Coming off the end of the 2016 season, the Raiders had an incredibly bright future and Derek Carr looked like one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL. 2017 started off with a bang as the team started off with two dominant wins and it looked like the silver and black had a real shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in Week 3 of the 2017 season and the team has yet to fully recover.
The collapse led to Jack Del Rio getting fired just a year after getting a big extension and paved the way for Jon Gruden to take over. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Raiders failing to live up to their potential, but former starting linebacker for the team Malcolm Smith believes he knows why. Responding to a comment on Instagram asking him what happened to the team after the 2016 season, Smith gave some revealing insight:
I left haha. Sometimes you need glue guys who can keep a locker room unselfish and moving toward the same thing. Firing Musgrave was a poor move. Jack had poor and un collaborative relationships with his coordinators.
The move to let offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave go is a major black mark on Del Rio’s career. Todd Downing was a complete flop and Carr has never looked the same since. It’s interesting that Smith pointed out that Del Rio didn’t have “collaborative relationships” with the coordinators. It seems like the failure of the head coach was the downfall of the Raiders’ best season in almost two decades.
Smith Praises Derek Carr
Derek Carr once looked like he was destined to be an NFL MVP one day, but he hasn’t looked nearly as good over the last three seasons. Many put the blame on the quarterback for not living up to his potential. However, responding to a question about Carr, Smith defended his former teammate:
I think there are a lot of other things to address that can make the team better before you can move on from Derek. Derek played at an mvp level throwing the ball in the past. He’s kept a bad organization competitive since he started. As things get better and more consistent around him I think he’ll have more success. That’s what happened in 2016. There’s a reason why Tom passed on the Raiders. There’s a lot of things that need to go right for your team to be successful(scheme,leadership,$$,ego). Keep drafting and signing winners. Add to the pass rush and secondary and oline and Wr .it’s one thing to be competitive but to create problems for other teams is how you win. And you always need a good backup qb.
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Will Derek Carr Return to Form in 2020?
Carr was supposed to turn things around in 2019 thanks to the additions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. Brown never ended up playing a game with the team and Williams was hampered by injuries for most of the season. Carr put up good, but not great numbers. He has appeared to survive this offseason and should be the starter in Week 1 for the Raiders.
If the team can give him a top wide receiver in the draft, he could start to play more like he did in 2016. Carr already has Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller to work with. Giving him a true number one receiver should take the offense over the top. The quarterback should have all the tools to succeed in 2020 and if he doesn’t put stronger numbers, he probably won’t make it to 2021.