Whether it’s fair or not, Derek Carr has been blamed for a lot of the Las Vegas Raiders‘ struggles over recent years. He was able to get the team to the playoffs in 2016 but has led the team to three straight losing seasons. His stats haven’t been terrible and he’s been able to stay relatively healthy, but he just hasn’t been able to get the team to the next level consistently.
Despite the losing career record, Carr finds himself in rare company as he’s one of only two players in NFL history to have a season where he completed 70% of his passes, threw for 4,000 yards and less than 10 interceptions. Erik Harris, a safety for the Raiders, took notice of this stat and told people that the defense to blame for the team’s struggles.
The Raiders were just named worst defense of the decade by ESPN. That’s obviously not Carr’s fault. Though there have been plenty of times he could do more to help the team win, the defense needs to be better if the Raiders hope to win more games.
Raiders Defense Should Be Improved in 2020
Fortunately, the Raiders showed a willingness to invest heavily in the defense this offseason. They added two very good linebackers, which should hopefully fix their biggest issue on defense. The defensive line has a lot of promising young players and Rod Marinelli should be able to bring out the best in them. If both Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell improve this season, the Raiders have a good defensive line.
The biggest worry is the secondary. The team is very young at cornerback. Trayvon Mullen was solid as a rookie and the team is going to rely heavily on him this season. Damon Arnette has a lot of experience for a rookie, but the lack of offseason workouts could slow his development. Johnathan Abram should be starting at one of the safety spots and only has one NFL game under his belt. The Raiders are risking a lot as there are some really good wide receivers in the AFC West. The risk could pay off but it could also blow up in their face. Regardless, the defense should be better as a whole than it was in 2019.
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What to Expect From Carr This Season
Carr has put up some good stats over the years, but he hasn’t won a lot of games. Until he can get the Raiders back to the playoffs, people are going question him. He’s surrounded with talent heading into 2020. He’s got an elite offensive line, a first-round pick wide receiver in Henry Ruggs and two potential Pro Bowls in Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs.
The Raiders have all the pieces to field an elite offense. Carr has a great arm and he needs to start using it. Jon Gruden has always been a conservative play-caller, but it’s time for the team to get more creative. They have all the tools, they just need to utilize them.