“What the Raiders Should Do About the Good & Bad of Derek Carr”
The Oakland Raiders have a lot of problems. Their defense is not good and they are last in sacks and they have trouble stopping the run. The offense is so vanilla some fans can call the plays before they happen. The Raiders lack long ball threats and the ones they have they platoon. You can’t blame all of their problems on one player or one key thing. The way to turn a team around quick though is to have a quarterback that is really on his game. The question is how can they get Carr to step up and be that player.
I just watched the end of the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens game. San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers had an amazing series which ended up being the game winning touchdown.
Rivers was blitzed by the Ravens on almost every play. He barely had time to breathe let alone throw. He handled it very well. He threw the ball away 3 times, and then passed for quick hitters to wide receiver Keenan Allen and it was very impressive.
Right now that is the difference between a Phillip Rivers and a Derek Carr. Carr can’t handle a pass rush. Experience does matter of course, but ask the 49er fans how they feel about the lack of improvement with Colin Kaepernick.
Part of the blame goes to the NFL. They have a cookie cutter for an NFL quarterback. They want the QB to be tall and have a rocket for an arm. If you have those qualities, you will get lots of chances to play in the NFL.
The problem is the NFL is full of tall quarterbacks who have rocket arms, but have average to bad quarterback skills. Does anyone see RGIII, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton or Jay Cutler holding up a Lombardi Trophy any time soon? Yet some of these players are making staggering amounts of money.
I’m different in my evaluation of quarterbacks. I think the most important qualities in a quarterback are:
- Can handle a rush/pocket awareness & footwork
- Can read a defense
- Good arm
Some say give him time, but time alone doesn’t make a player better. There comes a time when the player has to take responsibility.
In college, Carr looked great when there was no one rushing him, but he struggled mightily when he was rushed. So often did he hurry his throws, not step to the side to avoid a rush, and/or miss a wide open player while throwing to a covered wide receiver. So far in his first year, Carr hasn’t improved in this area. When he’s blitzed instead of getting the ball off quickly, he often back peddles which limits his lateral agility and can cause sacks or bad throws off his back foot. He also seems to panic and sometimes throws to the wrong outlet man because he made the wrong read. It’s what separates the Tom Brady’s from the Jay Cutlers.
Teams now know that if they stop the Raiders running game, for the most part the Raiders are toast. The play calling would make Woody Hayes roll over in his grave because even he would think it’s too conservative. The Raiders have thrown less passes downfield than any other team in the NFL; and it’s not close. This includes Mr. Safe himself, Alex Smith of Kansas City who may lead the league in 1-2 yard check down passes.
What good is it to have a strong armed quarterback if you won’t throw downfield? The Raiders almost always run off tackle on first down and their play calling is so predictable it sometimes looks like the opponent’s defense is calling the plays. Going into a jumbo short yardage package and then emptying the backfield and pretty much telling your opponent that you are going to pass the ball would make Rod Serling wonder what the heck was going on.
What should the Raiders direction for Derek Carr be:
- How long do you give him? I think the Raiders should give him 2 more years.
- The key to Derek Carr’s future is improvement. He must show improvement in handling a rush, choosing the right outlets to throw to, and he needs to audible more and audible correctly.
- Derek Carr reminds me of a Brett Favre type. If I were the Raiders or Carr, I would have some talks and meetings with Favre to go over tape and to see where he can improve. Favre was fast enough that he could make yards with his feet, but Carr’s footwork in the pocket is so bad at times he can’t run. If Carr can start making yards by running some, he will open things up and keep the defense honest. I would also buddy up to Aaron Rodgers and get all the information that he will give them. They are alike in style.
- Get an offensive minded coach in here that will be a good play caller and who will use the middle of the field. Slants are impossible to stop with today’s ridiculous NFL rules and the Raiders rarely do so. Greg Olsen is just awful and they need an offensive coordinator that will work with Carr on how to react properly to pass rushes. He has to learn how to throw the ball away instead of taking bad sacks and terrible chances with throws off his back foot. You can’t scramble if you are back peddling. It would be nice to not run off tackle on first down 95% of the time too.
- It’s obvious they have told him to not audible much, but they need to let him do it more. He needs to read the defense and then audible. If there are 8 guys in the box you don’t run up the middle on first down. You play action pass and go deep.
There is no guarantee Derek Carr is the answer in Oakland, but he has shown a good work ethic and a humbleness that usually is a great atmosphere for learning something.
He has a good arm, a good attitude, and has shown an accuracy when he throws on the run.
You will always have the lunatic fringe members who dub him a good quarterback or say he’s terrible and he needs to go now; but in reality he has potential and lots of room to grow. Whether you want to admit it or not, the Raiders support Derek Carr and he’s going to be here for a while. To what extent he will succeed remains to be seen.