Las Vegas Raiders: Is Derek Carr better without Jon Gruden?
The Performance is the Pudding
Since Week 1, there’s no denying Carr’s been a man on a mission. Through the first three weeks, we saw him throw for 435, 382, 386 yards in two overtime wins and a big team win against the Steelers in Week 2.
After that, though the Raiders dropped two games in a row to a very tough Chargers team, and a Bears team that they no doubt should have beaten.
The Raiders run game has been subpar all year, especially when Josh Jacobs has been absent. Derek Carr has had to try and carry the offense through the passing game. His attempts through three games have gone 56, 37, and 43 which helps explain the high passing yards.
But while the attempts in the Chargers and Bears games only dropped slightly (34, 35 respectively), his effectiveness and efficiency dropped substantially. His yards in those games dropped to 196 and 206. He only threw two touchdowns combined in both games and had a QBR of 84.9 and 67.1 which were both his lowest of the season heading into those games.
Then the Gruden stuff dropped and there was this big question mark hanging over the team on how they’d respond. Derek Carr is undoubtedly one of the biggest leaders, if not the biggest in that locker room. Everything coming from players and coaches alike echoed that he has been very motivational and supportive of every player, while also getting across the message that they still have a game to play and season to focus on.
But would that leadership transition to the field?
The Broncos game was the first obstacle. But facing one of the top defenses in the league didn’t phase Carr or the offense. He went 18/27 for 341 yards and a season-best 134.4 QBR. The Raiders cruised to a 34-24 victory where the score made it look closer than it actually was. The Eagles game proved no different. Carr was an astonishing 31/34 with 323 passing yards and a completion percentage of 91.18 that put him second all-time behind Drew Brees’ 96.7 in a single game of 30+ pass attempts.
The difference between the last two games and the first five of the season are this: With more control over the offense and a play-caller in Greg Olson that isn’t afraid to let Derek Carr 100% do his thing when he gets on a roll, not only has he been more efficient but also more aggressive.
Where Jon Gruden might try to force the run to work even when it isn’t, Carr can see what is working and rely on it as opposed to being stubborn about the game plan. Carr has been able to establish the pass to set up the run, which has provided the Raiders with their 2nd and 3rd best rushing yard games of the season.