Who would have thought that the Las Vegas Raiders would be only one of two undefeated teams left in the AFC West?
The other team isn’t even the Kansas City Chiefs, which lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a thrilling Sunday Night Football showdown.
Going back to the Raiders, their passing game has always been the strong point of their offense.
Last season, the Raiders finished seventh in passing yards per game with 263.6 and tenth in points per game at 27.1.
But two games into the 2021 season, Las Vegas leads the league in passing yards with 391 per game.
Derek Carr used this national interview to specifically praise a teammate. I just became a forever fan. pic.twitter.com/0wLCkrHitj
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) September 14, 2021
That improvement made them the seventh-best offense in the NFL, scoring 29.5 every game.
While it’s evident that the Raiders offense is trending up, the reason is a combination of several factors.
First, perhaps quarterback Derek Carr is more comfortable with Jon Gruden’s system that he isn’t afraid to take risks at times.
Play calls on Gruden’s playbook are notoriously long, but they do give his quarterback an advantage.
Second, Carr isn’t the same check-down quarterback of old, at least for the first two games.
He threw the walk-off touchdown in overtime to Zay Jones in Week 1 despite the incoming pass rush by the Ravens.
🚨 WALK-OFF TD BY ZAY JONES!🚨
RAIDERS WIN IT IN VEGAS!
— ESPN (@espn) September 14, 2021
Third, the Raiders have the personnel to field challenging throws from Carr.
Tight end Darren Waller burned the Ravens with 10 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown during their season debut.
The Carr-Waller tandem started slowly in that Monday Night Football encounter by connecting on just two of eight passes.
But their collaboration picked up since Waller caught a 24-yard pass during the latter part of the second quarter.
DARREN WALLER MANAGERS WHERE YA AT pic.twitter.com/pvgUqOgN3n
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 14, 2021
Carr did throw one interception in overtime, which nearly cost them the game.
However, he came back strong with that winning pass to Jones.
Carr Is Just Getting Started
The eighth-year quarterback finished the Baltimore game with 34 passes for 435 yards, two touchdowns, and a 60.7 completion percentage.
That production gave Carr at least 300 yards in five of his last six games.
More importantly, the Raiders slew a legitimate playoff contender that pressured Carr once on every four snaps.
The Raiders’ potent passing game continued against another AFC powerhouse in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This time, Carr did not throw any picks and finished with 382 yards and two touchdown passes.
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
He also completed 75.6 percent of his 37 total passing attempts.
The Steelers have one of the best defensive units in the NFL, and they are not shy in rushing the quarterback.
Like Baltimore, the Pittsburgh defense did have some success with five quarterback hits.
But the constant pressure did not deter them from playing their game.
Carr just stood up, shaked off the hit, and kept on playing brilliantly for Gruden and the Raiders.
Waller took a back seat to Henry Ruggs III, who finished with five receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The game’s highlight was a 61-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Ruggs while a Pittsburgh blitz was on its way.
HENRY RUGGS IS FAST. #RaiderNation
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
Ruggs ran past Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and didn’t miss a beat after making the catch.
That completion helped Carr maintain his streak of at least 350 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to three games.
Carr hopes to extend that streak and chalk up another victory next week against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium.