Last week the Oakland Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals in a close game. Nothing to boast about considering the Cardinals started a rookie QB who the Raiders basically traded to Arizona for nothing. Still, Oakland’s defense made enough plays to win the game.
Of course, that cost the Raiders in the race for the No. 1 pick. The Cardinals are in the driver seat for the top pick with that loss.
Derek Carr doubled down on the team’s success by saying he wants to continue winning games. Carr said he wants people to be mad at him for ruining the team’s chances at a top pick.
See this wouldn’t be a big deal if the Raiders hadn’t traded two of their best draft pieces. Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack were both trade for first round picks. However, the homegrown talent now has their current team’s in the playoff race. Mack has the Bears looking like a Super Bowl caliber defense. Dallas is back in the playoff picture since acquiring Cooper. That means Oakland’s added draft capital is going to come in the middle to back end of the draft. It’s hard to find impact players that late especially when you consider both Mack and Cooper were top five picks.
Nonetheless, Carr needs to just play good. Forget the wins and losses, Carr just needs to elevate his game and prove us wrong that way. We’ve seen what Carr can do with no talent around him. He’s not that kind of player.
Sure, it’s not all his fault he’ll beat his brothers record for the most losses in their first five seasons. However, he doesn’t not deserve blame either.
The point is, Carr needs great players around him. That’s what the Raiders did in 2016. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they’ll be able to get that talent around him again before his confidence gets ruined on another losing team. The draft is crap shoot and the Raiders would need to hit instantly on all three picks to look like a contender next year. They’ve abandoned too much draft capital over the past few years so they lack talent in many places on the roster.
If Carr really wants to prove people wrong, he better elevate his game. DC is my boi and he would be great on another team with talent. He has the great leadership and talent to thrive somewhere he isn’t the focal point. Carr lacks that ball placement, pocket poise and decision making you want in an elite QB.
That means, Carr must use these next six games to show he’s an elite player and convince Jon Gruden he doesn’t need to draft a QB. Otherwise, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Raiders cash in their very good player for the chance at a great one in the draft.
The key to stopping Lamar Jackson
In other news, it’s looking more like Lamar Jackson will make his second start this week versus the Raiders. Jackson had the most rushing yards for a QB since Colin Kaepeenick. Jackson also showed some throwing ability which shouldn’t be a surprise given his history as a Heisman Trophy winner.
This is probably going to be a real challenge for the Raiders who have already lacked pass rush and discipline across the defensive line. Expect Baltimore to do a lot of misdirection to keep the Raiders defense on their toes. Containing a dual threat player like Jackson means applying pressure but also being discipline when plays breakdown. Players like Arden Key have got to step up.
Key has the length and acceleration to be a real disruptive player. However, he’s gotta work on his awareness. That will be tested this week as the Ravens rely on spread option and play action concepts meant to take advantage of Key’s aggression.
If Key can stay in his lane and react well, he should get some opportunities to make plays versus another rookie. Either Way, the Raiders have their hands full with Jackson in front of his home crowd. He can use one play to ignite his whole team which makes him a true phenom.
Other things to watch versus the Ravens
Seems like the Raiders have played the Ravens every year the past few seasons. Last year’s matchup ended in a narrow win for Baltimore but the Raiders won the previous two season’s close contests. This game should also be close. The Ravens looked like a contender than lost a bunch before Jackson emerged as a new hope.
Now, they’ll play an Oakland team off a nice win and looking like they finally have a bit of an identity. We can’t forget Michael Crabtree playing against his old team. However, most of the team and coaches he new left with the changing of the guard.
Regardless, the Raiders secondary looked improve last week. The Ravens receivers have been hot and cold. That will be a key matchup of inconsistent players.