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“Are Raider Fans Being Too Hard on Derek Carr; Is He Worth The Money?; What Happened to the Offense?; Derek Carr Thursday”

derek carr struggles

When will I learn.

Sometimes I get a little carried away on Facebook. I admit it. The good is that I see thoughtful, smart people bringing good takes and knowledge into many subjects.  Some have even sought me out on social media to talk to me or ask me questions.  Others personally email me or even talked to me on the phone.   I’ve even become friends with some famous people who are mad enough to like my writing.  Then I see some of the most insane comments and it makes my eyes pop out. From Tom Brady is a bad QB, to what leaders are part of the reptilian race, to the “fact” that the world is really flat and we could still fall off the end of it; there is no end to the Facebook insanity.  The statements would be funny if these people didn’t have kids, but that’s for another day. In regards to the Raiders though, I was surprised at how nasty some Raider fans have been in regards to Derek Carr.

Is Derek Carr Worth the Money?

The reality is, Oakland had to pay Carr that much especially after such a great year.  I get some people’s issues with spending that much. Let’s be real; MANY of the QB’s in the NFL aren’t worth the money.   Even with the rules making looking at a WR a penalty, the QB position in the NFL may never be as bad as it is today.   When the media is trying to tell us how good Kirk Cousins is, or that Jay Cutler is really a great QB when he wants to be, or that Matthew Stafford might be a hall of famer when he’s 4-45 against teams that eventually make the playoffs, I want to throw up. These are QB’s who are making gobs of money but no way are they great. Their numbers are amazing because the rules have changed so much making passing the ball so easy. Could you imagine Montana, Elway, Stabler or Marino, or Rice with these rules?

The answer is no, Derek Carr is not worth the money but that is the going rate and they had to pay him or they would have lost him. The QB position is in such a bad state that many in the media were raving about Tyrod Taylor who was near last in most every passing category do having Carr is more than a good thing.   The truth is the Raiders had to pay Derek or start over; again. Any Raider fan want to go back to that state?

The Truth About Derek Carr:

I’m so glad Raider fans have come around. Over the last 4 years I’ve taken a TON of heat from them for Derek Carr, but that hate is gone. Those same people are now understanding what I’ve been saying and even agreeing with me.

I said 4 years ago that he would be a good QB but not a great one. When many fans last year said he was the greatest QB in Raiders history I just winced. The media went nuts over him. Now the same media and some of the same fans are pointing out weaknesses and two prominent people in the media said he’s way overrated. One person this morning online wanted to start a petition to bench him. Everything is so manic these days in the world of social media.

AGAIN; Carr is a solid NFL QB. His strengths are his arm and he’s accurate when he has time to step up in the pocket and throw. When he’s on the move and no one is trying to sack him, he’s very accurate and makes good decisions. He’s a positive leader and takes responsibility for the team and the players.   In today’s game that is rare.

What Derek struggles with is that he’s not good when he’s under pressure.   He gets flustered when he’s under a tough rush and then he begins to throw too soon, missing passes. He also doesn’t run enough. It’s just not in his makeup.

He is also not a great game manager at times. Some fan tried to convince me that Derek isn’t allowed to audible but that’s insane; high school QB’s audible. He audibles at times, but not enough of the time. Watch Ben Roethlesberger, or Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. There are some drives where they audible every play. The QB is the coach on the field and he has to have a feel for what plays are needed. You can’t rip on Todd Downing without ripping on Carr who has the final say for what plays are used on the field. A few fans said he’s just uncomfortable doing it. Well if you want to be the highest paid player in the NFL, then get comfortable.

Derek has mostly good and some bad, but he is solid and many teams would love to have him. If you are looking for Ken Stabler and Daryl Lamonica in Derek Carr, it’s not happening. With his arm, I wish Derek would watch a lot of Lamonica’s films because he could learn a ton from the “Mad Bomber”.  I do agree however with some of the fans that have said he’s the highest paid player in the NFL so why should we cut him a break. I get it. I’m just telling you what I think are his talents and his weaknesses, but I hear you.

Why Has Carr & the Offense Struggled This Year:

First off, please stop with the injury excuses. Derek hasn’t been injured in weeks. The back injury he has is not rare. Players usually come back within 2 weeks. Some come back within a week. Tony Romo talked about the injury and said it sounds worse than it is. Yet months later some fans want to use that as an excuse. No; Even Derek said he’s good to go and has been for a while and he’s not even listed on any injury report. The NFL goes crazy if you are injured and you don’t report it. Tom Brady has been on the injury report for weeks with an Achilles injury but in reality it’s not a big deal. You have to report it though.

