Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr is the key to success


The Oakland Raiders can only go as far as quarterback Derek Carr takes them.

You do not need to be an expert to know the Oakland Raiders raised expectations this offseason. The Raiders signed marquee free agents Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin and Reggie Nelson.

Many NFL outsiders and insiders pick this squad as postseason contenders because of these additions. However, the Raiders especially need development from one critical player on the roster.

What is the key to their newly predicted success?

Personally, I will not go that far because I can not objectively say my favorite team will make the playoffs, nor will I jinx the squad.

Instead, I will say the Raiders can only go as far as Derek Carr takes them.

To put it in the words of the social media famous DJ Khalid, Carr is the key to success for the Raiders.

Carr must continue developing as a leader. He should not have a problem with this.

As the younger brother of David Carr, Derek understands the preparation and leadership necessary to become a quarterback in the NFL. It is something he began prep for years ago.

Carr showed natural leadership from his first day as a starter, and he already addressed it is time for him to takeover as leader.

"“As a leader of this team, I’m going to concentrate on pushing to get better every day.” Carr said as the team opened organized activities."

In his second year, Carr lead the Raiders to 7-9 start. The squad finished outside of the playoffs after suffering five losses by less than one possession. Carr said that is not good enough.

"“I think we were close to winning 10 games.” Carr said. “We have to continue to push ourselves to do better than that.”"

The only way the Raiders can reach that goal is if Carr himself gets better.

He ranked No. 26 in QB rating, largely due to poor performances in the clutch. Sometimes the No. 22 ranked Oakland defense let him down in 2015.

This year, Carr has no excuses.

As a rookie, Carr’s 5.3 average-yards-per-attempt left much to be desired.

Then the team added Clive Walford and Amari Cooper in the draft. Oakland also signed Michael Crabtree and Lee Smith as aids in the passing game.

Carr’s touchdowns went up 11 and his interceptions only one in 2016. His average-yards-per-attempt also increased to 7.1.

Football Outsiders ranked Carr as the No. 12 most valuable quarterback. This is based on his performance compared to a replacement.

Now, Oakland added three marquee free agents on the defensive side of the ball. Aldon Smith also rejoins the team after week 10. Hence, the No. 22 ranked defense in 2015 should also improve for Carr.

That means the pressure is on for Carr to succeed. He made a Pro Bowl last season, but he must continue developing into an elite quarterback. Any serious playoff team depends on a smart playmaker at signal-caller.

Carr forced some crucial turnovers in crunch time last season. The third-year pro must learn from those mistakes, because the newly improved defense will keep the Raiders in close games. Therefore, the team will rely on Carr as the closer.  Carr must lead Oakland to victories in close games that the team should win.

Finally, the AFC West is wide-open thanks to Peyton Manning retiring from the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. Carr could easily emerge as the best quarterback in the division over Mark Sanchez, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith. That would give the Silver and Black an edge over their division rivals.

Either way, Carr’s development is a major key to the Oakland Raiders in success. The franchise will rise and fall with the 2014 second round pick.

If Carr continues improving then the Raiders should too. Who knows, maybe he can lead the team to a postseason run? The stage is set for Carr to lead the team to success.