The Oakland Raiders once had a borderline MVP in Derek Carr. Now, they have a broken man who can’t breathe in the pocket before being smashed.
It’s over for Derek Carr in Oakland.
The aforementioned statement is a fact that becomes more apparent by the week, as the Raiders’ high-priced offensive line allows a tidal wave to come in on Carr, with little help or support coming from Jon Gruden.
On Sunday, Carr was sacked four times, making the total 17 sacks and 31 quarterback hits over the past four games. Not surprisingly, the Raiders have lost those games against the Seahawks, Colts, 49ers and Chargers by a combined score of 123-40.
All of this coming behind an offensive line that includes a pair of guards being paid $21 million in Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele. Over at left tackle, rookie Kolton Miller is also being beaten repeatedly.
Miller is the initial first-round pick of Gruden, handpicked to be a cornerstone for the future that he keeps talking speaking of, but not showing any evidence of.
Undoubtedly, Raiders fans have to hope Miller improve rapidly. They also have to hope Gruden hits on his five first-round picks over the next two years, especially considering one of them might have to be wasted replacing Carr, instead of taking a defensive stud or an offensive weapon.
In that regard, Gruden’s plan is already fraying at the seams, compounded by the fact he’s already trying to replace a generational pass-rusher in Khalil Mack.
As the beatings have become regular and more intense, Carr has predictably thrown quicker and shorter. The former Fresno State star who once looked long for Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree now dumps off passes in a panic to Seth Roberts and Jalen Richard, hoping they can make something happen in the open field.
This was perfectly illustrated against the Seahawks during a 27-3 loss in London. Carr’s completed passes averaged an impossible 0.1 yards per attempt in the air, with his NFL Next Gen passing chart laying out how bad it’s become.
On Sunday, Carr attempted 37 passes and consistently threw short while under heavy duress. As noted in the tweet by FanSided contributor Marcus Mosher, only four passes and two completions went more than 10 yards in the air.
One of those throws was an intentional incompletion into the dirt on 4th and 5 with Oakland trailing late in the fourth quarter. On a screen, Carr saw the coverage and chucked the ball into the ground, accepting his team’s fate with shocking ease.
Carr was once the darling of a team that seems to be harkening back to the days of Ken Stabler, Cliff Branch and a swashbuckling band of Raiders that made them American villains decades ago. Under head coach Jack Del Rio, Oakland once again had the Black Hole grinning with bad intentions, while Carr appeared to be the next great quarterback in a city starved for one.
Instead, things fell flat. Carr broke his leg. Del Rio went 6-10 the following year, and Gruden was brought in to fix it all, the white knight charging in off the hilltop.
It’s all come crumbling down, going straight to hell before heading to Vegas.
While Carr is under contract for another four seasons, it’s impossible to believe this partnership remains tenable beyond Week 17. Gruden has shown no inclination to build with the roster headed to him back in January, and Carr appears both broken and declining on a team with little hope over the duration of his deal.
The problem is who to move onto? Oakland might have the top pick in the upcoming draft, but many pundits believe there are no first-round quarterbacks coming out, save perhaps for junior Justin Herbert out of Oregon. If Herbert stays at school, or simply isn’t graded out high enough to be a No. 1 overall choice, then what?
Do the Raiders ride out another season of Carr? Do they release him and chase a veteran stopgap such as Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tyrod Taylor? None of the options are good, but all of them are worthy of conjecture.
It’s been a messy, ugly and painful year in Oakland. Nobody knows that better than Carr, who must wonder what has happened to his career every time he’s flat on his back, staring into the abyss.