The Patriots aren’t the only NFL team forced to weather some tension within their own ranks as the regular season wound down. Some factors as to why the Raiders, one year removed from a 12-4 record, went to pieces down the stretch and subsequently fired Coach Jack Del Rio are coming into focus.
The team’s coaching staff had seen enough of quarterback Derek Carr by the season’s final month and turned on him, according to Raiders longtime radio voice Greg Papa. Earlier this week, on his Bay Area radio show on 95.7 The Game, Papa said, “Basically, the Raiders have a broken car right now, and it’s Derek. It’s No. 4.”
To support this claim, Papa discussed the fallout from a 26-15 Raiders loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14, when Oakland had a 6-6 record and was firmly in the thick of the AFC West chase only to fall behind 26-0 thanks in no small part to one of Carr’s most ineffective performances of the season.
“This coaching staff turned on Derek Carr as well. After the Kansas City game they called him out in front of a whole team meeting,” Papa said. “It wasn’t just the offense or the quarterbacks (or) a segment of the team. It was the whole team. And they ripped him in front of everybody, and Derek’s a prideful guy.”
Carr was 24-of-41 passing for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions that day in Kansas City, the first of four straight Raiders losses to close the season.
“But when you have a head coach that’s not designing the play (and) calling the play and then second-guessing the play and the quarterback’s play on a certain play, it doesn’t go well.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis fired Del Rio moments after a season-ending loss to the Chargers and made moves to bring in Jon Gruden, who will officially become Oakland’s coach for the second time on Tuesday, per reports. Carr, a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, signed a massive contract extension worth $125 million over five years last summer on the heels of a stellar 2016 season in which he completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns against just six picks in leading the Raiders to their first playoff berth since 2002. But after suffering a fracture of the transverse process in his back during a Week 4 loss to the Broncos in Denver, he wasn’t quite the same guy despite missing just one game.
Gruden hasn’t even taken the Raiders job yet, so it’s far too soon to tell if he’ll “turn on” Carr the way Papa believes Del Rio and his staff did. But if you’re longing for any kind of an early sign, Gruden did host Carr during his “Gruden’s QB Camp,” part of his broadcasting and analyst duties for ESPN, before the draft four years ago. From the sound of it, Gruden really, really liked him. (Spoiler: He sounded like he really, really liked all of his campers over the years.)
Whatever issues plagued Carr over the course of the season’s final month, he appears to be feeling just fine about his soon-to-be new coach.
(H/T CBS Sports)
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