The rumor that the team turned on him due to the national anthem thing is ridiculous. These guys love him and are personal friends with him. Carr every year gets all of the OL big gifts for Christmas to thank them for their play.   This issue was high school drama and the media tried to fuel it like they were creating a reality show. The NFL even got caught up into it thinking it would increase ratings but it did the opposite. Now you are hardly hear about it and the NFL doesn’t comment on it any more.

What DID happen is that the Raiders are playing a much tougher schedule than last year for one. Last year the Raiders were barely beating bad teams for much of the year. They were 12-4 but they also had the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL. This year they have the 29th-30th easiest. That makes a huge difference.

Another thing is the Raiders are doing NOTHING different. Teams have adjusted to the Raiders and now play press coverage to take away the short passes. Last year if you look at tape, teams were giving the Raiders 10-15 yard cushions worrying about the deep ball. Carr lead the NFL on how quickly he got rid of the ball because the short throws were there all day. Unfortunately he leads the NFL again this year in that category. The problem is that teams are no longer giving the Raiders the short ball.

Look at the Chiefs? Head Coach Andy Reid won’t adjust anything even after a long losing streak. Teams now play 2 deep to take away the deep ball and try to take away the run on first down. He won’t change though.   Change is a 4 letter word in the NFL.   It’s been an Andy Reid weakness for years. Now QB Alex Smith is still trying to throw deep with really bad results.

The Raiders need to readjust but with an inexperienced OC and a QB who is not big on audibles, you have defenses daring the Raiders the throw deep. Carr has thrown many more interceptions this year and he seems gun shy now. Another area of concern is the Raiders WR’s have struggled with drops. Amari Cooper has been bothered by the more physical play of the DB’s on him and he needs to be stronger off the line. The press coverage has really controlled him. In Cooper’s big game against the Chiefs, KC played an insane defense of ½ cover 2 but then played up on Crabtree, and they gave a cushion to Cooper. Cooper was open all day. Andy Reid has a history of over coaching and over thinking things and he did it again.   The Chiefs were one of the few teams that had been giving the Raiders trouble last year, but they changed their defense. It makes no sense.

The Raiders also went to the zone blocking scheme up front to suit Marshawn Lynch which was ridiculous. The Zone blocking scheme was popular when the 49ers and Broncos of the 80’s and 90’s used it due to them having smaller but quicker OL. The Raiders have a huge, physical OL. They need to go back to the power run game and tell Marshawn it is what it is.

The Future of Derek Carr with the Raiders:

Derek Carr is going no where so you can want to trade him, drop him or bench him, but none of that is happening. Until next year, he’s the highest paid player in the NFL. He’s going to be the Raiders QB for the upcoming years at least. The Raiders need to hire an experienced OC who is going to push Carr to be more aggressive on the field, something that won’t be easy.

Ken Stabler would throw an interception, look who’s in the crowd watching the game, and then throw a TD to Cliff Branch on the next drive. For the great ones, their confidence levels are extremely high and they get over an interception quickly and come out swinging.   Derek is different and when he starts throwing INT’s you can literally see his demeanor change.

Even with the hiring of Downing, Carr has to take some blame. Part of the reason they hired him was to make Derek Happy because he really likes him.  It’s obvious Downing is not the answer as offensive coordinator.

Jims Jamz:

When you see the state of the NFL QB today, Derek Carr is a solid option and many teams would love to have him. He’s the Raiders QB and he’s a good one, but he also has limitations.  Put Carr on Buffalo and they immediately become a top team. With the Raiders defense lacking talent, and their coaches on the hot seat trying to keep their jobs, the Raiders have a lot more bigger fish to fry than to worry about Derek Carr. This off season will definitely be a wild one in the east bay.

 

 

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“The Raiders Improve to 7-9; Evaluating Derek Carr & the Offense & Moving Forward”

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Derek Carr Warming Up on the Sidelines

 

You could sum up the Raiders offense this year by saying it was a tale of two season. There were many highs and some lows.  Let’s look at straight forward answers as to the positives of the season and what actually went wrong.

Overall Personnel:

The Raiders spent a lot of money and personnel on the offensive side of the ball. No team in the NFL did more for their offense than the Raiders did.

Some fans seem to want track stars at every wide receiver position, Adrian Peterson at Running back, and every offensive linemen being all pro’s.   This is the salary cap era and you need to be real. Let’s look at the positions and see where the Raiders look good, and where there needs to be improvement.

