Entries in Derek Carr (19)


Beautiful and bittersweet; Raiders win their Oakland finale

  OAKLAND, Calif.—It was wet and wild, beautiful and bittersweet, a last hurrah for the Raiders in the city that with its characters and character has been as much a part of their psyche and history as the wins and losses.

  Such sweet sorrow on this  Christmas Eve Monday of rain and reverie, when the fans, Raider Nation if you will, showed their loyalty and, like their team did with a stunning 27-14 win  over the Denver Broncos, their resiliency.

  Big time sports is built on caring,  by the athletes of course, but no less by the fans, who, as on this damp evening, turned the Oakland Coliseum parking lot into the international festival of food and music, and not surprisingly when the alcohol flowed, perhaps with some tears, turned the stands into a raucous arena.

  Yes, a few brawls, as some in the celebratory crowd of 53,850 lost control. More significant were the cheers, as fans—even knowing this probably was their final appearance in Oakland, maybe in California—stayed to what was the end of the game and could be the end of an era.

  They were given what they were owed, a victory that was set off five minutes after the opening kickoff on a 99-yard yard punt return for a touchdown by Dwayne Harris.

  The Raiders because of a disgraceful money-grabbing, egotistical move by owner Mark Davis are moving to Las Vegas where in 2020 a multi-billion pleasure dome of a stadium will be ready. But until then they are without a definite place to play, and whether they set up camp in San Francisco or Nevada or—heaven help us, London—it won’t be the same.

    Won’t be the festivities and tacos and joyful greetings that have preceded every game, including Monday night’s, in the big parking lots off 66th Avenue.

  Won’t be the same without the Black Hole, the fanatics—and that’s meant in the highest regard—who stand and yell in the sections directly behind the south goal posts.

   “I am thankful for  our fans,” said Jon Gruden, who in his return as Raiders coach this season now has a 4-11 record, with one game left, at Kansas City

“They were there every game for us. I really appreciate the support. Our fans really fueled us.”

  But the Raiders are leaving those fans, leaving the Coliseum, leaving Oakland—maybe something can be worked out for 2019, but all that does is extend the pain of waiting—departing at the whim and greed of their owner.

  Asked his thoughts on the idea this was the ultimate game in the Coliseum, Gruden, who coached the Raiders some 20 years ago, said, “I don’t like it. It’s too sentimental tonight. It’s for other people to decide. The love affair for the fans here goes way back, and when we get this result like we did tonight, it is a Merry Christmas for everybody.”

  The Raiders performed the way they were supposed —or at least Gruden and management  planned —making big plays, grabbing the momentum, playing superb defense.

   The sad thing for these Raider partisans, the guys in the skull masks, and the shoulder pads, the playful attire, is the team, with all those first-round draft picks (including those from the trade of the team’s best player, Khalil Mack, and one of its most exciting players, Amari Cooper) should be a champion by the time it gets to Vegas.

  The Broncos had more total net yards, 300 to 273 for Oakland—yeah, thought I’d throw in the city’s name once more—but that doesn’t include the 99-yard punt return.

   Quarterback Derek Carr who took a victory lap at game’s end, waving to fans from whom he doesn’t wish to be separated, completed 19 of 26 passes for 167 yards. Doug Martin ran 21 times for 107 yards, including a 24-yarder for the Raiders second touchdown.

  “This was different,”  Carr could be heard saying to backup AJ McCarron. “Last year we were on the road. Two years ago I broke my ankle. This was great.”

  In front of the media, Carr, being asked what it was like the last two minutes with a big lead, said, “I can’t wait to not have to win a game with two minutes left. Can we please just enjoy one? . . .What a perfect way to do it on Christmas Eve. This might possibly be the last game in Oakland,  at the Coliseum. It was really nice. It was different. I love Oakland. This is home. We have the best fans the world. They were on fire.”

  A fire even a rainstorm couldn’t put out.


Chiefs made plays when needed; Raiders made mistakes

OAKLAND, Calif.—Never mind the glass is half-full optimism, the ifs and the might-haves. The Oakland Raiders are not a very good football team. And that’s the reason they couldn’t beat a team that is very good, Kansas City, even thought the Chiefs on Sunday were playing their first game without running back Kareem Hunt, cut for attacking a woman.

  Whether the Chiefs were affected by the incident, caught on videotape, or by the loss of Hunt, is uncertain. But for sure they have enough quality players, including young quarterback Patrick Mahomes, to overcome the situation—which is always the case of winning teams.    Maybe the Raiders, who were 2-9 entering the game and two touchdown underdogs, were courageous. Maybe the Raiders showed resilience after their own mistakes, fumbles and penalties, seemingly gave them no chance. Maybe head coach Jon Gruden said, “We are playing good football.”

  But this season at least they are not on the same level as Chiefs. In the end, despite the loud support from a Coliseum crowd listed at 55,255; despite one of Derek Carr’s better games (passing for 285 yards and three touchdowns) the Chiefs were, 40-33, winners.

