Is Derek Carr Really Entering A Make Or Break Year Under Jon Gruden?

The Raiders are entering a pivotal season as they inch closer to their move to Las Vegas. Owner Mark Davis would love to have momentum entering a new market and no one, other than maybe Jon Gruden, will be shouldering more pressure to win now than Derek Carr.

Carr very well could have won the league MVP award in 2016 if not for a broken ankle, but after two years of roster and a little organizational dysfunction (the team might prefer to call it a time of transition), no player, coach, or executive, has faced more criticism than Carr. The latest round of attacks on Carr came on Monday from The Athletic’s Mike Sando, who behind a string of anonymous quotes, called into question Carr’s toughness.

“[Carr] is sensitive and needs encouragement, and that is not the style he is going to get,” Sando quoted an anonymous coach in his column. “When someone shows disappointment in him, he shrinks. The head coach not coming out and completely endorsing him has to be eating him alive. When there is blame to be placed each week, it falls to the quarterback, and that is going to be a problem, so they had better hope they win or it’s going to be rocky for him.”

It was a strange quote to read about Carr, especially after posting a 93.9 quarterback rating in 2018 behind two rookie tackles and a roster that was mostly gutted by the mid-point in the season.

If you keep score at home, Sando also found an offensive coach a year ago that questioned Carr and suggested his 2016 season was more of a fluke (no one ever likes to include Carr’s strong 2015 season for some reason). Interestingly, if you pay money to access ESPN insider, you can go back and find that Sando has been running negative anonymous quote campaigns against players for years. Certainly if you run among NFL circles, it can’t be hard to find a coach ready to anonymously put opponents on blast. Safe to say that knowing who criticized Carr’s toughness would explain why he chose to do it.

Whatever the case, it is a big year for the Raiders and it is a big year for Carr. The offense has firepower at receiver and running back again and Carr is in his second year of Gruden’s offense. Some are calling it a make or break year for Carr, but don’t underestimate the value of his contract. Carr’s salary will soon fall outside of the top 10 in the league at quarterback and he is under contract for four more seasons. His $19.8 million cap number by the end of his deal will easily rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of allotted cap money at the position. For that reason, it would probably take a real collapse from Carr for Gruden to want to take the Raiders back to ground zero at quarterback.

Narratives change every few minutes in the NFL, so let’s see what Gruden’s offense looks like with a bolstered offensive line (don’t screw it up Tom Cable) and Antonio Brown (the elite receiver that Amari Cooper didn’t want to be) in the mix. But the real storyline this year will probably be the way the roster comes together and builds an identity.

If things go a little sideways at some point, are the right players in the locker room to right the ship?

How well can Gruden manage the personalities on the team?

Which defensive lineman is going to sack the quarterback?

Those are the talking points that probably deserve a little more attention than who the Raiders will have at quarterback two years from now.

twitter: @raidersbeat


5 thoughts on “Is Derek Carr Really Entering A Make Or Break Year Under Jon Gruden?

  1. I mean really can stop already with this mental hunger games some people play. for like 98 percent of football teams every year is make or break so how is this news??? Just go out and play if carr won’t cuss fine I will go out and do what we have seen you do before. That way all these people who said this and that can have a big **** sandwich to eat.

  2. Ok. Carr is a great QB,threw over 4,000 yrds. First time in his career! Around 70% completions,(yes a lot was check down) 19 touches,to 10ints. Still a ratio of 2-1. Three and a half head coaches (Allen,Sparano,Del Rio,and now Gruden). And a revolting door at OC. If we had (Musgrave) as our OC and Gruden as HC. Carr would be in the MVP race. So is it a make,or break season for Carr. That’s on him?! GO RAIDERS!!!!

  3. I don’t understand how anyone could expect big things from Carr last season. The team Gruden put on the field was absolutely horrible, if anyone is to blame, it starts with Jon Gruden. To put Kolton Miller and Branden Parker in at starting left and right tackle was a joke. I am still not sold on Miller, one of the worst performances ever from a left tackle in the NFL, but he was hurt, then he should not have been on the field. Don’t get me started on Parker, that guy is a practice squad player at best at this point. How about drafting the best player available, ever heard of Derwin James? The proof their, is that the first free agent they went after was Trent Brown, which shows they did think the play of the tackles was good. I still think Brown should be playing LT, but we shall see. The TE was their number one receiver and the rb’s were not good. If the O-line sucks again, it does not matter what else you do, the offense will not do well. How about drafting players in the first and second round that are ready to play, not developmental players.

  4. I think Derek will be just fine with the addition of Brown & Williams at WR. I’m hoping Jacob is the real thing, and I can see warren making a big impact. I’m a little concerned about Cable. The D should be much better also. GO RAIDERS GO!!!!

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