If you were to ask Derek Carr what his goals were for 2018, you’d undoubtedly get the corniest, most humble answers of all time. Carr would tell you that he wants to compete, that he wants to do the best he can on the field, and that he’d like to win a championship. This humble but competitive attitude that we love about the young field general. However, just because he’s humble, that doesn’t mean we have to be. Here are a few goals that number four should attempt to achieve in 2018.
Derek Carr’s Individual Goals for 2018
Derek Carr has accomplished a lot in his short time with the silver and black. He’s already top four in just about every passing category in Raiders history. This year, it’s very likely that he will pass Daryle Lamonica and Rich Gannon in passing yards. One thing that Carr hasn’t done yet? He hasn’t passed for four thousand yards in a season.
Passing for 4,000 yards is a bit of a landmark for quarterbacks. A good running back or receiver has 1,000 yards, great pass rushers get double digit sacks, and franchise quarterbacks pass for 4,000 yards. However, heading into year five, this is something that Carr just hasn’t accomplished yet.
This is a little bit of a skewed statistic, because it’s not entirely Carr’s fault. In 2015, he fell 13 yards short of 4,000 yards, and you’ve got to think he would’ve easily passed that if he hadn’t gotten hurt against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one. He injured his hand early, and though he was back the next week, he didn’t break 4,000 in 2015.
The following season, Carr was 63 yards short, but injuries prevented him from breaking 4,000 yet again. The broken fibula that cut his MVP-calibre season short and hung around for an extra season robbed Carr from a game and a half in 2016. Carr definitely would’ve gotten at least 63 yards if he’d been able to finish the game against the Colts, or play at all the following week against the Denver Broncos.
The Raider Nation is sick of hearing about 2017, and I don’t blame them, so we’ll make it quick. Carr had the fewest passing yards since his rookie season last year, and ended up 504 yards short of 4,000. He was hindered by injuries just about everywhere. He was recovering, if mentally, from his broken fibula, and then he suffered a back injury against the Denver Broncos that sidelined him for a game and a half. Throw in receivers that couldn’t catch and the coaching of Todd Downing, who may have actually been three kids in a trench coat, and last year was a disaster.
With Jon Gruden at the helm, the offense will probably be more quarterback-friendly, and Carr should be able to achieve this goal. After a down season, enjoying a career high in passing yards would go a long way in proving his doubters would wrong.
This goal is completely out of Carr’s control, but it’s crucial to his success. At points during 2017, Carr looked very uncomfortable in the pocket, and while that might have been because he didn’t trust the offense, it may have also been because he hadn’t come back from his injury, mentally. Carr has injured his hand twice, his back, and his leg over the last three seasons, and it would go a long way if he could stay healthy for the entire season.
If Carr can stay healthy, only good things can happen. He’ll be more confident in the pocket, and everyone can agree that a more confident Carr is a better Carr. Not to mention the obvious, that a healthy Carr means that the Raiders will always have their best quarterback on the field. It helps with his statistics as well, for what that’s worth.
“Become a CEO-type Quarterback”
One of the biggest reasons that Jon Gruden returned to the Oakland Raiders was the opportunity to play with a young, talented quarterback. Gruden raved about Carr, praising his athleticism, passion, and leadership ability, but he did want to see an improvement from number four. The man they call “Chucky” wants to “put more on Carr’s plate” and force him to take more responsibility in the offense.
This is a great thing. Carr has all the potential in the world, and with an offensive guru like Gruden holding him accountable, the sky is the limit. Gruden has said he wants Carr to be more involved at the line of scrimmage and take control of Oakland’s offense, becoming a CEO-type quarterback like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers. How can he do that? There are a couple of easy ways.
Use His Legs
Believe it or not, Carr is actually a pretty good athlete. Derek Carr ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and a 4.2 flat shuttle time at the combine in 2014. There were points in 2016, like that awesome highlight against the New Orleans Saints where he took off and flipped for the first down, where he used this athleticism, but we rarely saw it in 2017. Maybe it was because of his injury, but he didn’t use his legs as weapons until late in the season. Don’t let the goal-line fumble against the Dallas Cowboys ruin the idea of Carr as a quarterback who uses his athleticism to extend plays ala Rodgers or Russell Wilson.
Throw It Deep
One of Carr’s biggest strengths is his ability to throw the deep ball. There’s a cannon attached to his right shoulder and when he really gets a chance to rip it, few do it better. Remember that pass he threw to T.Y. Hilton in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago? It was a meaningless scrimmage game and Hilton dropped it, but Carr was able to drop a dime 50 yards down the field on the run. This year, Carr completed 62% of his passes, but many of those passes were short, quick passes with no hope. A return to an aggressive vertical offense would be beneficial for the silver and black in 2018.
Don’t Back Down
If memory serves, Gruden was a very vocal head coach on the sideline, and in 2017, Jack Del Rio was the opposite. When Carr would make a bad play or the offense had a bad drive, Del Rio looked morose or disappointed on the sideline. Gruden isn’t going to take that, he’ll be barking at Carr the minute the wrong team catches the ball. The best quarterbacks in history weren’t afraid to bark back at their quarterback, it’ll be interesting to see how Carr reacts to throwing an interception and coming over to a sneering, furious Gruden.