Photo via Aric Crabb/Bay Arena News Group
Nachos, profanities, boos, and even a medicine bottle rained down from the stands onto the field at RingCentral Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
It was the Oakland Raiders’ final home game in the beloved stadium and in the city of Oakland before they relocate to Las Vegas for next season.
Fans in Oakland, one last time, filled the coliseum and the Black Hole to cheer on the team they have experienced the lowest of lows and highest of highs without question. In the end, it was the Raiders who ended up quitting on their fans in the Oakland swan song as the Raiders would surrender 17 unanswered points in the second half to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a last-minute touchdown.
One final gut-punch to the Bay Area faithful to close the show.
As I have watched this second half of the 2019 season, it comes down to the lack of awareness and timidity of the quarterback. The “heart and soul of the Raiders”. The franchise guy: Derek Carr.
This one will sting for Raider fans because there is no one that has represented this franchise or the city better than Carr. He’s the perfect guy you would want to be the face of the franchise. You loved him on Hard Knocks and he has addressed past criticisms with his style of play. Unfortunately, he is not the guy that was serious contender for MVP back in 2016 and made Oakland a Super Bowl contender.
Ever since his tragic leg injury that came at the hands of Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Trent Cole on Christmas Eve of ’16, Carr has not had that confidence to take snaps and play with confidence. During that 2016 season, Carr would take snaps from under center instead of shotgun and would scramble and throw the ball with confidence to receivers such as Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Remember how fun those 15 games were that year? It felt like the tides were turning in Oakland and a Super Bowl-winning team was on the horizon. Oh yeah, Khalil Mack was on that team as well….
Fast forward three years later and Oakland is without a game-changer, the QB is underperforming and the Raiders are on their way to Sin City.
From 2017-19, Carr has not been dreadful but he is not the same guy, fundamentally, that we saw in 2016. The stats may say that he has a higher QBR and completion percentage this year than in 2016 but we have to look at the offensive schemes being ran by Oakland for those years.
While not a wide gap, Carr completed more passes of 20-plus yards and 40-plus yards than this season, which shows a complete alteration of schemes in Oakland. The Raiders have tried to be physical in the trenches and have done well in the running game with Josh Jacobs. But if Jacobs struggles, the passing game needed to pick up and it didn’t(Just look at the Jets game). Most of what I have seen from the Raiders this season was a lot of check downs and short passes to safety blankets and breakout tight ends Darren Waller and Foster Moreau. This, simply, is not enough for the Raiders to win games and score in the red zone with a conservative passing game. The secondary is garbage but Carr was able to score and win close ones three years ago. Not anymore.
With the team heading to a gambling city next year, a divided fanbase that has qualms with the Raiders leaving Oakland for a second time, the front office needs to take a gamble to provide some sort of optimism in their first year in Vegas.
How about Teddy Bridgewater or Cam Newton?
Bridgewater proved himself to be a viable starter with the Minnesota Vikings before his near career-ending knee injury and he had a great stint with the New Orleans Saints this season in five starts; winning all five games with a 9-2 TD-INT ratio. The Raiders could get him at a bargain at one or two years to give him a chance to be a full-time starter with a team that is hungry to win.
Vegas could also be a chance for a quarterback to redeem himself and Newton is certainly looking for redemption. He has battled injuries and poor performances for the last few years but the Panthers, as an organization, are in a transition period and have been looking to wipe the slate clean, even at the expense of Riverboat Ron.
It’s a risk the Raiders need to take to show to their new fans that they are willing to risk a lot to win and to show their current fans that they are willing to make the necessary changes to make the franchise fun again.
Whatever happens, the Raiders cannot settle into Las Vegas with Derek Carr as their starting quarterback.