Opinion: Are the Raiders and Derek Carr still contenders after the MNF loss?  


Josh DeLillo, Staff


Well, it was bound to happen, Raider Nation left SoFi Stadium very disappointed as Vegas was handed their first loss of the season, and it was an ugly one against their division rival. The Raiders started very sluggish, which seems to be a common theme this season, as they let the Chargers have a three touchdown lead at halftime. In the first stretch of the season, they have had to come back from behind to win, which has not been a problem for veteran quarterback Derek Carr. In the matchups against the Ravens and Dolphins, they were down by two touchdowns in the first half and still managed to pull off the victories in overtime thrillers. Even though the Raiders fought back in the second half against Los Angeles, it was too much as the final score was 28-14. This loss in Primetime poses the question, are the Raiders and their field general quarterback still a threat in the AFC?

Ever since Jon Gruden returned to the Raiders back in 2018, there was speculation of whether or not Carr had the mental toughness to deal with his head coach, as Gruden is known to be really tough and demanding of his quarterbacks. Carr has pushed the rumors of him getting traded or replaced by a rookie to the side every offseason since Gruden’s return. He has been playing arguably his best football this season and the numbers back it up. In the season opener against Baltimore, Carr put up 435 yards, two touchdowns, and an 89.5 passer rating. In the next two games against Pittsburgh and Miami, Carr threw just shy of 400 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a passer rating above 100 in both games. Currently, he leads the league in passing yards, which shatters the dink-and-doink narrative that was falsely placed on him a few seasons ago. 

Carr can thank his receiver core for his solid numbers this year as Ruggs, Renfrow, Edwards and the versatile tight end Darren Waller all had above 200 receiving yards entering the game Monday night. Carr has one of the most accurate deep balls in the league, which has been compared to the likes of Aaron Rodgers while stretching the field vertically without putting too much power on his passes. Al Davis was a huge fan of the deep ball and would have loved to see Carr launch the ball under the lights of Las Vegas. It is without a doubt that Carr has a better supporting cast on both sides of the ball this year, which has been in high demand. Many members of Raider Nation knew Carr had the talents, just needed some help on the defensive side of the ball, and that was evident as Carr has the most 4th quarter and overtime comebacks by any quarterback as of 2015. Even though Monday’s loss was a heartbreak for the Silver and Black, the defense and their pass rush have been consistent which is something to look forward to in their next match-up.  ​​

The Raiders will be looking to bounce back at home in Allegiant Stadium after the heartbreaking loss Monday night. Carr’s firepower on offense and his rebuilt offensive line will have a tough task ahead of them as they face off against former teammate Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears. It is in Gruden’s game plan to have a quick start on Sunday. “I have to be better at play-calling in the beginning moments of the game,” Gruden admitted after the loss Monday night. If they want to be contenders in the AFC, the Raiders will need to step up in running the football in order to control the pace of the game, which has been lackluster so far this season and a staple of Gruden’s offense. The depth of this new Raiders’ defense will also be tested in the short week, with loads of injuries in the secondary after Monday’s game. It is definitely going to be another week of adversity for Raider Nation, heading into the second stretch of the season, but they will be looking to grab another win after the gut-punch loss in primetime.

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