Derek Carr key to Raiders’ success


Sports writer Jason Spies. Photo credit: Nick Martinez-Esquibel

The Oakland Raiders haven’t had a winning season since 2002. During that 14-year stretch of inconsistency in all facets of the organization, from management, coaches and quarterbacks, one thing has finally changed. The Raiders have found that ever-elusive franchise quarterback and he is bringing a culture change to the organization.

Derek Carr was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft from Fresno State. Coming into his rookie season Carr was not named the starter but proved during the preseason that he had what it takes to win in this league. Carr threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns in less than a full quarter of playing time.

Dennis Allen, head coach at the time, decided to start the rookie over veteran Matt Schaub in their season opener against the New York Jets.

It was a tough season for Carr and the Raiders as they won only three games all year but showed glimpses of promise throughout. One thing that stood out above all was the play of their rookie quarterback.

Having only one receiver who had any experience proved fatal as many of the young receivers were inconsistent and had a lot of dropped passes and mistimed routes.

As a rookie he showed he could be a leader on the field and in the locker room, and was named team captain.

In his second season Carr exploded, throwing for almost 4,000 yards with 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 91.1. Halfway through the season the Oakland Raiders were in prime position to take the AFC Wildcard playoff spot.

It was at this point the young Raiders team faltered. Call it overconfidence, rookie wall or any other euphemism, but they just couldn’t hold on and ended the season 7-9 missing the playoffs yet again.

Whether it was from other teams, announcers, coaches, fans or haters, one of the main differences that the NFL talked about was how much the Raiders have improved.

It was a welcome site when I, as a Raiders fan, could turn on the NFL network and hear the commentators giving the silver and black praise for how they played and how they are improving.

Future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson has been preaching it since he came to Oakland that the organization was headed in the right direction and that changes to the team were in motion.

Carr made his first ever pro bowl, along with second year linebacker Khalil Mack and rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper.

The young and talented Raiders have their sights set on the post season and after experiencing a little bit of success, look to build on that going into next season. With a talented young quarterback and a plethora of talent around him, the silver and black look to continue their culture change and get back to the post season.

Jason Spies can be reached at [email protected] or @Jason_Spies on Twitter.