By all accounts, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is a humble, calm yet passionate athlete. Coaches and players remark how humble and open to direction Carr is. Although he is the franchise leader, armed with a huge contract, nothing changed about his demeanor. With all due respect, Derek Carr needs to develop more of an edge, a mean side that produces results.
On Sunday, Carr ran Todd Downing’s offense the way the coordinator drew it up, boring, unimaginative and lacking direction. Granted, his 313 yards stands out, the two interceptions and 6.4 yards per attempt also will grab attention. In that case, Carr checkdown and seems content with dumping the ball off to receivers. Conversely, against the Chiefs, Carr scorched them for over 8 yards per attempt. Under those circumstances, Downing’s called a masterful game, his first and only in Oakland. Yet, he regressed back to the safe, utterly predictable way versus the Bills.
At Fresno State University, Carr graduated in 2013. Hopefully, he took at least one electronics course, so he can casually disable the headset within his helmet. Or, he needs to call his own plays from here on out. Whatever Downing draws up consistently fails and the Raiders lose to lesser teams on a weekly basis.
Speaking of Todd Downing, many document their close friendship while Downing served as quarterbacks coach in Oakland. Carr and Downing have a bond over the faith. While no one should question that aspect, the matter of Downing’s effectiveness and employment are free to discuss. Todd Downing cannot serve as the Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator. Media, fans, coaches, team officials, and surely the players reached this conclusion. Yet, the one player seemingly in Downing’s corner is the most important one in this situation.
Derek Carr needs to march into Jack del Rio’s office and lay out the facts that Downing appears over his head, outmatched and struggling to properly scheme an NFL offense that sat sixth overall in 2016. For the first time in his professional life, Carr needs to have a jerk/selfish moment and throw Downing under the bus. By all means, either demands playcalling privileges or Downing’s outright removal.
Carr also knows that Amari Cooper is the future of this franchise. Yet, Downing’s schemes seem to make the talented wideout vanish. Why not expand his route tree and send him vertical more. No one is saying regular fly routes, but a deep out, a post, etc, anything to prevent corners from camping underneath. Whether Cooper says anything remains to be seen. If you look at his expressions and body language, frustration set in again on Sunday, a constants theme throughout the year. As the undisputed leader of this team, Carr needs to take control and ensure that his star wideout gets meaningful targets.
In reality, Derek Carr may not change his demeanor, but some alteration could rapidly change the fortunes of his team during this down year. The Oakland Raiders are floundering and any sign of life, especially one from an unlikely source could spark the flames of redemption. That and the offense should always rest in Carr’s hands. Ironically, Carr wears the number four in honor of his idol, Brett Favre, who showed no issue with voicing his opinion of the offense. Time to embrace that mindset.