Oakland Raiders: Five Bold Predictions for the 2015-16 Season

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#2 – Derek Carr will throw for the most yards in the AFC West

Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback

Derek Carr

(4) looks to pass in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The first three slides were dedicated to the success of Raiders’ pass catchers. But if they’re going to succeed, then the man throwing them the ball has to succeed. And that man is second year QB Derek Carr.

Carr had an all-in-all pretty successful rookie season. After dropping to the second round of the 2014 draft, Carr wanted to prove that teams had erred in passing on him, and he was worth the illustrious first round pick. He did that to the tune of 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Those totals are all pretty solid and should improve with his new set of weapons. He completed 58.1% of his passes which ranked him third best among all rookie quarterbacks.

While that isn’t a bad completion percentage, it could’ve been much higher if Carr didn’t attempt 599 passes. While his receivers may like that, it is a detriment for any quarterback, especially a young one to be attempting that many passes. With the introduction of new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, those attempts will likely come down a hefty amount.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With his attempts coming down, Carr will have more time between each pass and will be able to not only stay more durable, but be sharper on his throws. He isn’t exposing himself as much to opposing defenses. Carr will still throw plenty of enough passes for all the receiving mouths to be fed, but he won’t be shouldering the Raiders’ offense alone.

Looking at the rest of the AFC West, there are many big names in the division, but none of them really stand out as much as they have as the past.

For the Chiefs it is Alex Smith. He is known for his unwillingness to throw the ball downfield and is used to throwing mainly check downs. With the arrival of Jeremy Maclin from Philadelphia and Chris Conley by the way of the Georgia Bulldogs, Smith might be more willing to throw downfield. But until then, he will be known as a strict check down type guy. Last year he managed to throw for 2,365 yards and no touchdowns to his wide receivers.

Philip Rivers of the Chargers is a good bet to win this award. Seeing that he is in a contract year looking to get a high dollar deal, he may fight hard to prove his worth. But Rivers won’t have his stud tight end Antonio Gates for the first four games, and is void of talent beyond him and Keenan Allen. Rivers will need to make something of Ladarius Green or Malcom Floyd to reach the pinnacle of the AFC West.

Peyton Manning of the Broncos may be the outright choice to win this award, but some things are flawed. He showed continual signs of aging last year and that process is sure to continue into this year. Plus new head coach Gary Kubiak loves to run the ball. And with Manning aging, the team might choose to go to a ground and pound rather than an aerial assault. It is possible Manning has one good season left, but all the arrows point to it being over.

Carr, like Smith had a problem getting the ball downfield as his 5.46 yards per attempt was the worst in the NFL. That is likely due to the team wanting to pump the brakes on their new franchise quarterback. Now that he will be in a system that better utilizes not just him, but his other offensive weapons better, he will be able to throw the ball farther.

As for Rivers and Manning, Carr has tons of potential in his receivers and he isn’t aging nor is his team looking to go to a run scheme.

Carr will have to improve, that is for certain, but given the state of the AFC West QB’s, and the potential Carr holds, he may be able to surmount them on his way to becoming the King of the AFC West.

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