Derek Carr is going to miss a couple of weeks, and Raiders fans have no need to panic in his absence.
The Oakland Raiders not only lost their second straight game this past Sunday, they also lost star quarterback Derek Carr to a back injury. Rumors swirled Sunday night about the severity of Carr’s injury, and it appears the worst should have been feared.
Oakland will be without its franchise player for 2-6 weeks, and while the deck seems stacked against them, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.
The dropoff from starting quarterback to the backup is typically very significant and the Raiders are no exception. They’ll have to turn to former first-round pick E.J. Manuel which is going to be a major issue. Manuel has some pretty spotty career numbers: 58.3 completion percentage, a 19/16 touchdown to interception ratio, and a putrid 124.4 yards per game.
Normally, the Raiders would at least be able to say they have an excellent pair of wide receivers for Manuel to lean on. That may not be the case, though. Michael Crabtree missed Week 4 with a bruised lung and even though there’s optimism he can play in Week 5, it’s hard to predict an internal injury like this.
Meanwhile, fellow receiver Amari Cooper is in the middle of one of the worst stretches of his young career. Through the first four weeks of the season, Cooper has 12 receptions for just 101 yards and a single touchdown. It’s also taken him a whopping 31 targets to get to those mediocre numbers.
Oakland also doesn’t have the easiest upcoming schedule. Their next five games before their bye week come against Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, a Thursday night game against the Chiefs, then on the road at Buffalo and Miami.
This isn’t exactly a good situation for a backup QB to walk into as far as his receivers making his job any easier.
The key game is this upcoming week against the Ravens. It’s almost a must-win. The Chargers may be 0-4 but they have the talent to beat the Manuel-led Raiders. The Chiefs are the only remaining undefeated team in the league, and traveling east to face a surprising Buffalo squad will be no picnic. Miami looks like that could be a winnable game considering the Dolphins don’t even have a quarterback that cares.
There is a real chance the Raiders go 1-4 during this upcoming Carr-less stretch.
All is not lost, however. The Raiders can win without Derek Carr by copying what the Dallas Cowboys blueprint from last season. That means running the ball down the throat of the opposition and keeping your defense off the field. The Raiders have the highest amount of salary cap dollars spent on their offensive line. They would be best served to run the ball as much as possible. It’s time to treat Marshawn Lynch(he of 3.4 yards per
It’s time to unleash Beast Mode, and open up the offense by first adjusting the backfield approach. Oakland needs to shift its backfield to a 1-2 punch of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, and then use Lynch as a finisher. The offensive line needs to play up to their contracts.
Losing Carr sucks, but the Raiders need to adopt a new identity to protect Manuel and more importantly, win games.
It won’t be easy, but the Raiders have a smart enough coaching staff to pivot in times like these. If the right adjustments can be made, and players currently slumping can bounce back, Oakland might be able to survive this stretch without Carr and keep its season on track.