The Las Vegas Raiders were facing a tough task this week when they were forced to continue to think about football after wide receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a fatal car crash that led to the death of 23-year-old Tina O. Tintor and her dog on November 3. Ruggs faces charges of DUI and reckless driving resulting in death, DUI and reckless driving resulting in substantial bodily harm and possession of a firearm while under the influence, which is a misdemeanor, according to court documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 2020 first-round pick is facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to the outlet.
Not only was Ruggs the Raiders’ top receiver, but he was a beloved teammate. In the team’s first game this season without him, they fell 23-16 to the New York Giants in Week 9. Quarterback Derek Carr had his worst game of the season as he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on the Raiders’ last drive of the game. The offense looked out of sync all game. It’s easy to look at the subpar performance and blame it on the loss of Ruggs and the drama surrounding his departure. However, Carr wasn’t ready to put the blame on anything or anyone other than himself.
“We moved the heck out of the ball,” Carr told reporters after the November 7 loss. “We had things that we wanted and – you just can’t turn the ball over. You can’t throw interceptions. … That’s why we lost the game. Honestly, at the end of the day, we just need to be better as players. Coaches did a great job, all of those things. I’ve got to be better. This one’s on me.”
Carr stressed to reporters that he should get blamed for the loss and that should be the narrative following the game.
“It just comes down to what we believe and it’s all about the ball,” Carr said. “That’s why we lost. Please just talk about me turning the ball over.”
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Darren Waller & Hunter Renfrow Chime In
Sunday’s postgame interview was the first time Raiders players other than Carr could address the situation regarding Ruggs. Similar to his quarterback, Darren Waller wasn’t ready to blame the off-the-field noise for the effort against the Giants.
“I feel like we did a great job of locking in at practice this week,” Waller told reporters. “I just feel like it’s things that happened in the game that made the difference. I don’t think it had anything to do with the practice or preparation. You know, guys react to it a lot of different ways but I didn’t see anything in practice that had me worried going into the game.”
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow acknowledged that the Raiders have dealt with a lot of adversity this year but doesn’t want that to become an excuse.
“We got to come out and play better than we did and I think as we go forward, it’s going to make us tighter,” Renfrow said. “A lot of adversity this season, but I think just getting better every day is going to be the key to it.”
Raiders Winless in Games Without Ruggs Since Last Season
Ruggs missed three games last season and the Raiders went 0-3 without him. Though his rookie season was lackluster, his presence clearly impacted the game. With the loss to the Giants, Las Vegas is now 0-4 without him on the field since the beginning of the 2020 season and 13-7 with him on the field. His game-breaking speed changed the dynamic of games for the offense.
The Raiders aren’t going to find a perfect replacement during the season. DeSean Jackson can still run, which is why the team signed him after the Giants loss, per Josina Anderson. It’s clear that this offense needs a legit deep threat to remain effective. Ruggs isn’t coming back so the Raiders need to find a solution. Jackson may very well be a strong temporary solution to what could end up being a long-term problem.