There was certainly no shortage of distractions for quarterback Derek Carr heading into the 2019 NFL season.
He and head coach Jon Gruden endured a rough outing in their first season together. As a result, there was plenty of speculation regarding his long-term future with the Raiders.
The arrival of wide receiver Antonio Brown brought even more unwanted attention that only served to add fuel to the fire in Oakland. Regardless, Carr was always adamant proving his status as the franchise quarterback once again.
According to Michael Silver of NFL.com he admits he was motivated to move past his struggles from the 2018 campaign:
“I was a man on a mission,” Carr said afterward as he stood at his locker. “And that had nothing to do with what went down this past week. That was pent up from last season. I have been ready to go for a while, and I know we have a really good team this year, and I couldn’t wait to get out there. So, not angry, just ready and really focused.
“I’m on a mission. The job is not done.”
Carr managed to do just that by completing 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown in the 24-16 win in Oakland’s season opener against the Denver Broncos on Monday night. More importantly, he was able to further earn the trust of Gruden when it comes to which plays to run during the game.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Carr suggested a screen pass to Gruden on a big third down play. Gruden gave him permission to run it and Carr hit Tyrell Williams for a first down to ice the game:
“Year 2, man,” Carr said. “That’s a conversation that doesn’t happen last year. Last year, I would go over and ask him what he wants to do: ‘What’s the call?’ But we’re on the same page now.”
The Raiders were able to come up with quite the response to all the drama that surrounded them with Brown heading into the season. Although Carr suggests that his brief stint in Oakland did not play a part, there was no denying it only served to provide further motivation for all parties involved.
Of course, Oakland still has a long way to go before they officially usher in a resurgence in the 2019 campaign. Regardless, Carr’s performance has undoubtedly instilled a newfound sense of optimism surrounding the team that they were sorely lacking amidst their struggles last season.
The Raiders now face a much more daunting task in Week 2 as they get set to host the Kansas City Chiefs. A showdown with the reigning AFC West champs will provide Carr with another solid opportunity to make a statement.