Following a dumpster fire performance in Atlanta, the Las Vegas Raiders head to chilly New York to play the winless New York Jets. I think it is fair to say the Silver and Black cannot overlook anybody at this point. This next week is going to be pivotal to get the team back on track. Quarterback Derek Carr, who played poorly in Week 12, needs to take the steering wheel this week and beyond.
Will the Real Derek Carr Please Stand Up
Outside of the stellar performance against the defending Super Bowl Champions in Week 11, Carr has been kept mostly at bay. In the three wins over the past five games, he has not needed to be a gunslinger, and total team wins were the name of the game. Opening up the season, the Raiders quarterback had started to change the mind of his critics, but following two straight losses, he has a steep hill to climb.
Carr’s comfort in the pocket has begun to waver. Following three fumbles, and a rotating wheel at the offensive line, it is easy to see why. With an interception in each of the last two games (does the KC one really count, though?), he has been rather careless with the ball. For the Raiders to return to their winning ways, he will need to put the team back on his shoulders this week.
What needs to change for the Raiders this week
Running back Josh Jacobs has been a limited participant in practice this week, so it will be up to Carr to open up the passing game. As far as this week, the Jets defense ranks 30th in passing yards but the Falcons ranked 31st last Sunday. Neither of those rankings are impressive and yet, Carr couldn’t take advantage.
Carr’s performance in ‘A-Town’ was obviously disappointing, to say the least. Nonetheless, he has a prime opportunity to show out. Throwing more targets to wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was a sight for sore eyes, and continuing to spread the ball around will be pivotal to a return to the win column.
What Needs to Change for the Future
It is fair to say that Carr is having one of his best years with the Silver and Black. Looking at the season as a whole, don’t be surprised if he signs a contract extension. He’s still on pace for 3,850 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. In addition, 180 yards rushing would be a career-high to go along with Carr’s command of this offense. In his third season under head coach Jon Gruden, it’s been an impressive year so far.
Continuing these trends is paramount, as well as fixing his fumbling problem. Carr leads the league with 11 fumbles. This has always been a critique of his game, and it needs to be fixed fast. Looking to get back into the win column, ‘DC4’ will need to put this offense back on his back, especially this week. Jacobs is questionable to play, the offensive line is still unstable. None of these things are foreign to a savvy veteran. Surely, he has a chip on his shoulder coming into this game, and who doesn’t like an angry Derek Carr?
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Top Photo: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press