The Oakland Raiders brought in a lot of talent around quarterback Derek Carr in 2019, who will look to silence his doubters in year No. 6.
The 2018 season for the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr was a season not to remember. The season saw All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack traded to the Chicago Bears, as well as Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper traded to the Dallas Cowboys.
With a barren roster, the team finished last in the AFC west division at 4-12.
Now let’s get the negative truth out of the way first. Derek Carr in five seasons has an overall record of 32-46, never played in an NFL playoff game, and In 2018 only threw 19 touchdown passes.
The criticism thrown his way is justified to some degree, but let’s dig a little deeper starting with his wide receivers.
Despite the talent of Amari Cooper, he had missed periods of time due to injury, and outside of Cooper, Carr has had other targets in Michael Crabtree and Jared Cook, but they were good, not great talents.
Add in the fact somehow Carr even hit for 4,000 passing yards in 2018 is quite a testament to his talent. His leading receiver was tight end Cook and an aging Jordy Nelson.
This offseason saw a major upgrade in the receiver department. First up was All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, a top-five player at his position, who was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is by far the best target Carr has ever had on the Raiders.
Along with the talent of Brown, the Raiders added Tyrell Williams, a deep threat receiver from their division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers via free agency. He will line up as the number two, and give Carr plenty of chances to provide him with deep looks down the field.
The Raiders also brought in speedster J.J. Nelson, as well as Ryan Grant and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow via the NFL Draft. Now with a bevy of targets to throw to, Carr is finally loaded in the wide receiver department.
Now lets address the elephant in the room, the protection of Carr. Last year Carr was sacked 51 times. A lot has been discussed about the scheme of offensive line coach Tom Cable, but despite this he’s still around and he was not the one on the field allowing those sacks.
Kolton Miller, the Raiders 2018 first round pick, was thrust into the starting left tackle role as a rookie last season, and struggled with injuries, and inconsistency. He will have to be better in 2019, and should be, thanks to the talented player the Raiders added to the other side of the line.
The Raiders made an even bigger splash in the offseason by adding Trent Brown to play right tackle, as the former blindside protection of Tom Brady was awarded a contract that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in football. Despite criticism for the deal among the media, the deal seems to be a good one, especially when you consider how many times Carr was on his back the season before.
Another move which may be underrated by many is the drafting of Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. In fact, in the five seasons Carr has started for the Raiders, he has only once had a running back rush for 1,000 yards.
Enter Jacobs, despite splitting time among a group of running backs at Alabama, he showed that he had the ability to not only move the sticks, but also the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Jacobs will be a breath of fresh air out of the backfield, and despite having a solid roster of backs will have the ability to be a three-down back, something Carr has never had in Oakland.
With the many improvements around Carr and a relocation trip to Las Vegas on tap for next season, the pressure is on his shoulders to lead this team back out of the cellar of the AFC West. Now, with an improved offensive line, better receivers and a running back with superstar potential, the expectations for Carr might be higher then they have ever been.
It is up to Carr to show if he really is the franchise quarterback the Raiders believe they have, and silence all of the doubters outside of the building.