Oakland Raiders: Five players under pressure in 2015
By Chase Ruttig
Jun 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Why he is under pressure: Carr was the first ever rookie quarterback to start Week 1 for the Raiders franchise during 2014, starting all 16 games, finishing strong with three straight home victories in a year that was up and down with a 3-13 record. Still, the former Fresno State QB showed enough in a trying season to earn the label that he is the future of the franchise for a Raiders organization that has been looking for a consistent quarterback since Rich Gannon retired.
Fans and the majority of analysts are feeling that the former 5,000 yard 50 TD passer at Fresno can finally give this franchise what they need at quarterback after nearly a decade of players who showed promise at times, but were inconsistent at best for the most part. Quarterbacks like Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer, and even the likes of Terrelle Pryor along with Matt McGloin all at times getting the hopes of the fans up before eventually not working out for the Raiders.
Because of the long documented struggles at the position and the hope that Carr provides there is always going to be pressure on the quarterback until the Raiders get back to a contending level. Still dealing with a rebuilding roster that could be a season or two away from being a playoff team in the AFC West, Carr needs to show individual progress while also needing to guide the offense to a better W/L record than the 3-13 finish in his rookie season. Being slapped with the “future of the franchise” tag comes with a ton of pressure, and even if Carr is a cool customer who works hard to make himself the best player possible every day of his life there are going to be expectations that he needs to live up to in 2015.
Can he break the pressure: Luckily for Carr, he is going to be blessed with a far better roster with offensive weapons that he did not have the luxury of having last season as a rookie. Rookies Amari Cooper and Clive Walford should be dependable targets along with the veteran Michael Crabtree, while the running game was improved with the Roy Helu Jr. signing (plus the potential diamond in the rough reclamation project that is Trent Richardson) to give Carr the tools he needs to build on his first season in the NFL. Because of that it is a safe bet that in terms of individual statistics that Carr will live up to the expectation that he will grow into the quarterback that is going to guide the Raiders back to the playoffs down the road.
When it comes to helping guide the Raiders to team success the question gets a bit trickier as Oakland are still the fourth best team in their division, a spot that puts them on the outside looking in of contending for a winning record. If fans are expecting that from Carr at this stage of his career and the position the Raiders are in with their rebuild it is unrealistic.
If the expectation is that Carr improves along with the team as part of their plan to slowly become a contender once the aging teams in their division begin to regress, 2015 will be a success for Carr. For those with the lofty goal of the Raiders having their first winning record since the AFC Championship season, that just isn’t going to happen unless a ton of things go both Carr and the Raiders way this year.
Next: Under Pressure: DJ Hayden