A Raiders player displayed a new emotion.“He looked pissed.”
That’s what one teammate described Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr before Monday Night’s season opener against the Denver Broncos.
It was heat and intensity that would make Mount Pinatubo blush. But it’s the type of fire the Raiders need regularly from it’s marquee player.
“I was a man on a mission before the game,” Carr told the Athletic. “And that had nothing to do with what went down this past week. That was pent-up from last season. I have been ready to go for a while and I know we have a really good team this year, and I couldn’t wait to get out there. So, not angry, just ready and really focused. I’m on a mission. The job is not done.”
And thus, the first Keep/Discard of the 2019 season begins with DC.
Like he mentioned, dude is on a mission and that’s a boon for the Raiders. Despite the distraction of a cat who bailed on the Raiders, DC was on point. This must be a constant from opener to season finale. The difference between 2018 and 2019 is already apparent: Carr told Gruden what play the team should run instead of asking what the Raiders should do, namely, the screen to Tyrell Williams to seal the MNF win:
“That’s a conversation that doesn’t happen last year,” Carr said. “Last year, I would go over and ask him what he wants to do. ‘What’s the call?’ But we’re on the same page now. To his credit, he said, ‘Let’s end it.’”
Featuring Darren Waller
As I’ve said before, #BallsToTheWaller. The receiver turned tight end provides matchup headaches with his 6-foot-6 frame and 4.46 speed. He’s taking over the Jared Cook role and, like the veteran tight end, is comfortable running routes all over the field.
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Running behind Alec Ingold
I have an affinity for blocking fullbacks and my interest in Ingold began way before he joined the team as an undrafted free agent. A bulldozer by nature, Ingold is a pathfinder. Just look at how beautiful it was watching rookie tailback Josh Jacobs follow Ingold.
As vaunted Broncos pass rusher Von Miller so eloquently said: If Carr is given the time, he can make all the throws. The Raiders patchwork offensive line kept Carr clean on Monday night. That must continue as the season progresses. Surely there will be games where DC hits the turf, but keeping No. 4 on his feet is imperative.
Lapses on Defense
The Raiders first-half defensive performance was inspiring and a sight to behold. But the second half wasn’t anywhere near inspiring, it was downright concerning. Paul Guenther needs his group to maintain the same desire for all four quarters.
Undrafted rookie AJ Cole had a respectable 44.7 average on 3 punts (with a long of 52) but one of those boots was a botch dribbler. The Raiders chose cole because Johnny Townsend was a habitual botcher. Cole was supposed to be the consistent option between the two and Oakland needs a big-legged steady punter as the season goes on.
Rookie Snap Counts
If there are any, there shouldn’t be. The Raiders need to know exactly what they have in the 2019 draft class and there shouldn’t be any pitch counts. That means handing Jacobs the ball more than 23 times and throwing the ball to Hunter Renfrow twice. Gruden will need to use all his weapons against the incoming Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.