The Las Vegas Raiders made many changes this offseason in order to improve their 2019 7-9 record. They aggressively addressed needs on both sides of the ball. Nonetheless, they will need their most important players to play well if they want to take the next step.
Last season, the Raiders defense allowed the 24th most points in the NFL, and scored the 24th most as well. The team’s brass knew they needed to make changes and they did as many as they could earlier this year. They got quarterback Derek Carr a couple new receivers and a running back in the draft. Also, they added important players to all levels of defense.
On paper, there’s a clear difference between the level of talent the team had last year and the one they possess. Carr has arguably the best surrounding cast he’s had in his tenure with the Raiders. It’s up to him to make the most out of it and just or not, the organization will go as far as Carr takes them.
The Raiders roster wasn’t bare in 2019
Football is a team sport, but there are positions that are more important than others.. There’s a reason quarterbacks receive the highest compensation and why teams prioritize getting a franchise signal-caller over a franchise punter. Signal-callers require a competent surrounding cast. They can’t do everything themselves, but their impact on a game’s outcome is clear.
Even though the Raiders had plenty of holes on their roster last season, they also had plenty of good players. The Silver and Black’s offensive line was one of the best in the league, and their 2019 draft class showed encouraging signs. On offense, Josh Jacobs became the team’s featured running back, and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow finished the season strong. On defense, cornerback Trayvon Mullen, and Maxx Crosby will take over two starting spots in 2020, and Clelin Ferrell is working towards fulfilling his potential.
Derek Carr has to play better too
Keep in mind the Raiders finished the season 7-9 despite the aforementioned talent. However, it was enough to help Carr finish the year with solid numbers. The veteran threw for 4,054 yards, and is the only quarterback in NFL history besides Drew Brees to finish a season with a QB rating over 70.0 and less than 10 interceptions.
On the other hand, Carr’s quarterback rating drops considerably went temperatures are below 50 degrees. Furthermore, he had the 6th biggest drop-off in PFF grade from when passing to his first read to his non-first read. Those two issues fall on Carr, not his receivers or the defense, and he’s the sole person that has control over both.
Carr has to bear blame too, not just the defense. We can’t praise him for the times he has lead the Raiders to a comeback victory just to dismiss his record as a starter. When pointing to his 4,000 yard season, we have to take his 21 touchdowns, which ranked 19th in 2019, in account. Although Carr’s performance is affected by the kind of surrounding cast he has, there are things that exclusively fall on him.
Everyone has to be accountable
We can’t be absolute and say it’s either Carr’s fault or the defense’s. While the Raiders defense was at times a liability last season, Carr didn’t put enough points on the board to give his team a fighting chance. Gruden should be held accountable too. Nobody but him is responsible for second half adjustments and a game plan that looked conservative at times last season.
Having said that, Raiders fans should root for Carr in 2020. If he’s better, the whole team will benefit from it. If he has a subpar performance, everyone around him will be affected because of it. A stout defense will make enough stops to give the offense an opportunity to win the game, it will be up to the quarterback to take advantage of it. After all, football is a team game, isn’t it?
You May Also Like: Raiders TE Jason Witten Believes Teammate Darren Waller Can Be Even Better
Top Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)