A Look at Every Throw: Did Derek Carr Hold Back the Raiders Offense on Sunday?

It was a disastrous offensive showing by the Raiders on Sunday and, understandably, there are big concerns going into week four.

One of the popular narratives in the 48 hours since the “Minnesota Massacre” is that Derek Carr has become a quarterback that won’t attack defenses downfield. With the help of All-22 film, it only made sense to see exactly what Carr was seeing and doing on Sunday.

Was he too conservative or is there another explanation for the dinks and dunks? If Carr is missing throws downfield, the bad reads won’t be able to hide on film.

So let’s take a look at the first half and find out why the wheels fell off so early. Here we’ll see every throw by Derek at about the moment he throws the ball. Let’s see what the quarterback saw and find out how many free runners he really missed downfield.

2nd and 9

A play-action rollout by Carr ends up in the hands of Foster Moreau for a one-yard gain. Moreau was the first and only option on this play. Minnesota played it well and didn’t bite on the play action. Maybe because it was 2nd and nine?

3rd and 8

Carr steps up in the pocket and has only three targets. Even worse, all are on the left side of the field and none are open. Incomplete.

2nd and 7

Quick throw to J.J. Nelson at the bottom of the screen for 2 yards. Seeing Trent Brown cut block the defensive end tells us the call for a quick throw to Nelson came straight from the huddle.

3rd and 5

Carr narrowly missed being sacked right away when Kolton Miller barely gets a hand on the defensive end (below).

Carr eluded the rush and scrambled. He might have had Tyrell Williams at the bottom of the screen (two frames above) but the corner is closing. Carr slides at the line of scrimmage and Minnesota is credited with a sack.

1st and 10 

Now down 14-0, this drive started with a designed throw to J.J. Nelson at the top of the screen. The result was a four-yard gain.

2nd and 6 

The interception that felt like it put the game away. Four short routes and they are all covered. Not one option downfield. Perfect defense and not a good throw. Below is what Derek saw when he threw the interception. There’s a window, but it’s tiny. Waller might have come open on the left side, but he is accounted for.

Now down 21, Gruden seems to open up the offense a little. A few less jumbo sets and more three wide receiver sets. Great adjustment and the positive results didn’t take long to show up.

2nd and 4

Protection breaks down immediately from Carr’s blind side. Here’s what Derek is looking at as he gets smashed (below).

Good times.

But the offense starts breathing a little on the next play.

Well designed screen for Darren Waller goes for 30 yards. And this is when Gruden started to spread out the Minnesota defense with extra wide receivers.

1st and 10

A couple of vertical routes and Carr gets Waller with single coverage at the top of the screen for an easy nine-yard throw.

3rd and 2

Great check down from Carr to Jalen Richard at the bottom of the screen. Ironically, former Raiders OC Bill Musgrave used a similar concept to give Carr checks in 2016. Why does this short throw make nine yards looks so easy? Because it was accompanied by vertical routes and the pass protection held up for a quick second.

Finally, Gruden schemed a free-running receiver and the result was six points. J.J. Nelson looked like one of Bill Belichick’s receivers with open real estate all around.

3rd and 2

This drive started on the nine yard-line and stayed alive here with a short throw to Hunter Renfrow at the bottom of the screen. No other options on this play with only three receivers running routes. Renfrow gained five yards and picked up the first down.

2nd and 10

Carr hits Waller over the middle for an 11-yard gain. No one else was open, but what stands out about this play is there are six routes being run. The defense is spread all over the field and Waller isn’t accounted for. There simply aren’t enough defensive bodies to cover six targets and Carr gets rid of the ball too quickly for the pass rush to have an impact on the play.

These are the plays where Carr seems to thrive. He likes to get rid of the ball quickly and he’s excellent at finding the uncovered receiver as long as there is one. Had there been only three routes been run on this play, would Waller have been so wide open? Probably not.

1st and 10

Throwing on first down again, Williams got lost in the yellow of the Viking mustache for a 15-yard gain. Were it not the the deep route at the top of the screen, the safety could have collapsed much sooner, but when you stretch the field it opens things up. Had the safety gotten sucked in, Carr had an easy touchdown over the top. That’s what effective offenses in the modern era do – they force safeties to make tough decisions.

1st and 10

There is too much going on here for one screenshot. Renfrow is coming open in the middle of the field, but Carr is getting gobbled up by the pass rush and is fortunate to end up throwing the ball away.

2nd and 10 

Carr has two options here at the top of the screen. The safer throw is underneath to Waller, but there is a window where he could have tried to fit one in behind the corner to Nelson. Waller got four yards here, but Nelson would have picked up 15. Who knows what Gruden would prefer Derek to do here… the riskier throw to Nelson or the sure underneath throw to Waller?

3rd and 6

Other than the interception, this might have been the biggest miss of the game for the Raider offense. Carr and Waller couldn’t connect for a big gain on a throw that was just a little high for Waller to hold on to. On the surface it looked like an overthrown ball, but if you look at the screen shot above, Waller should have taken his route more vertical and there is every reason to believe that’s what Carr was expecting. Had he not leveled off the route, Waller most likely would have scored on the play.

Certainly a handful of screenshots don’t tell the whole story, but there is enough evidence in them to see that Carr wasn’t missing many opportunities downfield on Sunday – and plenty of the short throws were by design. If anything, Gruden’s gameplan could have used a little critiquing against the Vikings. Maybe this week it will be in his best interest to spread out the defense a little and take a step back from all the jumbo formations.

