Going into the new season, it will be pivotal to supply Derek Carr with a variety of weapons. Too often last season the play calling was far too predictable with players being put in less than stellar positions to succeed.
This may come down to the mediocre coaching and coordinating, but there were times when players just weren’t performing consistently or adequately. Also, injuries played a factor in this as Amari Cooper and Carr himself were hampered with leg and back injuries, respectively.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Jon Gruden has brought in fresh, experienced faces and created a newfound optimism that the Raiders can be super competitive this year.
Here are a couple of new names expected to play a role in Gruden’s new offense, so keep an eye on them Raider Nation.
Derek Carrier, TE
“Taking the game back to 1998”, that was supposed to be taken in jest when Gruden said it in an interview. This acquisition suggests we are likely to see a variety of old and new plays.
Carrier is a tight end that leaves little to be desired as a catching threat but has bulked up in recent years and is a very accomplished blocker.
Leaving the L.A. Rams as a free agent to join the Raiders, Carrier brings six years of experience and was part of a growing success story in L.A., which will bode well for a team looking to get back to being a dominant force.
Likely to rotate with or complement Lee Smith, who was retained on a new deal, expect to see Carrier helping his team create gaps for Carr and the running back group.
Doug Martin, RB
A local product of the Bay Area and previous member of Gruden’s former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Martin is an interesting pick-up because he has declined in recent years. But he still has flashes of brilliance that the Raiders will be hoping to tap into.
The Raiders are being designed by Gruden to pound the ball through teams’ defenses and Martin could be a complementary piece to add to the run game.
Marshawn Lynch is being retained, but another strong aggressive RB who can also block is going to help cause problems for the opposition. He is not the most elusive and averaged just under three yards a carry in recent years, but Gruden clearly sees a valuable piece in Martin this year.
There are five running backs currently on the Raiders roster, all possessing different qualities, but expect one or two to be released or traded to make room for Martin. And with a loaded draft class, it would be silly not to take advantage and add one accordingly.
Let’s hope that Martin, who is still only 28 years old, can recapture his form from 2015 and carry that into this season. If he does, it will make the Raiders a big threat in the run game alone.
It is nearly draft time so keep an eye out for players who fit Gruden’s tough and dedicated regime, especially on offense. The Raiders aren’t far away from being a competitive roster to challenge teams to make the playoffs and beyond, but the draft could be pivotal in adding the last few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.