Running Back:

I like the Raiders running backs. Latavius Murray is solid as a starter but he gets too many carries.   Jamize Olawale has talent but he’s not getting the ball enough, just like Marcel Reece.

It took the Raiders 17 weeks to realize they had Roy Helu Jr. on the team.   I’m shocked he wasn’t used more in the passing game this year.

This can be a solid group but the ball needs to be spread out more. They have the talent but you can’t see it if you don’t use it. The Raiders coaches did a poor job of using the players that they had.

Wide Recievers:

I think Tom Brady was using YMCA players at times this season. The thing is they still are the #2 seed in the playoffs.   If your QB needs a great OL, amazing RB’s and awesome WR’s, then he’s really not that good. NO ONE HAS THAT!

That being said I like the Raiders WR core. Cooper had the dropsies at times but he has a great future and Mike Crabtree is as reliable and as solid a WR as their is. He’s been the best addition in free agency that the Raiders had this year.

I’m not a Seth Roberts fan; he’s made some good catches but Andre Holmes is more talented and needs regular playing time. If they don’t think he can do it, then drop him and get a better #3 in free agency. You can get another player with speed that can stretch the field more.

Tight Ends:

Next year, I think the Raiders can have a top 5 core at tight end. Lee Smith is flat out the best blocking TE in the NFL and he even caught some passes this year. Mychal Rivera needs more touches and Clive Walford is going to be a good one. Unless the Raiders find a way to get the tight ends the ball though, it’s a waste.

 Why did the Offense Struggle In the Second Half?:

You can literally point to one game that changed the direction of the offense. That was the home game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings have a good team and even with injuries, they have a good defense.   Their coaches had 2 goals; take the long pass away, and rush Carr. They did both. They started playing their safeties back, taking away the long ball and the Raiders struggled. Teams started doing the same thing.

Another thing is teams started to blitz more. In the Kansas City game in Oakland, the Chiefs blitzed almost every play in the fourth quarter and it rattled Derek Carr. He ended up throwing 3 int’s in that quarter and that wasn’t a coincidence.

If you look at the changes teams made against the Raiders, in Derek Carr’s first 8 games of the season he had 19 TD’s and 4 interceptions. In the last 8 games he had 13 TD’s and 9 interceptions.

How do You Fix The Offense:

The Raiders stats in the mid range passing game is one of the worst in the NFL. They have to get the tight ends more involved. There needs to be near 10 passes a game to them. Not to get too technical but when the Raiders played a two tight end set, the seam pass was very successful and was there all day. With Amari Cooper going deep it occupies the safety. Have one tight end go straight up the field and there is a lot of space. The Raiders tight ends had several good pass catches using that play. The Raiders tight ends are solid and they have to be a weapon next year. If the Raiders continue to throw either deep or very short, nothing is going to change.   It will also make the run game predictable and hurt that.

Evaluating Derek Carr:

I didn’t think Derek Carr would be as polarizing as he has been. When fans ask me about him I always tell them that if people say he sucks, don’t listen to them, and if people are checking to see who will introduce him at his hall of fame speech, then don’t listen to them either.

The Good:

First off for those that either want him benched or dumped, you’ve got to be kidding. Have you seen the quality; or lack of; in the quarterback position in the NFL? Who is going to replace him? (And if you say Matt McGloin, it’s good to hear from the McGloin Family). Half of the teams in the NFL are begging to find a QB and there are teams like Buffalo that is one QB away from being a playoff team. In the 1970’s and most of the 80’s, even bad teams had good to fair quarterbacks.   Now most teams don’t have a good QB.

Derek Carr has a lot of good qualities that will make him a solid quarterback for a long time. He has a strong arm, can be accurate on the run, and is a solid leader. When he has great time he’s very accurate and productive.  His teammates appreciate and believe in him and that is a big thing to look at as well. He’s even keeled and doesn’t lose his mind if things don’t go well.

The Bad:

I like Derek Carr but he has weaknesses for sure. His biggest one is his poor play when he’s under a pass rush.   In the first part of the year he was barely touched and he flourished; the second half the pass rush rattled him some.

Tom Brady, Ben Roethlesberger, Ken Stabler, Joe Montana, etc….. These are just some of the guys that can get sacked 6 times in a game but they will still do well and their teams usually win. That’s not Derek Carr.

He’s now 1-12 as a starter when he’s sacked 3 times or more in a game.   He tends to rush his throws and throws high when he’s he’s under a pass rush.  His timing is way off and he struggles.

