Derek Carr gets new toys to play with on Raiders' offense
Past performances suggest this could be a big season for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
Sure, the Raiders are coming off back-to-back losing seasons as they head to training camp in Napa beginning this weekend.
And, sure, Carr is coming off a subpar 19-touchdown, 51-sack season.
But Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden brought in offensive help, adding wide receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams and guard Trent Brown. Then the Raiders drafted running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th overall pick.
Carr said he immediately started imagining what could be — just like he did in 2015 when the Raiders added receiver Michael Crabtree from the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree produced consecutive seasons of 922 yards and 1,003 yards and fellow receiver Amari Cooper had his two best yardage seasons of his career with 1,070 and 1,153.
“When ‘Crab’ came in, I looked back at his 49ers stuff,” Carr said in June. “What were the things he liked? What are the things he did at the top of routes? What are the things so that I can start visualizing. I’m big in visualization.”
Carr said he started visualizing the possibilities again when the Raiders traded for Brown in March from the Steelers.
What he saw: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with open receivers on 293 of 333 passes for 3,290 yards and 20 touchdowns against zero interceptions on accurate ball placement, according to Pro Football Focus. Brown benefited with seven touchdowns.
Brown has hit the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past six seasons. While his new receiving teammate, Williams, finished with 653 yards last season with the Chargers, he had 1,059 yards in 2016.
Carr topped PFF’s 20-yard-plus range in 2018, completing 52.3% of those passes. Brown and Williams give Carr two deep threats.
Last season, he had one legitimate deep threat in Cooper — and the Raiders traded him midseason to the Dallas Cowboys.
Short-range targets were Carr’s main go-tos in 2018: tight end Jared Cook (now with the New Orleans Saints) had 896 yards and six touchdowns, receiver Jordy Nelson had 739 yards and running back Jalen Richard had a career-best 607 receiving yards.
So how excited is Carr in his sixth season about having Brown and Williams as his receivers?
“Watching these guys run these routes and watching how they break, you definitely take a look at it, especially with ‘AB,’” Carr said. “The success that he and Ben had, you’d be silly not to see what they did. I’d be a fool to say, ‘Ah, no, let’s do it our way.’ No, let me see what you all did good, because we can do the same things here, you’re just wearing a different color.”