About three quarters into the Raiders’ season opener in Denver, one question emerged — Where is Hunter Renfrow?
The one time Pro Bowl slot receiver seemed to be a forgotten man in the Raiders offense.
Yeah, it was just one game, and not everyone is expected to get a lot of targets and catches all the time. And that is just what head coach Josh McDaniels would like you to think. That it was simply a matter of the ball going elsewhere that had us all wondering where Renfrow was.
“I think that’s just the way it goes,” McDaniels said of Renfrow’s absence from the offense. “I mean, there are games where certain things happen and the ball gets targeted to different guys differently. And we’re trying to tell our quarterback to read the defense and then try to go to the best spot with the ball as opposed to read the defense and go to one guy with the ball. And so, some games that might mean the player in the slot gets 10 or 12 targets and games it might mean two or three, and yesterday was one of those ones where just the game played out a certain way and the coverage dictated that the ball went elsewhere. So, that’s what that is.”
Some things here just don’t add up.
The way McDaniels tells it, Renfrow was out there, he just wasn’t the guy targeted. The problem is, it’s kind of hard to be targeted from the sideline.
The offense played 59 snaps in the game. And for 46 of those snaps, Renfrow was not in the lineup. Not a lot of chances for targets with just 13 snaps (22%).
This for a guy who prior to McDaniels’s arrival consistently played around 70% of the offensive snaps and entered the franchise record books with 103 catches on 128 targets in one season.
So, it wasn’t so much a matter of the defense taking Renfrow away from Jimmy Garoppolo, but rather Josh McDaniels taking him away.
What’s interesting is which snaps in the game we saw Renfrow.
Over his four years in the NFL, he earned the nickname “Third-and-Renfrow” because he was a go-to target on third down and most times converted it.
Well, McDaniels seems to have thought that meant *only* third down. The Raiders lined up in third down 13 times in the game. Nine of those times, Renfrow was on the field. A reminder that Renfrow only logged 13 snaps total in the game.
Come Sunday in Buffalo, McDaniels may have no choice but to re-insert Renfrow into the lineup. Starting receiver Jakobi Meyers has been ruled out with a concussion after missing the whole week of practices.
While Renfrow wouldn’t be replacing Meyers directly because Renfrow plays almost solely in the slot, it would be downright foolish not to increase the snaps of one of the team’s top receivers if only to ensure you have your best group on the field the bulk of the time.
Garoppolo targeted Meyers a team-high 10 times in the opener, so it would stand to reason with Meyers not out there, he must look elsewhere for those completions.