Just a thought.

twitter: @raidersbeat


26 thoughts on “A Look at Every Throw: Did Derek Carr Hold Back the Raiders Offense on Sunday?

  1. Maybe it’s time to cut the salary or find another quarterback. Strange the same thing happened in Houston with his brother. Something has to change or we will never see a winning season again. I believe in the motto Al Davis created “JUST WIN BABY” but now winning one or two games a season sucks.

    1. If you think cutting the QB is the answer then you didnt read the article. The issue is Grudens play-calling and lack of creativity and down-field options.

  2. Carr is not the raider QB of the future Gruden knows this as well they need to move on to another QB that can lead and win. Carr .

  3. Gruden and Carroll need to pull there heads out of the turf! Look up! Look forward! And get the dam ball moving down field. It can be done and carr has proven it in the past. Wake up boys and let’s win.

  4. Gruden and Carr need to pull there heads out of the turf! Look up! Look forward! And get the dam ball moving down field. It can be done and carr has proven it in the past. Wake up boys and let’s win.

  5. Yes it’s time His 1st 3yrs he was on his way to stardom he got paid & now everything is a business decision he stop extending plays he is no longer a play maker he take sacks He terrible it’s time Go Raiders

  6. I don’t care what he saw he can change the plays like he always done and when he does it’s an interception it’s time to move on

  7. Signing carr b4 mack = worst thing to happen to the raiders since the tuck rule. Even the robert gallery and jamarcus russell debacles together were far less disastrous as well as less costly.

  8. Great write up! Film tells the true story.
    Carr is playing well. The scheme is lacking somewhat. Gruden history is he struggles modifying his offensive approach to best fit players skills. Raiders have a good line even as Miller makes mistakes (hopefully he learns). Skill positions are solid thus O should start to put points on the board. As a long time fan we can only wait to see if O gets better every week! What’s tough to watch is when they are overmatched and appear to be out coached.

  9. Wow actual visual evidence of what happened, I appreciate that instead of the constant personal attacks on the qb, that seem to be all over the internet. To me it seems like much of raider nation wants DC to fail, that makes no sense to me, I don’t care who is wearing the silver n black I root for them to have success in that uniform.

  10. DC has always been scared to throw down field…this offense has bored me to death for the longest time with DC as QB….I watch every other team play with their new QBs and they seem to be more exciting to watch and get plays done….I think it is a variety of reasons why this offense sucks, no smart receivers who can get open, the call plays, coach, and of course DC….DC is a great guy but its about if u can make plays, and I’m not talking about ur cheap as 1-5 yard pass plays hoping they can break loose

  11. They let go of Cooper which was a huge mistake. Carr never had time to look down field to throw the ball to him. Gruden didn’t think he was productive enough. Let go of Mack biggest mistake Gruden ever made. So Gruden is 60% to blame for where the Raiders are at the present. Now the other 40% falls either on the offensive coordinator or Carr. You all decide. Bottom line offense can’t protect, defense can’t put pressure on the opponents quarterback. Another long season.

  12. The last thing I want to see with Derek Carr is what happened with Carson Palmer – the Raiders dump the guy off to another team so we can all sit back and watch him light it up in another uniform. After Palmer was traded to Arizona for a SIXTH ROUND PICK to a team that realized his talent and had quality weapons around him, he threw for 4,000 yards three times, led the Cardinals into the playoffs, made the Pro Bowl and was the runner up for the NFL’s MVP award in 2015. Carr would do the same thing. Losing Antonio Brown one week before the season started was a devastating blow for the offense. Like last year, Carr will have to plow through yet another season without a true #1 wide receiver, which would explain the increased catches for tight end Darren Waller. We’ve seen this movie before; when your #1 wideout is a 33-year old Jordy Nelson in the last year of his NFL career, your TE is going to see a lot more targets. Hence, the season Jared Cook had last year. DRAFT DEREK CARR A #1 WIDE RECEIVER!!!!!!

  13. Its all about schemes thats what the coaches are expected to do is to put your players in the best position to succeed. Where are all the motions and moving pockets in order to make the defense show you how they react so you can have a play ready to expose what the defense is doing. If Gruden and staff does not get this offense going its going to be another long season.

  14. No more excuses. Carr doesn’t look like he cares about winning. I like him as a person but he’s not the QB I thought he was. It’s time to move on.

  15. What your analysis neglects to mention is Derek Carr consistently locking in on one receiver as well as the fact that his lack of pocket presence forces him into a nasty habit which he’s had since his college days, happy feet. He’s constantly shuffling his feet and hardly ever resets after he feels the first bit of pressure. There is no way he’ll ever be in the the top 10 at the QB position unless and until he fixes those two major flaws.

    Moreover, the INT he threw was on a play which he called himself.

  16. Well thought out analysis here. Maybe some more creative offensive plays or better play from the QB but bottom line it’s not working as is. Other QB’s are in Similar circumstances but they always seem to manage to make the play. So maybe it’s time for a change at the helm.

  17. Finally! Some actual analysis of what actually was going on with the passing offense that game. Good job!

  18. Awesome analysis. Thanks for doing this!

    I see a lot of deep zone coverage with max protect and few routes being run. That means either Gruden feared the pass rush and wanted extra blocking help or the Vikings had no fear of the running game and were keeping everything in front of them.

    The answer here is run the ball effectively early and often. Then mix in the stretch routes you talked about and the deep guys will be open or the underneath dump offs will have plenty of running room. From what I see in those pics, Minnesota played as if they were going against a one dimensional offense — which the score dictated — and Gruden and/or Carr with audibles didn’t take enough advantage to keep them honest.

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