Some tried to say, “look at his stats against the blitz”. Well they dropped in the second half of the season plus they are very misleading. WHAT IF THE BLITZ IS PICKED UP! Then the QB gets credit for it when in reality it was the OL and RB’s that protected him that should get the credit. (see why stats can be misleading).

His 4th quarter quarterback rating is 31st in the NFL (only the Rams Nick Foles is worse) and he has more 4th quarter int’s than any qb in the NFL this year.  He needs to make better decisions late in games.

His Numbers:

Fans of his LOVE to bring up his numbers but let’s face it, these new rules have made passing the ball much easier than in the past.

Kirk Cousins threw for more passing yards than any other Washington QB in history. Does anyone in their right mind think Kirk Cousins is a good QB. Is he better than Joe Theisman, Sammy Baugh, Doug Williams, and Sonny Jurgensen? Cousins also has more passing yards than Carr. Do you want Cousins over Carr? Of course not.  And remember than in their second year, Dan Marino lead the Dolphins to a Super Bowl, and Tom Brady won a Super Bowl leading the Patriots.

Below are the NFL records for passing yards in a season. This is the 14 greatest seasons in NFL history.   Notice anything? Twelve of these seasons have happened in the last 4 years when the rules changed protecting Wide Receivers. What is a penalty now was normal play 5 years ago. They’ve also been setting records the last 4 years for the # of defensive back penalties called. Anyone think Matthew Stafford is one of the greatest QB’s of all time?

NFL Passing Yards in a Season:

1. Peyton Manning (37) 5,477 2013 DEN
2. Drew Brees (32) 5,476 2011 NOR
3. Tom Brady (34) 5,235 2011 NWE
4. Drew Brees (33) 5,177 2012 NOR
5. Drew Brees (34) 5,162 2013 NOR
6. Dan Marino+ (22) 5,084 1984 MIA
7. Drew Brees (29) 5,069 2008 NOR
8. Matthew Stafford (23) 5,038 2011 DET
9. Matthew Stafford (24) 4,967 2012 DET
10. Drew Brees (35) 4,952 2014 NOR
Ben Roethlisberger (32) 4,952 2014 PIT
12. Eli Manning (30) 4,933 2011 NYG
13. Tony Romo (32) 4,903 2012 DAL
14. Drew Brees (36) 4,870 2015 NOR

In conclusion Derek Carr is going to be a solid NFL qb for a long time but he does have issues. The Raiders protecting him is vital. They are going to have to have a great OL to keep him protected.

Bill Musgrave:

The Raiders were never thinking of having any coaching changes; that was just social media hype; but next year is a key year for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The Raiders lack of adjustments to teams taking away the long ball was glaring.   They have to use the tight ends in the offense and use the other RB’s much more often. What good is it to draft a talented tight end in Clive Walford and sign the best third down running back in Roy Helu Jr. if you aren’t going to use them?  Next year is the year the Raiders offense needs to get to the next level.

 

“Andy Kaufman: He Would Have Broken The Internet: From Wrestling to Hoaxes”

andy kaufman jerry lawler

Andy Kaufman was not a comedian.

When you ask a comedian what their goal is they will say to make people laugh. Andy Kaufman was different. His goal was to make himself laugh and to make you wonder if what he was doing was real or not. His goal was to watch people squirm in the realm of wonder.

Many people have said that Andy was a trail blazer for comedian’s, but I disagree. When it came to comedy, he saw the darkest and deepest path and took it.   No one then or since has ever followed him and taken that same path.

Andy once said he felt more like a song and dance man, but in reality he was so much more. From the beginning of his career you knew you were watching something unique. I’ve talked to a few people that saw Andy in clubs and the words they use to describe the shows are funny, uncomfortable, and thought provoking,

He stirred the pot and he wanted to mess with your mind by making you wonder if what you were seeing was reality or not. Life was a big prank to him and he would go to any lengths to make it seem real. Andy wanted to make himself laugh and to create a world where nothing was for sure. How many times did he do a routine where he was down and out with a hard luck story and when the crowd laughed he would smirk and say, “you shouldn’t be laughing because I’m being serious”. The crowd would then be quiet and you could feel how uncomfortable they were. Of course he wasn’t serious, and of course Andy loved it.

Some people felt disappointed when he did the television show Taxi, but he did that on the coaxing of his manager George Shapiro. Even though he hated sitcoms, it gave Andy the money and the fame to do what he wanted to do. In an interview with Tony Danza that is online, Danza said that Andy rarely came to the set during weekly rehearsals and that he stayed private. The cast of Taxi was a friendly environment and it brought an heir of animosity when Kaufman would just show up to the final reading, and then the day of tapings. What made the cast even more angry is that Andy never made a mistake.

