A Raiders expert breaks down COVID concerns, a burgeoning secondary, and how Derek Carr has erased all doubts in 2020.
Derek Carr couldn’t afford to sit on the fence anymore—not for another full season as the Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback.
For years, the Raiders had committed to Carr as other franchises in the AFC West turned the page on their own starting quarterbacks, for better or worse. All the while, it was never really clear whether Carr would get the job done for the long-term. From questionable coaches to a lack of talent around him, Carr always came up with incomplete or inconsistent evaluations, for one year after another.
Back to 2020. Knowing the Chiefs’ stranglehold on the division, it was going to be impossible for Jon Gruden and company to move forward with Carr with so much other young talent around him if he was not ready to take the leap. Fortunately, the Raiders aren’t planning on changing the franchise face anytime soon. Nine games into the 2020 season and Carr is putting up his best numbers in 4-5 years.
It’s easy to forget that Carr was once a Pro Bowl quarterback who looked like a future star. While he might not ever reach the heights that were projected for him back in 2015, he is erasing doubts about his ability to be the one to take the Raiders forward.
We recently asked a Raiders expert, Brad Weiss from our sister site Just Blog Baby, to tell us more about Carr’s season so far and the Raiders’ level of confidence coming into their game against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.
The Raiders left Arrowhead victorious just a few weeks ago. How confident are they coming into this game?
The Raiders come into this game on a three-game win streak, and they have already beaten Kansas City once this season. Derek Carr has been playing with a ton of confidence, and the young guys on this team are looking to change the overall narrative of the franchise. In terms of confidence, they are expecting to win on Sunday night, though that will prove tough with most of the starting defense on the COVID list all week. In addition, the offensive line is a bit banged up, so while the confidence is high in the building, it is hard to look at this game and be confident as an fan.
Do you think Derek Carr has put to rest any doubts that he’s not the guy going forward for Gruden?
I do. Gruden stated yesterday that he absolutely loves Derek and is so happy he is his quarterback. Carr has done everything Gruden has asked him to this season, including making plays with his feet. He looks like a top quarterback in this league, and is playing with a ton of confidence, and I believe their relationship has always been a bit overblown by the media. Carr is going to be the Raiders QB moving forward, and he has put his stamp on this team this season.
What specifically is coming together for this Raiders roster during the last few weeks?
The defense has played a lot better, and that has been the main difference. The Raiders offense has been solid all season long, but the defense was atrocious. Younger guys have stepped up on that side of the ball, including Johnathan Abram, who is an absolute monster at safety. In addition, Nicholas Morrow has played very well, which has masked the fact that Cory Littleton has been a bust so far. If they can continue to get stops, and forced turnovers, which they had five last week, the offense can put up points with anybody.
What’s going to be this team’s Achilles heel?
The Chiefs have this guy named Patrick Mahomes, and anytime you play him, that is the opponent’s Achilles heel. As a Raiders fan, the fact that he is in the division for the next ten years is depressing, but Las Vegas was able to pressure him into some mistakes the last time out. If they can do that again, they should be able to possibly win as the underdog this weekend, but that is a big if. If Mahomes has time, the Raiders young secondary will have issues throughout.
Any final predictions for Sunday?
I actually like this one to be a lot closer than the spread, and think it comes down to a field goal. Las Vegas is playing at a high level right now, but KC is coming off the bye, a spot where Andy Reid dominates. At home, with momentum, I actually like the Raiders to pull out the victory against the Chiefs, winning 30-27 on a late Daniel Carlson field goal.