A Closer Look at What Derek Carr Saw And Executed on One of His 12 Completions to Darren Waller on Monday

Derek Carr has been a lightning rod for criticism over his first six NFL seasons but the Raiders 2-0 start this year is quickly silencing doubters.

Carr has efficiently orchestrated an offense that ranks 4th in points over the first two weeks of the 2020 season. He has completed 73.5% of his passes, connected with 12 different receivers, notched four passing touchdowns, and hasn’t thrown a single interception.

Carr’s command was on display this past weekend in the Raiders resounding upset of the New Orleans Saints. He connected with tight end Darren Waller 12 times for 105 yards (8.8 avg.) and a touchdown, showing off the chemistry the pair had built over the course of last season. Let’s take a look at one of those receptions from the second quarter that was a direct result of that relationship, as well as Carr’s proficiency in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Stick / Tosser

Playing quarterback in the NFL requires an ability to absorb and process information in a very short period of time. In this case the call was a “Stick Through / Tosser” concept with 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2WR).

Here is that route distribution.

Stick / Tosser

As Carr breaks the huddle, he will begin scanning the defense and absorbing the first piece of information he will utilize to determine where his progression will begin. Most NFL defenses put a lot of effort into disguising their coverages, as the Saints do on this play. They are showing a 3-deep shell but will actually be playing a Tampa-2 coverage.

Here is Carr’s pre-snap read and the actual coverage New Orleans will play.


It may not seem like it, but based on this Cover-3 look, Carr already knows that he will likely be throwing the “Stick” route (red in concept diagram) to tight end Darren Waller. His final decision will be based on his post snap read and the action of a single defensive player.

Based on his pre-snap read, can you tell which player that will be?

Carr will be reading the linebacker (Red) directly across from him. He has already determined that he is likely facing zone coverage so he knows that the cornerback (Blue) will most likely leave Waller and drop off into the Flat.

That leaves the linebacker as the biggest threat to drop into the “Hook” area underneath Waller’s route. If he doesn’t drop under Waller, Carr will throw the stick route in the seam. Should the linebacker get into that passing lane, Carr will move on in his progression to the Tosser concept.

As we already know, the linebacker will drop into a deep middle zone which leaves the seam open for Waller. New Orleans will drop a defensive end (boundary 5-technique) to play that “Hook” zone but Darren was too quick off the line for the defender to make any play on the ball. It’s still a perfect example of how quickly Carr had to process the defensive lineman dropping out and the precision required on the throw.

Here is the full play.

We’ve all seen people across social media using still images to pick out “open receivers” but they typically fail to take into account the actual play design that they are critiquing. This play is a perfect example of the details that often go overlooked. We just went through Carr’s entire thought process from the time he broke the huddle, to the second he released the ball. Outside of the initial play call, we never once looked at the actual receivers. It is typically the actions of the defense that determine where that ball goes.

The Raiders are only two games into the season, but the offense has performed well. Their 57.1% 3rd down conversion rate is the best in the NFL. They are currently 3rd in time of possession and 14th in rushing. The passing game is still a work in progress but ranks 15th in the league. It should improve as Carr gels with some of his new targets. Once he does, fans will get plenty of the long bombs they are craving.

Until then, just remember that there are more factors that go into the passing game then simply where a receiver is on the field.

Twitter: @ChrisReed_NFL

Cover Image Credit: Raiders.com


1 thought on “A Closer Look at What Derek Carr Saw And Executed on One of His 12 Completions to Darren Waller on Monday

  1. This is Derek Carr’s third season under Jon Gruden’s offensive scheme and as Chris Reed says “… the passing game is still a work in progress …” So, this is also Nathan Peterman’s second year in Jon Gruden’s offense. While it has seemed to click, Jon Gruden’s offensive strategy, for Derek Carr, we can only hope that Nathan Peterman is “getting it” also. The reason that I refrence Nathan Peterman is because he is the next quarterback up on the roster. We all saw what happened to the Raiders offense, a few years ago, after Derek Carr went down to a leg injury. Conner Cook and Matt McGloin came into the game and “didn’t perform very well.” Last year, the New Orleans Saints had the luxury of having Teddy Bridgewater to replace Drew Brees after Drew Brees was injured and Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 and now has a new contract and a starting job in the NFL, once again. The Las Vegas Raiders, this year, have been fortunate to have multiple adequate replacements for their offensive line. Their advanced planning, with respect to this position, has paid huge dividends only two games into this season. As we all know, injuries are inevitable and just a natural part of this contact sport, in particular. While I won’t mention Nathan Peterman’s negatives, and there are many, I, and all Las Vegas Raiders fans, CAN ONLY HOPE that Nathan Peterman, DeShone Kizer and possibly Marcus Mariota will, if necessary, fair much better that Matt McGloin and Conner Cook did when they were called upon. I still assert that the Las Vegas Raiders should sign Anthony Gordon off of the Seattle Seahawks practice squad, cut Nathan Peterman and acknowledge that neither Nathan Peterman, DeShone Kizer nor Marcus Mariota are the future of this franchise. Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Raiders have the personnel that they have and hopefully will continue to be successful with no injuries to Derek Carr.

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