Andy’s most famous antics to this day are still being debated. In one of his earliest appearances on David Letterman, he showed up saying he was financially strapped and needed help. David asked him what he was working on and Andy said nothing.   Letterman then asked about his bookings and Andy said he had none. He was unshaven and disheveled and had large amounts of mucous under his nose.   Letterman gave him tissue before Kaufman pleaded with the crowd to give him money to help him out. He walked out into the crowd and people started to give him money before security sent him away. Letterman wasn’t laughing.

The character Tony Clifton was pure genius. Andy created a character that was a lounge singer who was below the belt nasty with little to no talent.   In his contract, Andy actually had it written in that Tony was do to a handful of Taxi episodes. Clifton would show up each time to the Taxi set with a hooker on each arm, both being at least 6 feet tall. He then stated that the hookers would now be a part of the show.   Clifton was fired but he would not leave the set. The media; which Andy called; had a field day when Clifton was made to leave.

One of the all time epic storylines in wrestling history was the famous Andy Kaufman v.s. Jerry Lawler feud. Andy had spent months on Saturday Night Live wrestling women and began calling himself the inter gender champion.   Kaufman said that women were superior in cleaning, washing potatoes and carrots and scrubbing floors. People were incensed.  He also would get into the ring to teach the “redneck” people of Memphis, TN how to use soap and wash themselves.  The crowd went nuts!

Andy contacted Vince McMahon Sr. to see if he could get involved in the New York wrestling scene. Mr. McMahon Sr. was very sensitive to bringing anything fake into the wrestling world; the term sports entertainment hadn’t been invented yet; so he declined thinking it would ruin wrestling. Andy had a wrestling photographer friend in Bill Aptos, and he had Andy call Jerry Lawler in Memphis wrestling.

Lawler being a great showman knew this was a huge opportunity. He and Andy conspired to fool the world. Over time Lawler would coach a female wrestler to wrestle Andy. When Andy won, Lawler then challenged Andy.   In the famous first match Lawler did 2 pile drivers; a hold that powers your head into the mat; and Andy looked like he was dead but was only slightly hurt.

In a funny story, after the 2nd pile driver, Andy lay motionless on the mat. His partner in crime, writer and producer and sometimes Tony Clifton character Bob Zmuda, asked Andy if he was ok. Bob was actually the referee during the match. With the crowd roaring their approval, Andy quietly told Bob to call an ambulance. Bob then walked over to Lawler and told Jerry what Andy wanted to do. Lawler who is known for being frugal, said no way because it would cost $300. Zmuda walked over to check on Andy and told him what Lawler said. Andy whispered, “I’ll pay for it”. When Zmuda told him Andy would pay for it, Lawler said go get an ambulance.

Andy also did some very short lived television shows that were not overly supported by the networks due to his unpredictability. In one show Andy actually had the network mess up the vertical hold on the program.   This would make viewers at home think something was wrong with their tv’s.

Andy’s dream was to do a show at Carnegie Hall which he did in 1979. Saturday night live actually did a small story about it on their program that was very touching.

In a tender moment he brought out his “grandmother” who sat on the side of the stage to watch the show. She took a bow. At the end of the show his grandmother got up and clapped and then took off her mask. It was none other than his friend, fellow comedian Robin Williams.

Andy also had an elderly woman die on stage only to have him come back out as an Indian. He did a dance to revive her after the doctors pronounced her dead.  At the end of the show he wanted to thank the crowd and he had 24 busses take them out for milk and cookies and invited anyone who wanted to meet him to come to the Staten Island Ferry the next morning. He did some more bits and met his adoring fans.

Within six months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer, Andy Kaufman sadly died on May 16, 1984.   His friend Jerry Lawler was in attendance at his funeral fighting back tears. Even then, tabloids, fans and the media wondered if this wasn’t another huge hoax. He had talked about faking his own death for years, but unfortunately this was not a hoax.

He was before my time but he always fascinated me and I loved learning about him. And with so many nominally talented people being famous for sex tapes, being sleazy or vulgar; or for just being attractive; you wonder what a talented person like Andy would have done to the social media world of today.

Could you imagine all of the twitter discussions or the YouTube videos proving or disproving things he said or did?  With social media he would have reached millions in a blink of an eye in a way no comedian ever could.  He would have had the world scratching it’s head but laughing all the way.  And in true form, nothing would have been more pleasing to the great Andy Kaufman.