After stealing off-season headlines when they brought back Jon Gruden, the Oakland Raiders gutted their roster in conjunction with a different approach to free agency as well as the draft that had been the norm in the last couple of years. The Khalil Mack trade notwithstanding, let’s see how Derek Carr’s shaping up four games into Gruden’s second tenure.
The Raiders are only going as far as Carr takes them in 2018 and correcting Carr’s decision-making while polishing his talent was one of the main factors Gruden took the job.
Carr is now on his fourth offensive play-caller in just five seasons, consistency in that department was needed and Gruden has brought that (hopefully) to the table going forward.
A New System? Here We Go…
Derek has leaned on his pre-snap IQ to dictate his precision passing in this hybrid West Coast offense since being installed. Accuracy has been a welcomed improvement this season from Carr and that’s a strong foundation for any quarterback as confidence is largely found in their completion percentage. He’s currently on pace to statistically put together the most passing yards in NFL single-season history, a far cry from a troubling 2017 season.
The offense Carr is leading is also second in the league in terms of yards gained per contest with Carr completing 71% of his passes. Impressive but also disappointing considering the results in the win column.
The often referenced Derek Carr is the one that heralded multiple comeback victories to go with 12 wins, a playoff berth and gaining MVP votes in 2016. Have we seen that yet? Well, the Raiders surely would’ve welcomed that in their first three contests while they fell flat offensively and didn’t score a single touchdown in any of those 4th quarters. The tale of the first three games was largely about Carr not having any ability to lead the team late in games to the end zone, while costly turnovers became much more of the reality.
Then Came Week 4…
Then came the Week 4 contest against the Cleveland Browns. Carr was able to lead a miraculous 4th quarter comeback, forcing overtime and securing the seasons’ first victory. It seems like Carr has been growing into this offense each week, that is notably expressed by the ball being distributed more and more to his new pass catchers while keeping heavy doses of Jared Cook and Amari Cooper in his sights, that’s when he sees success.
Carr is leading a juggernaut of an offense that is hidden behind an underwhelming 1-3 record. I’m confident Carr is going to see more praise that will be celebrated as the team starts winning more games. For this to happen, critical improvements in the red zone offense must occur, while keeping the turnovers at a minimum. Carr is the leader, the captain, the quarterback, and the stage is set for him to turn this season around.