    KC is 10-2, leading the AFC. It makes plays when needed, as opposed to the Raiders, who in this one made mistakes when they weren’t needed, losing three fumbles and early on being called for a holding penalty which negated a first down and forced a punt.

   “Three fumbles and a fourth and one conversion call,” said Gruden. “Against the Kansas City Chiefs that’s going to be tough to overcome.”

  No impossible to overcome, especially when you add a 22-yard first quarter punt by Johnny Townsend.

  Mahomes, who is having a brilliant season, and tight end Travis Kelce, hurt the Raiders. “Travis and Patrick (Mahomes) made some incredible plays. They must live together or something. Give credit to those guys. You can’t do anything sometimes but tip your cap.”

  Carr did something. With the Raiders in the hole from the start he helped them climb back.

    “And that brings the Raiders to within 10 points,” public address announcer Gary Williams shouted to the crowd after a Carr to Jared Cook touchdown pass made it 26-16 in the third period. Exciting but not fulfilling.

   Possibility evolved into disappointment.

  “Somebody said earlier,” Gruden offered, “we haven’t fumbled the ball all year. They (the Raiders) are making good runs. I think one was on first and 10, the other on second and two and another after a long run. Sometimes when you’re in traffic you have to put the ball away.”

   Gruden made a smart move in the closing minute, something those decades earlier John Madden did against the Steelers in a playoff—trailing by 10, kicking a field goal rather than trying for a touchdown and then a field goal. But the Raiders couldn’t come up with the ball on the onside kick with 28 seconds to play.

 “We had them backed up,” said Gruden, “and thought we could kick and cover. (Daniel) Carlson made a great onside kick. Maybe it didn’t go the exact 10 yards, but it was hell of a kick.”

  That quote sort of reflected the Raider performance. They didn’t go the full distance, but they played a hell of a game. Then again, the NFL gets down to wins and losses, and the Raiders in 2018 have far too many losses.

  The stats were decent, 442 net yards compared to 469 for KC. The result was not. Mahomes was one reason (23 of 38 for 295 yards and four TDs). The turnovers were another reason.

  “Mahomes made a third and 15 play that was right on my sideline,” said Gruden. “I was so outside of myself I was upset. He made so many plays today. I was proud of our quarterback too. It was a shootout of two great young quarterbacks.”

  The other, Carr, said, “There was no doubt we were going to win. But give credit to the Chiefs. They are really good.”

  And at this moment in time the Raiders are not.


At least with the Raiders no reason to blame QB or coach

  ALAMEDA—In New York, they’re blaming the quarterback, Eli Manning, which is understandable it not necessarily justified since it’s New York and the quarterback is the easiest to blame.

   It you don’t find fault with the coach, who, in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, is accused of failing to take advantage of Aaron Rodgers’ talent.

  But here in the territory of reality, resignation and 2-9 NFL franchises, no one is upset with anybody in particular. Not particularly happy either, but it’s been a long while since either the 49ers or Raiders played what might be called a meaningful game—other than the one against each other.

   At Raider Central, where as always on Mondays Jon Gruden acts remarkably upbeat after downbeat Sundays, the issues were less caustic than some 30 miles down I-880, where Reuben Foster’s assault charge was the topic of the day.

    No one among the 20 or so Raider media had the temerity to ask Gruden if he were pleased that with all the other problems in this season of return to coaching and to the Raiders at least he didn’t have to deal with something or someone like Foster.

    There was an inquiry about the Raiders run defense, or lack of same, Baltimore Ravens rookie Gus Edwards  rushing for 118 yards on 33 carries and quarterback Lamar Jackson another 71 yards on 11 carries. Of course, Oakland hasn’t stopped the run in any game this season, which is as reason the Raiders are 2-9.

  “It’s a unique way of doing business right now in Baltimore,” said Gruden. “It’s a 250-pound back. (Edwards is listed at a mere 238). It’s an electrifying 4-3 quarterback. (One who uses his feet as well as his arm)  One’s going one way, and the other is going the other way. The young man can throw the football, so you have to defend a lot of different things.

 “There were times we made some mistakes up front. You really have to credit the Raven front for being physical.”

  In other words for having bigger, stronger or in the case of Jackson, speedier, players. The race may not always be to the swift or the battle to the strong, but that’s a pretty smart way to bet.

  The times the Raiders weren’t shoved aside they were run around.

    The Raiders overall simply don’t have the talent. This in part may be corrected by the 2019 draft, since Oakland has numerous first-round picks, but selections don’t always develop as hoped.

   When he was in full control of the Raiders and a step ahead of other teams, Al Davis went first after offensive linemen—think Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Dave Dalby for a start—then after defensive backs.  You’d knock people around when you had the ball and knock passes down when they had it.

  Oakland did use its overall top pick in the 2018 draft on offensive tackle Kolton Miller, but he’s still gaining experience.

