When the Raiders roll into Baltimore, they will encounter a familiar face. For three seasons, Crabtree delighted fans, irritated coaches and boxed opponents as a Raider. Throughout his tenure, Crabtree re-ignited his career and served as a catalyst for the resurgence. Like him or not, the Raiders and Crabtree benefitted from each other. Now, looking back, Crabtree’s departures raises issues that need answers.
Despite possessing average speed, Crabtree used a stutter go to get vertical. Carr found him regularly downfield. More importantly, Carr trusted Crabtree in the red zone. These two connected on two of the most memorable Raider victories of the Carr era. On the other hand, Crabtree would suffer the occasional bobble or drop. Yet, no other receiver enjoyed Derek Carr’s trust. When Mark Davis hired Jon Gruden, change quickly occurred. Crabtree caught his last pass from the Raiders, his release.
Despite Crabtree’s connection to Carr, cracks in his attitude always stayed at the surface. If he wasn’t engaged in fist fights with Aqib Talib, Crabtree often sulked. In fact, he removed himself from the 2017 finale versus the Chargers. Under Jon Gruden, Crabtree’s moody, sullen act would not work. Unfortunately, the talented wideout found himself elsewhere. Whether you can play or not, Gruden prefers his way or the highway.
When Crabtree signed with Baltimore, many expected him to forge the same relationship with Joe Flacco. In contrast, Crabtree struggles to gain any yards after catch. Moreover, his catch percentage is the lowest of his career. If you watch the film, Crabtree does not seem to attack the route tree like he did in Oakland. Additionally, his stats suggest a decline. However, is it the quarterback, the scheme or diminishing skills? Something appears off.
In reality, the Raiders see Crabtree as just another opponent. Due to the turnover, few played against him. Meanwhile, Crabtree sees Oakland as a proving point. Within any competitor resides the motivation to excel versus his former team. Granted, with little pass rush, the Ravens will have plenty of time to find Crabtree.