How Quickly Can Derek Carr and Jon Gruden Acclimate New Weapons?
Quarterback Derek Carr and head coach Jon Gruden will pair up for their third season together. Fans have patiently waited for a more explosive offense. Fair or not, many of them won’t accept coronavirus-related excuses.
Carr knows the offense, and he’s improved every year under Gruden. Despite the lack of weapons around him, the 29-year-old signal-caller threw for a career-high 4,054 yards and led the 11th-ranked aerial attack in 2019. However, the team struggled to finish drives with six points and listed 24th in scoring.
Going into camp, Carr should have a solid rapport with Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and Jalen Richard—his top four targets from the previous term. Now, he’s expected to build a connection with Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Nelson Agholor, Jason Witten and possibly Lynn Bowden Jr. under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Ruggs showed a glimpse of what he can do during informal workouts. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson heard some of the buzz and shared that with Eddie Paskal of the team’s official website (starts at 13:18):
“Before the NFL shut down the player-driven workouts, we were getting feedback from our veteran players that was very positive concerning Ruggs,” Olson said. ‘Coach, this guy is not only fast, but this guy runs great routes and has great hands, strong hands. He is a strong, physical player.’
Carr compared Edwards to 14-year NFL veteran Anquan Boldin, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic.
"He plays the receiver position with such a physical presence, Carr said. He reminds me of Anquan Boldin, his stiff arms and him just running through people."
Aside from the two rookie wide receivers, Carr will have a potential Hall of Fame tight end in Witten to tie up loose ends in red-zone situations and Agholor’s inside-out versatility.
Bowden could become an X-Factor in the joker role as a ball-carrier and pass-catcher out of the backfield.
The Raiders have the offensive talent to field a top-10 scoring offense. Gruden has to fit new weapons into his scheme, and Carr must execute the game plan. This unit is built to take on a more aggressive approach. We’ll find out if a lack of practices leads to conservative play-calling and decision-making early in the season.