One more game.
After battling perhaps the craziest, most bizarre season in NFL history, the Raiders are closing in on the finish line of their first full season in Las Vegas. The job is not yet done.
The Silver and Black will battle the Broncos in their season finale in an effort to secure their first non-losing season since 2016. Here's to another week of great questions and concerns for the team heading into Denver. Hopefully I was able to handle them insightfully for you. It has been an honor interacting with the kickass members of Raider Nation this year through the Mailbag.
Of course just because the season is ending doesn't mean you can't find me @theleviedwards throughout the offseason and hit me up more questions.
On to Denver.
Hernandez Joser asks...
"Can we get our young talent to improve? (Henry Ruggs & Bryan Edwards)"
Something that I've seen a lot of among fans and critics – of any sport – is people expecting too much too soon from rookies. We have become accustomed to a handful of talented rookies take their respective leagues by storm in the past, and we have come to expect that out of nearly any rookie that had a marvelous collegiate career.
But it doesn't always work out like that.
Ruggs and Edwards may not have had glorious statistics this season, but they have shown improvement throughout the season and that they can be weapons moving forward.
With the 23 catches Ruggs has hauled down this season so far, he's averaged 18 yards per catch — and don't forget he saved the day with the reincarnation of the 'Last-Second Glory' against the Jets several weeks ago. Coach Gruden still has a lot of faith in his 2020 first-round pick and is realistic in the receiver's development going into next season.
"Ruggs has got to practice, stay with us longer and do more with his targets," said Coach Gruden. "When he does, he'll see the ball more."
For his part, Edwards is averaging nearly 16 yards per catch and was routinely making plays earlier this season before suffering the knee injury that sidelined him for several games.
Something tells me Ruggs and Edwards will figure it out given their track record.
Benjamin Villescas asks...
"Will Javin White get playing time?"
Javin White's journey with the Las Vegas Raiders could be considered one of the more inspirational stories on the team.
White has had his fair share of fans since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019. The Oakland, Calif., product is considered a local legend in Las Vegas for his storied career as a UNLV Rebel. In his time as a Rebel he accumulated over 200 tackles, was named to the UNLV Football All-Decade team and was an All-Mountain West honorable mention.
After showing great promise with the team on the practice squad, White has had several opportunities to make plays on the active roster, primarily on special teams. However with Nicholas Morrow and Nick Kwiatkoski missing time (COVID-19 reserve) last week against the Dolphins, White had two tackles, including a momentum-propelling TFL in the first quarter.
With the amount of snaps he saw last Saturday, it might be warranted to see if the hometown hero has more in the tank in the last game of the season. If Javin White wants to rise his stock within the Raiders organization, they're might not be a better time than this Sunday.
Daniel A. Drapkin asks...
"Are the Raiders really gonna win this game and ruin their draft position?"
Yep, that's the goal.
The Raiders arguably had their best overall performance of the season in their Week 10 37-12 victory over the Broncos, creating five turnovers in Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders should have every opportunity to recreate that same magic in Denver, despite the injuries they've endured since.
This games means so much more than a draft selection. The Raiders must win this game for their own morale. After posting a 7-9 regular season record in 2019, the Raiders need this game to show year-over-year improvement and have something positive to look forward to in 2021.
If that means jeopardizing a top-15 pick, so be it.