Raiders fans shouldn’t get too comfortable with Derek Carr being their quarterback of the future. Jon Gruden is already sounding skeptical.
Throwing three interceptions in your first game under a new head coach isn’t a great first impression for a quarterback. That’s just what Derek Carr did on Monday night to ruin Jon Gruden’s return to the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. It’s pretty clear Gruden is already starting to doubt Carr’s status as the team’s starting quarterback of the present and future.
Given Gruden’s previous decision to deal Khalil Mack for draft picks, it’s obvious no one on the Raiders roster is safe. A lot of people assumed Carr might be the one untouchable player remaining on the roster, but it’s time to rethink that assumption.
Gruden is a very savvy public speaker. He doesn’t say things to the press by accident. Any public comments he makes are carefully planned out and made for a specific reason. That’s why his recent comments about Carr are so interesting.
When asked about what he thought about Carr’s play against the Rams, Gruden continually made reference to his signal caller’s unwillingness to throw the ball down the field. He specifically said that receivers were open deep on multiple occasions but he says Carr didn’t elect to make those throws “for whatever reason.”
It’s logical to think that Gruden and Carr have had an opportunity so speak since the Rams game ended. Presumably, the head coach has enjoyed at least one chance to ask Carr why he didn’t choose to make deep throws on those occasions. The idea that he still has no idea why his quarterback made a different choice is absurd. It’s a clear example of Gruden trying to subtly criticize Carr.
No one should think A.J. McCarron is set to take the field anytime soon, but these comments are a clear sign that Gruden isn’t fully committed to Carr. If things don’t improve relatively quickly, he won’t feel the need to stick with the previous regime’s franchise quarterback. Coaches with a fully guaranteed 10-year contract definitely have the ability to go in a different direction at the game’s most important position.
If Gruden does want to make a seismic change at quarterback, it will happen this summer. Carr is due to make $22.5 million in 2019, but the Raiders can save $15 million if they cut him this summer. It’s easy to see where things are headed here. If Carr plays well and the Raiders are competitive, then Gruden will keep him and press forward. If he struggles and Oakland ends up with a high draft pick in 2019, it’s very likely they’ll axe him and draft a new quarterback to build around.
There’s still plenty of time for Carr to solidify his status with the Raiders, but his stock isn’t very high in Gruden’s eyes at the moment. If that doesn’t change this season, Carr could easily be looking for a new team to lead in 2019.