   “It went pretty good,” Gruden said about Miller against the Ravens. “Last week (Arizona) it was Chandler Jones. This week it was Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon. It’s never perfect, but the last two weeks he’s played pretty good football for us.”

  Raider quarterback Derek Carr was sacked only three times by the Raven defense. But he’s been sacked 35 times total in the 11 games, for a loss of 200 yards, Hard to go forward when in effect you’re going backward.

  At times Carr had been reluctant to throw because he couldn’t find an open receiver. Other times he just got buried by the pass rush. Gruden was critical the first few games but no longer.

  “I think he’s a heck of a quarterback,” Gruden insisted. “I’ll leave it at that. I look forward to someday when we have all the pieces in place, and we have some continuity, and everybody is used to play with one another. I just think this guy has a real high ceiling, and he has a lot or pride in his performance.”

  All the pieces in place. Anybody have an idea when that will be?


Gruden on debates with QB: ‘We don’t have a ‘No Yelling’ sign on sideline

  ALAMEDA, Calif.—The coach and the quarterback had words. “I don’t have a ‘No yelling’ sign on the sideline,” said Jon Gruden. So he yelled at Derek Carr, and Derek Carr yelled back.

     “We get excited down there,” said the Raiders coach. In full view of the stands and television cameras.

 Great theater. “To be or not to be.” Not that kind of theater; not Shakespeare. More the Rockne kind. The Lombardi kind. Improv while the defense tries to improve.

  “What the hell is going on out here?” bellows Vince Lombardi on an old NFL Films segment,

  What was going on with the Oakland Raiders was an attempt Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals to win a game; it was successful, 23-21, on a last-second field goal.

   Some 24 hours after only his second victory in 10 games, Gruden, seated behind a desk at Raiders Central, was asked, “Is it a different Monday after a win?” His answer was personal and professional. “It’s been a tough year,” he said.

   A year of injuries. A year of on field mistakes. A year many of us decided was reflected in a coach and his QB jawing on the sideline, even if that’s common in the NFL, whether Bill Walsh with Joe Montana or Bill Belichick  with Tom Brady. 

   “I’m a big cheerleader sometimes,” Gruden explained. “I’m very positive a lot of the time. Every once in a while you have to make your points in some different ways. Sometimes raising your voice. I look ridiculous to some people, but I want urgency . . . I want to get things right.

  “I doesn’t mean I’m always right either. Derek pointed that out to me Sunday.”

   Football is a collaboration of calls, skills and fortunes. “Marshawn Lynch was here and running really well for us and then Marshawn went away,” was Gruden cut-to-the-chase phrasing of the injury that forced a change in the running game. “Doug Martin has been doing good things; Jalen Richard might be the MVP of our team.”

  Richard rushed 11 times for 61 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards. Carr completed 19 of 32 overall for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Whatever he and Gruden argued about may not have had much effect on the end result.

  “I think cameras can catch things that maybe look a little bit peculiar,” said Gruden, who, of course, before rejoining the Raiders this season was an analyst for ESPN for nine years.

   Peculiar could be the word for the Raiders’ season, for anyone who hesitates to use awful or disagreeable.

   Everything went south when Khalil Mack went east to the Chicago Bears. (What a game he had against the Vikings on Sunday night). There are numerous other reasons for going 2-8, mainly injuries to the offensive line, but the Mack trade seemed to trigger all misery.

   “These guys have played great,” said Gruden about a team he said has not come apart—which is a reflection of both players and coach.

“These guys played hard Sunday. I’m really proud of the effort. I know we’re not where we want to be, but the attitude and the effort and the camaraderie is a big part of establishing a program. For that I’m really proud.”

  The negative, as far as Oakland is concerned, is when the program is established the Raiders will be in Las Vegas.

  Gruden was asked what a lone victory can do for a team that, along with San Francisco and Arizona shares worst record in the NFL

    “We’ve had a lot of good practices,” said Gruden. “Guys have been putting forth a tremendous effort. They’ve been preparing hard. Winning is a great motivator. It’s a great cure. It builds momentum.

  “We’re missing a lot of players. Our injury list is unfortunate. Look at Drew Brees. I don’t know how many receivers have come and gone through New Orleans. Derek Carr has done well. That’s what every great quarterback has to do in this league.

   “Aaron Rodgers is going through it. Tom Brady has gone through it. That’s what comes with being a C.E.O.quarterback, and (Carr) has handled it extremely well. And that’s a credit to him.”

   As is handling the sideline disputes with Gruden.


Newsday (N.Y.): Raiders show respect for Eli Manning as they prepare to host Giants

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

ALAMEDA, Calif. — His brother, David, was the backup to Eli Manning on the Giants who rarely played. Now, as fate and fable would have it, Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders will be the first to play quarterback against the Giants since Manning was replaced as starter.

“I know this about Eli,” Carr said. “He’s a great person. I was able to learn from him a couple of years ago at the Pro Bowl. I was fortunate and blessed to be on that same team as him. Just learn from him, ask questions, all of those things.”

Read the full story here.

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