, but offensively I think they have a chance to be explosive."
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With the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs setting the pace, the rest of the AFC spent the offseason trying to close the gap between them and the NFL's best team.
The Raiders loaded up on offense in the draft and focused on upgrading their defense in free agency, adding linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, defensive end Carl Nassib, safeties Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath and cornerback Prince Amukamara.
That infusion of talent should help a defense that was ranked 30th in DVOA last year go from the bottom of the NFL to somewhere in the middle of the pack.
But all eyes will be on the offense in 2020. With a loaded arsenal of weapons, one of the best offensive lines in football and a hardened mentality, all signs point to Carr potentially having a career year in the Raiders' inaugural season in Las Vegas. Carr put up solid stats in 2019, but he was unable to deliver wins down the stretch as the Silver and Black finished 1-5 to fall out of playoff contention.
Carr bears some responsibility for the Raiders' late-season struggles, but he wasn't playing with a full deck. Williams suffered from plantar fasciitis from Week 2 on and Jacobs missed three of the last four games with a fractured shoulder. That allowed defenses to key in on Waller and Renfrow and slow Gruden's offense to a crawl.
With playmakers across the board in 2020, that shouldn't be an issue if the Raiders remain healthy. Ruggs' game-changing speed means the defense will have to account for him on every snap. If Edwards can play even a moderate role as a big slot and chain-mover, that will give Carr four receivers who are capable of making people miss and turning short, safe throws into longer gains.
Woodson expects to see a new-look Raiders offense in 2020. One that -- if all things go according to plan -- help lead them to the playoffs.