With the season winding down, the Oakland Raiders–Derek Carr rumors have already come back in full force. People seem convinced that head coach Jon Gruden will never be content with a quarterback and that he’ll get rid of Carr after the season. He certainly hasn’t helped quiet the rumors with his criticisms of Carr and some recent comments from Gruden have fueled even more speculation.
In a conference call on Wednesday, Gruden described what he wants from his quarterback and it didn’t sound a whole lot what Carr has been showing the last two seasons.
“I’m getting old now. I wanna let it fly,” said Gruden, via Vincent Bonsignore. “I want to let the ball fly. I want big plays. I want excitement. These bubble screens and check-downs only go so far with me. I want to be aggressive and I want to try to make some big plays. Especially if you’ve got the offensive line and supporting cast to back it up.”
What have the Raiders not done a lot of? Get big plays and throw deep passes. What have they done a lot of? Throw check-downs and bubble screens. Now, it’s unclear if that is because of Carr’s inability to make big plays or Gruden’s play calling, but it is clear that the coach wants to switch things up.
Jon Gruden Wants Derek Carr to ‘Do Better’
Regardless of who is more at fault, both Carr and Gruden need to be better if either is going to succeed. The coach acknowledged as much on Wednesday while praising and criticizing his quarterback.
“He’s done a lot of good things in tough circumstances,” said Gruden. “We don’t see the ball a lot in the second half if you want to do the math on that. We don’t get a lot of possessions. We got to do better, he’s got to do better and I got to do better.”
The offense has frequently looked absolutely anemic in the second halves of games and that has to change in 2020 if the Raiders decide to keep Carr.
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Gruden Isn’t Doing Carr Any Favors
It’s easy to blame Carr for the offense’s faults because he’s the one executing the plays. However, Gruden deserves a healthy dose of criticism for the fact that Carr hasn’t been making more big plays. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur brought up an excellent point about the team’s offense:
If Gruden wants Carr to take more chances, line up Darren Waller or Marcell Ateman out wide and tell Carr to “let it fly.” Carr will do it. He wants to please his coaches — he has since he was a kid — and he especially wants to make this work with Gruden, whose manic energy cracks him up and has inspired him.
Tafur also went onto mention how Gruden’s comments were somewhat antithetical to what he has said in the past:
But Gruden has always stressed checking it down and avoiding interceptions with Carr. Last season, Gruden’s first back with the Raiders, then quarterbacks-coach Brian Callahan said that the staff told Carr that “checking the ball down a few more times a game” can improve his completion percentage from 62 to 70 percent.
Tafur is spot-on. There’s been no indication from any previous Gruden quarterback that he likes to “let the ball fly.” The coach has always favored a strong running game coupled with short passes. Carr has proven in previous seasons that he can throw an effective deep ball. Maybe the coach will give him the chance to prove it over the last two games.