The Oakland Raiders have current and future talent at the quarterback position with Matt Schaub stepping in as the current leader, and Derek Carr being drafted from Fresno State in the second round. The question Raiders fans should ask themselves next is, do the Raiders have what it takes at the wide receiver position?
I can’t help but think of the Oakland glory days when Rich Gannon was throwing bullets all over the field to Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and of course Jerry Rice. Unfortunately, the Raiders have taken significant steps backward since then. In fact, none of the Raiders current receivers have demonstrated playoff caliber results.
The Raiders leading receiver, Rod Streater, had 60 receptions for 888 yards and 4 touchdowns. When compared to the rest of the NFL, Streater was 33rd in receiving yards. I don’t think there is any case where a team’s leading receiver should be that far back in receiving yards.
Oakland needs someone who can catch the long ball, make moves in open field, and is more aggressive when thrown to. Streater only had 60 receptions and was thrown to 100 times. Granted, Terrelle Pryor may have thrown some of those balls poorly, but I don’t think all 40 of them could have been that far off. The desire and the fire to catch balls, turn up field and find the end zone just doesn’t seem to be there with Oakland’s leading receiver.
Short passes aren’t really the problem for the Raiders considering Darren McFadden and Marcel Reese are 5th and 6th on the team receiving chart. They are coming out of the backfield making catches and finding open field, especially when McFadden is healthy. Reese has consistently been a receiving presence from the fullback position, which is something the Raiders have always coveted.
Some other receivers that should have stepped up by now are Denarius Moore, Brice Butler, and Jacoby Ford. Of course, Ford got traded to the Jets recently, but was never effective anyway due to a season-ending foot injury in 2012. While picking up Ford’s slack, Moore has proved to be inconsistent after an average season in 2013. As for Butler, going into his third season he has yet to prove himself as leading NFL receiver.
What Oakland needs to do for more passing success is get the tight ends involved as much as possible. Tight end David Ausberry is coming off a major shoulder injury and is excited to be teamed up with Matt Schaub because of his tight end friendly arm. Also, the Raiders have tight end Mychal Rivera who had a decent season last year with 407 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
I think if Schaub and Carr throw to their tight ends more, we will see defenses creep their safeties in, creating more room for Brice Butler and Denarius Moore to catch deep balls in open space. This could also create a friendly competition between the receiving corps for number of catches, which could light the fire the Raiders receivers need to be more effective.