It all started with Derek Carr picking up Jordy Nelson at the airport for his free agency visit. At that point, some speculated Carr and Nelson would link up for the Raiders next immediate pitch-and-catch duo. Here is why you should expect the two to build great chemistry in 2018.
Carr’s similarities to Aaron Rodgers
Carr has always gotten comparisons to Aaron Rodgers for the two’s similarities in athleticism, arm strength, competitiveness, and football IQ. During his rookie year, former Packers and Raiders receiver James Jones first made that comparison. Jones would go on to be Carr’s favorite target that year and Nelson could do the same.
Moreover, Nelson was so important to Rodgers career that the Green Bay Quarterback made an emotional post about him. Some of the Packers moves confused Rodgers and he said he did not understand why the team would cut Nelson to sign Dez Bryant.
The point is, Rodgers still believes Nelson has something to contribute to his team. Now, Nelson will bring that something to the Raiders and Derek Carr will benefit. Nelson should be able to work with Carr since the Raiders QB reminds him of a quarterback that he once knew.
He compared the work he is doing with Carr to the work he did with Rodgers in Green Bay.
“It’s going great,” Nelson said, according to SilverandBlackPride.com. “It’s just communication and getting the reps on the field. It is no different from what Aaron [Rodgers] and I did for 10 years. We’ll continue to grind at it.”
Nelson’s Work ethic
Nelson appears to be all in on the Raiders and Carr too, even if he has nothing to prove. Nelson is healthy and ready to contribute in anyway that he can. He’s also recognizes it will not be easy making the transition to Oakland.
“It’s getting on the same page, understanding the playbook the same way and then getting the reps in on the field if it’s on air, one-on-one, seven-on-seven, team, all of that. It all adds up; just being comfortable with one another”, Nelson said earlier this offseason per the Silver and Black Pride article.
It is clear that Nelson brings the commitment and work ethic that should mesh well with Carr. The two are both workaholics who should easily integrate due to their willingness to do extra work.
The Raiders offensive plan
Head coach Jon Gruden said Nelson should mesh well with the Raiders before OTAs too. Gruden seems to have a plan for Nelson and how he will in Oakland’s offense.
“He can still run,” Gruden, said at the NFL owners meetings. “He’s a guy we can put on the backside of (triple receiver formations). He can win at the line of scrimmage against press coverage. He’s good after the catch.”
Having a plan for a veteran like Nelson should help him and Carr build camaraderie. Nelson’s intangibles will help him secure a major role in the Raiders offense too.
“He brings a lot of ‘it’ factor we need. He’s unselfish. He’ll block. He’s excellent at uncovering in scramble drills. His work ethic and consistency is something that will benefit our football team. He’s one of the free agents who will play a huge role for us.”
Receivers coach Edgar Bennett worked with Nelson in Green Bay and has a working knowledge of Nelson’s on-field play and leadership as well. That should also make it easier gauging what Nelson does well and utilizing that in the Raiders offense.
Moreover, Carr understands this team’s similarities to Green Bay. “It’s really cool,” Carr said. “It’s fun because when I was in college, I would watch Aaron [Rodgers] play all the time. I’d try to have some of the same mannerisms, getting it out quick, stuff like that.”
Nelson is already affecting the Raiders
It is not a surprise that Nelson is already having an impact on the Raiders offense on and off the field. According to NFL Network’s Peter Schrager before OTAs, the veteran has been a “quarterback in the wide receivers room” this offseason.
For instance, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur revealed that Raiders strength and conditioning coach Tom Shaw actually said Nelson is faster than when he arrived.
Shaw also called Nelson a workaholic, along with Martavis Bryant, according to Tafur.
“Jordy has been doing everything I have asked him to do, it’s been pretty impressive,” Shaw said. “Nelson and Martavis Bryant are workaholics for me, they and Amari Cooper are the bellcows.”
Therefore, it is clear that Nelson is putting in the work in the training room and the film room. He should easily gain the respect of his teammates including Derek Carr. Nelson should also set the example and lead by example thanks to this added commitment to improving himself and helping the team.
Oakland’s offense is built around Carr and Nelson
Ultimately, Carr and Nelson should grow into a dynamic duo because Oakland’s offense will start with that duo. Even if Cooper is the No. 1 receiver, Nelson will be vital to helping Carr improvise, move the chains, and convert drives into scoring.
Expect Carr to look for Nelson when the pocket breaks down. Nelson’s quarterback-like understanding of the offense makes him a primary target for improvising especially on big downs. Nelson should see many designated touches on third down and in the redzone.
Furthermore, this Nelson signing is more than just giving Carr a receiver that looks like him. The Raiders have a talented group of receivers that will compliment Nelson and push him for touches.
Jared Cook and Amari Cooper should gain some receptions in the middle of the field. All while Martavis Bryant is stretching the field over the top. That means Nelson should eat up the short to intermediate part of the field. Defenses will not key on him or double team him because of the talent around him. He should be the player Carr looks to as a safety blanket, as Carr did with Michael Crabtree. Further, Nelson clearly has the physical and mental mentality to do a lot of the Raiders junk work.
Once Carr and Nelson get that understanding of one another, they should easily be able to improvise and change the game. Nelson seems to be committed to getting better as does Carr. They both have an understanding of their game.
Either way, expect the Raiders offense to give the duo plenty of opportunities to mesh earlier. So far, the chemistry of this duo looks good in OTAs and hopefully, they can carry that into the regular season.