There are advantages to a more assertive Derek Carr (i.e. the win Monday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos. There are also disadvantages (i.e. the sound defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday).
No matter the case, however, the Oakland Raiders need their quarterback to remain bold, confident and decisive going forward. Especially with a brutal road stretch awaiting the Silver and Black.
Head coach Jon Gruden said after the season-opening win, “You listen to a good quarterback.” And that shouldn’t change. Sure, the Raiders looked far from the team that whipped the Broncos against the Chiefs. In fact, it was KC doing the whoopin.
But the Raiders shouldn’t hinder Carr and the quarterback shouldn’t second-guess himself, either. Despite what happened this past Sunday.
Let me take you back just in case:
Carr’s first second-half interception came on a redzone fade to wide receiver Tyrell Williams. There was as snafu between Carr and Williams — the wideout never saw the hand signal notifying him the play went from run to pass.
“It was a power play off the right side,” Gruden said Sunday. “Derek saw a free safety blitz and tried to make a play. He probably tried to do a little too much in that situation, but we were down 18 points, first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. We probably should’ve handed it off. We probably should have called a better play, but it was a big play in the game obviously.”
“Yeah, they brought an all-out blitz,” Carr said of the play. “They brought more than we could block, so I hand-signaled to the 1-on-1 and he missed me on the go. It’s honestly as simple as that. It’s annoying, but it happens.”
Carr properly adjusted the offense to the jailbreak blitz, despite the results being less than ideal. It’s rather simple, though. If the play resulted in a touchdown pass, no one would be the wiser. But the lack of execution (really wanted to add Gruden’s colorful Hard Knocks description before execution) resulted in a disconcerting pick in the endzone and ensuing finger pointing. We always need someone to blame, don’t we?
I’ll tell you this much: I’d rather see Carr do “too much” rather than “too little”. Hesitant Carr isn’t a pretty one. It leads to happy feet in the pocket, holding on to the ball too long and No. 4 getting trounced by defenders. Assertive Carr is one who zips passes quickly and accurately and even takes off looking to move the chains. See that leap he took trying to get the first down against KC?
“I’m just trying to win, to be honest with you,” Carr said of the scramble. “I don’t like losing. I believe we have a good football team. And in that moment … we need a first down.
“I see the sticks. There’s no chance I’m sliding, there’s no chance I’m going out of bounds. I’m just trying to get the first down. And I had the first down, but forever in this league, whenever I put the ball out past the first-down marker but my body goes the other way, they never give it to me.”
One could say Carr never gets the proper credit and criticism from Raider Nation, either.
Here’s something disconcerting: The Chiefs connected on eight passes of 25 yards or more. The Raiders? Zero, nada, zilch. The disparity naturally led to the aggressive inquiry.
“We took a shot (early), got the big (pass interference) play to set up the touchdown,” Gruden said. “We called a couple of shots. Obviously, the ball didn’t go down the field, but we did try to stay aggressive.”
The difference, of course, is the Chiefs harassed Carr while the Raiders were not even a mere nuisance to Patrick Mahomes.
“Chris Jones and (Frank) Clark don’t let you hold it a long time, either,” Gruden said. “There were a number of different blitzes that we had to pick up, so it was a little bit more challenging than just calling up shots.”
Simple history lesson: If you didn’t watch Gruden in his first go-around in Oakland, then you’re going to be disappointed to see the offense dink-and-dunk it’s way up the field only throwing deep when defenses squat on the shorter routes.
Why didn’t the Raiders involve tight end Darren Waller sooner against KC? He continues to show he’s a matchup nightmare and should have received similar early targets this past Sunday he got in the season opener.