The Las Vegas Raiders‘ decision to bench Derek Carr didn’t come as a surprise. The writing was on the walls following a three-interception performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a must-win game. However, if the plan is to move on from Carr in the offseason, not allowing him to finish out the season is a slap in the face to a quarterback who has started almost every game for the team for nine-straight years.
The fact of the matter is that Carr has been fighting a losing battle for years. Former head coach Jon Gruden was a fan, which is why he was able to keep his job through the Tom Brady rumors. New head coach Josh McDaniels also liked Carr’s game, which is why he got a contract extension. Unfortunately for Carr, the most important person in the building wasn’t buying into the notion he was the franchise quarterback. Owner Mark Davis has been willing to let his coaches make the decisions on the quarterback but he hasn’t been the biggest fan, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic.
“Owner Mark Davis has in fact been lukewarm on Carr for a while, apparently thinking the quarterback should have overcome all the disastrous draft picks and free-agent signings and all the coaches that Davis has hired and fired since 2014,” Tafur wrote. “When Davis hired general manager Dave Ziegler and McDaniels in January, he let them make the call on continuing on with Carr.”
Raiders Officials Were Not Fans of Carr
Davis wasn’t the only one in the organization who wasn’t sold on Carr. Apparently, there were others who were not speaking fondly of the quarterback during head coach and general manager interviews from this past offseason.
“During that interview process, Ziegler and McDaniels had to be a little taken aback by what they heard about Carr,” Tafur wrote. “Davis turned over the reins of the two-week search to former vice president of player personnel Ken Herock, and Herock, now 81, is not one to mince words. Other GM and coaching candidates were shocked by how despairingly Raiders officials in the interview room spoke of Carr, according to people familiar with the discussions.”
The Raiders have been one of the most poorly run organizations in all of sports for two decades now. It’s easy to understand why with reports like this coming out. Carr hasn’t played well this season but he led the team to the playoffs last season despite chaos within the franchise. There was no reason for team officials to openly be taking shots at him during interviews.
Davis Forced Raiders to Bench Carr?
McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler are going to take most of the heat for benching Carr. The head coach was the one who had to tell the team and the media about the news. Notably, he looked quite uncomfortable when breaking the news at his Wednesday press conference. However, the decision was taken out of his hands, per Tafur.
“Ziegler and McDaniels met for two nights to discuss Carr’s status, and my read is that Tuesday night, they were leaning toward keeping Carr as the starter,” Tafur wrote. “They have, after all, been preaching the importance of winning and are still technically alive for the playoffs (though it’s possible they are eliminated before they take the field Sunday). Carr is a team captain and very respected by teammates in the locker room, and teammates may not think making him a scapegoat is fair or honorable. I think that is when Davis stepped in and decided it was time for a change.”
Davis hasn’t been known to meddle in personnel decisions in the past but he clearly felt like he needed to in this situation. Whether or not it blows up in his face remains to be seen.