By Senji Torrey
Public Relations Manager
Leaving the Bay may just be the cure for the Las Vegas Raiders’ budding success. With an early season record of 3-0, a feat that the team has not secured since 2002, this year’s Raiders are shaping up to be something that they haven’t looked like in a long time: dangerous.
Though this accomplishment may seem like nothing more than a stroke of luck, looking back on previous seasons pulls back the curtain on the significance. It is important to recall that the last time the Raiders have made it past the Wildcard matchup during the playoffs was 19 years ago, when they started 3-0. Though it is unwise to speculate that a three-game winning streak is a sign of a division championship, it is a definitive sign that the Raiders are on the right track for success
To be fair, four other teams currently hold a perfect record this season. However, Las Vegas has played both the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, two of the top contenders in the entire league. The only other team who has come close to such a caliber of competition is the Arizona Cardinals, who have faced off against the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings — two of the darkest horses of the NFL.
There is no question that something has changed for the Silver and Black. In just a few games, the team has displayed a different tactic from past years, one that now relies on all-time Raiders’ passing leader Derek Carr’s arm. Carr has averaged an impressive 401 passing yards thus far, and leads the league with 1,203 total passing yards. When compared to his 261.3 yard average of his first three games of 2020, or even his 2020 season average of 270 yards, it is obvious that Carr is taking on more of the offensive responsibilities.
Another potential factor in Las Vegas’ success is sophomore wide receiver Henry Ruggs II finding his niche as the team’s go-to receiver. Tight-end Darren Waller led the Raiders in receiving yards for the past two seasons, and leads the team in total targets this season with 33. Despite this, Ruggs — who has been targeted a mere 19 times — has managed to rack up 237 receiving yards, amounting to more than the top-tier tight-end, who is sitting with 224 yards.
The addition of running back Peyton Barber from the Washington Football Team has also added to Las Vegas’ success. The veteran took over for young starter Josh Jacobs after Jacobs suffered toe and ankle injuries; Barber rushed for a solid 143 yards over two games. While these games will most likely not feature on his highlight reel, Barber’s productivity shows that he is molding well with his new team.
Defensively, the Raiders have turned to new signing Denzel Perryman. Perryman, who many analysts have pinned as one of the most underrated linebackers in the league, has led the Raiders in tackles in every game since joining the team. Up until this point, “Baby Thump” has taken down his opponent 36 times, ranking him fourth among all players for tackles. Perryman has been one of the Raiders’ largest catalysts thus far, and he will surely be one of the brightest beacons of hope for continued success.
At the end of the day, a 3-0 record does not mean anything objectively. At this point, anyone could call the Silver and Black’s early triumphs a fluke. However, as famed philosopher Kevin Malone once said, “A fluke is one of the most common fish in the sea. So if you go fishing for a fluke, chances are, you just might catch one.”
(Sources: The Guardian, Raiders Wire, Fox Sports, NFL.com, Pro-Football-Reference)