Derek Carr hardly fits the label of a running quarterback, but Jon Gruden wants to see him use his legs more.
When we think of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL currently, names like Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Mitchell Trubisky come to mind. Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr does not fit the profile, with 413 yards on 148 carries in five seasons. But don’t tell that to head coach Jon Gruden.
Carr took the third-most sacks in the league last year (51), which can be easy to blame on the offensive line. But Carr has put the onus on himself, and expects to be a faster decision maker in his second season running Gruden’s complicated offense.
During the early days of Raiders training camp practices, Gruden has told defensive backs to jump routes. The idea is to force Carr to consider running, however impractical it may seem on the surface. Said Gruden, “Derek is a lot more athletic than people think. Hopefully we can get some more scramble, second-reaction offense.”
Carr’s underlying numbers tell a conflicting story.
The “second reaction offense” Gruden seems to be seeking doesn’t fit his own history, and a scrambling quarterback really doesn’t fit Gruden’s offense and, more importantly, Carr’s skills.
A knock on Carr coming out of Fresno State was a tendency to drop his eyes and effectively go into “fetal position” when under pressure. Deeper film review of his five NFL seasons may or may not tell the same story consistently, but it’s clear he was a conservative passer last year as he probably tried to avoid Gruden’s ire.
After some speculation about Carr’s future during the offseason, the Raiders can fairly easily move on from him after the 2019 season. According to Over The Cap, the team can clear $16.5 million in cap space while absorbing just $5 million in dead money if they trade or cut Carr before June 1, 2020. After June 1 — not that they’d wait that long — the cleared cap becomes $19 million with $2.5 million in dead money.
It’s a stretch to say Gruden is setting Carr up to fail by suggesting he’d like to see his quarterback use his legs more. But a new patently unrealistic bar, at least based on what Carr has shown thus far in his career, has quite possibly been set.