The national media has been in a frenzy surrounding the Oakland Raiders in recent weeks and specifically, Derek Carr has been the focal point of attacks being cast upon the team.
From reporters and television pundits claiming Carr was crying on the field and allegedly having a fractured relationship with his team because of it, all the way to Gruden not even wanting him there anymore. The rumors have been running rampant and it’s time to put them to bed.
Hopefully Carr’s four-touchdown performance against the Colts was enough to do so. In case it wasn’t, Derek was able to take a few of my questions helping to set the record straight.
The narrative of Carr’s apparent crying incident in London is that it’s “fractured” his relationship with the locker room. However, tight end Lee Smith did his part to help subside any false illusions about Carr’s leadership with the team.
Carr has been the “face of the franchise” since 2014 while handling coaches coming and going like it’s a game of musical chairs as well as sustaining injuries that literally broke his back. Through all the difficult times, Carr has proven time and time again, he is tough as nails.
Facing adversity is nothing new for Carr and when asked how this recent media uproar has impacted his leadership role he said, “I try not to listen to the media. I know who I am and how my teammates view me. I believe in this team and I know my teammates believe in me.”
Carr continued by saying, “Just because you are going through a rough time, does not mean that all of a sudden I lose the respect of my teammates or I am upset with my teammates. During difficult moments in a season, as a team, we try to rise above it and support each other and just keep working hard.”
A ‘fractured’ locker room was not the only bogus claim about this team either. Kevin Blackistone on ESPN’s Around The Horn said in regards to possible trade rumors surrounding Carr’s name that, “Gruden didn’t want him there anyway.”
I know Gruden has made claims that haven’t always come to fruition as fans have hoped, for instance when he said Amari Cooper will be the “focal point” of the offense. But I for one, am unaware of Gruden saying such things about Carr.
Putting any rumors aside of a rift in Carr’s respective relationship with Gruden and the rest of the staff, Derek shared that, “My relationship with Coach Gruden and the entire staff is solid. Yes, this has been a tough season with the losses, but as a person and player, I have not changed. Everyone in this organization has put a lot of energy leading up to this season.”
Carr continued on this point saying, “Yes, it is disappointing that the results do not match the expectations or the work we put in, but we all continue to respect each other and train with the idea that we will win the next game.”
With a 1-6 record approaching the midway point of the season, this isn’t unfamiliar territory for Carr. As the starting quarterback in his rookie season in 2014, the Raiders were winless with Carr under center at the halfway point. This time around things are different and Carr has an expanded leadership role in his fifth season and fourth as an official captain.
Carr told me that when it comes to the younger guys on the team, “I tell them that the wins will come and to keep the faith and keep working your butt off. Ask any player in the NFL, it is very difficult to win in this league. There are so many pieces of the puzzle that have to be right for a team to win. I really believe we will get there and I feel like the rookies understand this too.”
It’s a new marriage leading this team and as the relationship between Derek Carr and Jon Gruden continues to blossom, the direction of the franchise will become clear and it will bear the fruits of many wins.