With the recent helmet controversy coming to an end for Antonio Brown, the Oakland Raiders can tune out the noise and get back to focusing on football. A tough matchup with the Denver Broncos lingers in week one and Oakland’s offense will need to be at top form. One of the biggest negatives about Brown missing time because of his foot injury and the helmet issue was that he missed valuable time working with his new quarterback, Derek Carr.
On the bright side, the two men worked together extensively in the offseason, so the growing pains shouldn’t be too bad. That duo should be the centerpiece of the Raider offense. Carr is coming off a down year, but Brown will be the best receiver he’s ever had. If this duo can thrive, chances are the Oakland offense will thrive. Despite some missed time on Brown’s part, the connection between the two men should be strong starting in week one.
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Raiders’ Duo Has Edge Over Baker Mayfield & Odell Beckham Jr., Say Analysts
The Antonio Brown-Derek Carr duo isn’t the only new wide receiver-quarterback duo in the AFC that has high expectations. Over in Cleveland, second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will be hitting the field with Odell Beckham Jr. for the 2019 season. The hype for Carr isn’t at the level it is for Mayfield, but few would dispute that Brown and Beckham Jr. are two of the best wide receivers in the NFL. The Browns added a ton of talent in the offseason and they have big expectations for the 2019 season. However, former NFL players DeAngelo Hall and Willie McGinest think the Raiders’ duo will have a stronger start to the season.
“Let’s flip a coin because [neither Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr.] have taken a snap. If you look at the history with AB and Derek Carr, they’ve played together in pro bowls, they had a whole offseason together where they were throwing and catching and saying how much they love each other. And I think when you talk about Antonio Brown having the helmet issue – it has nothing to do with his routes and all those other different things – it was his feet. He’s one of the hardest working guys in the sport, he will be ready.”
McGinest went on to reiterate that he thinks the Raiders’ duo will start the season strong. Former pro bowl cornerback, DeAngelo Hall, agreed with McGinest.
“When you think about how coach Gruden is going to use AB in this offense and just how he is the focal point of that offense,” said Hall. “I think it’s going to be AB-Derek Carr.”
Longtime NFL reporter, Steve Wyche, disagreed with the other two and predicted that the Browns had the better duo.
“We’re talking about in Cleveland, they’ve got all these other options,” said Wyche. “So you can’t double team Odell Beckham every single play.”
Wyche went on to note that the Raiders have a matchup against a tough Broncos defense in week one. Hall and McGinest stuck to their predictions and went with Derek Carr and Antonio Brown.
Derek Carr-Antonio Brown vs. Baker Mayfield-Odell Beckham Jr.
Which duo will actually have a better start to the season really comes down to two things: Will Derek Carr return to 2016 form and will Baker Mayfield avoid a sophomore slump? Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. have proven time and time again that they are two of the best in the game. Carr had a really good run from 2015 to 2016 but hasn’t played to that level over the last two season. Mayfield was impressive in his rookie season, but he went 2-5 on the road.
Another elephant in the room is that Beckham Jr. has had a difficult time staying healthy. He’s missed a lot of time during training camp and has sat out of 21 games during his five-year career. Brown did miss time because of a foot injury this offseason, but he’s already over it and has only missed four games over the last six seasons. He doesn’t have an injury history the same way Beckham Jr. does. Though the Browns’ duo is really exciting, the Raiders’ duo is more reliable, which gives them the edge to start the season.