Next year. Definitely, next year … right? That’s when the Oakland Raiders will finally take the backup quarterback seriously.
Be absolutely honest with yourself: Do the names Connor Cook and/or E.J. Manuel produce a profound sense of confidence? If you said yes, God bless your diminished football acumen.
Jon Gruden will not hesitate to wax poetic about his starting quarterback Derek Carr. For good reason. When provided with a demanding offensive coordinator and a game plan suited to exploit his biggest strengths, Carr proved he can be the face of the franchise. Saddle him with exorbitant mediocre coaching and, well …
Worse yet, remove Carr completely from the equation and you’re staring at a wasteland landscape at quarterback reserved for the Fallout video game series.
You may say I’m slighting Cook and Manuel. I’m not entirely sure you can snub a scrub. Cook as an unknown commodity is a buyable prospect. But it’s losing value at an exponential rate. Shaquille Richardson’s interception of a Cook pass on the first day of training camp in Napa is one in a series of picks he has fired dating back to minicamps last month.
Manuel, on the other hand, is nothing more than a fragile caretaker. He’s not even game-manager material because, well, those type of QBs actually win games. He’s a failed former first-round pick who has exemplary work ethic, but doesn’t have the game-day production to match his dedication.
Yet, here were are, with Cook and Manuel fighting for the right to backup Carr. Gruden was very high on Cook when he came out of Michigan State. But let’s face it, which quarterback prospect was Gruden down on during his highly-entertaining Gruden QB Camp segments?
The cerebral head coach is giving Cook a golden opportunity to seize the day and instead, the third-year 25-year-old has laid siege to his prospects of being a No. 2 QB thus far. It’s viable Gruden is relegating Manuel to remedial duties because he’s seen all he needs to see. This is supposed to be the push Cook needed. Instead, he’s pushing himself out of the spot.
Carr without question will be the engine powering the Raiders offense. However, it’s absolutely absurd the team doesn’t have a respectable option as his backup. Carr’s injury history — fair or foul — demands attention in the form of a realistic No. 2 signal caller.
Whether that is attained by a high-round draft pick or a veteran free agent acquisition, it’s long overdue.