By most accounts, 2018 was a disappointing year for the Oakland Raider offense, especially for quarterback Derek Carr. However, according to Pro Football Focus, Carr was the most accurate passer on passes that went 20+ yards downfield in the entire NFL.
This is particularly interesting because Carr has earned a reputation as a quarterback that would prefer to checkdown than to air the ball downfield. If he’s so accurate on deep balls, why does he settle for short checkdowns a lot of the time? There could be several reasons for this, but most likely it’s because of the dearth of talent that surrounded Carr in 2018.
Coming off injuries in 2016 and 2017, Carr was likely worried about suffering another one. He also had an inferior offensive line in front of him in 2018. He was sacked 51 times, 4th most in the entire league. Don’t forget the fact that his top receiver, Amari Cooper, was traded away to Dallas halfway through the season, leaving him with tight end Jared Cook as his only reliable target.
With 2018 behind him, Carr has gotten several shiny new toys that’ll allow him to take advantage of his deep ball accuracy.
Follow the Heavy Oakland Raiders page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Amari Cooper had some standout moments during his time with the Raiders, but he’s definitely no Antonio Brown. Brown is a 4-time first team all-pro selection, Cooper’s never even made second team. Time will tell if Cooper continues to show improvement in Dallas, but there’s no question that he needed a change of scenery.
Antonio Brown, on the other hand, seems to be fitting in seamlessly with his new team. Brown has already formed a strong friendship with Derek Carr and they’ve spent time building rapport throughout the offseason. This bodes extremely well for Carr as the 2019 season is viewed as a make or break season for the quarterback who’s entering his 6th year as the starter.
If Carr can’t make it work with Brown, he probably can’t make it work with anybody.
Don’t Sleep on Tyrell Williams
There’s been another wide receiver that’s stood out this offseason and that’s former Los Angeles Charger Tyrell Williams. Williams is regarded as a serious deep threat so this will give Carr a great chance to put his deep ball passing to the test.
In 2019, Derek Carr will be sporting his best receiving corps of his career. Expect many highlights from Williams this upcoming season.
More Time in the Pocket
As previously mentioned, the Raiders had a terrible offensive line last year. A lot of that was due to injuries, but there was also some young talent that hadn’t developed yet. This offseason, the Raiders made a splash by signing former Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown to the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history. He’ll be a vast improvement over Brandon Parker on the right side.
2018 first round pick Kolton Miller should improve in his second year guarding Carr’s blindspot. Many are ready to put the bust label on Miller after a poor rookie season, but people seem to forget that he started off strong before he got bit by the injury bug. Miller has put on some muscle this offseason and seems determined to show improvement.
The loss of former all-pro guard Kelechi Osemele is likely going to hurt, but the blow has been softened with the addition of four-time pro bowler Richie Incognito. If Incognito can keep his emotions in check, he will help solidify the left side of the offensive line.
The decision to keep Tom Cable as the offensive line coach is very concerning, but his group is filled with talent. Don’t expect Cable to last long if the offensive line plays anything like it did last season.
Derek Carr’s been given all the tools to return to MVP form this year. It’s up to him to use them properly.