Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr has lost the locker room, future in doubt

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders is injured in a tackle during the NFL International Series game between Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium on October 14, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders is injured in a tackle during the NFL International Series game between Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium on October 14, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is in the process of burning everything down, but what does that mean for the team’s franchise quarterback?

If you believe Oakland Raiders HC Jon Gruden – in the wake of the deal that sent former first-round pick Amari Cooper to Dallas – they’re done making deals, and he’s strictly focused on keeping the team competitive, and winning the next game against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.

The question to that statement, of course, is – why would you believe anything coming out of Gruden’s mouth at this point?

Believing what Gruden is saying anymore, is akin to saying that you’d be happy to buy some oceanfront property in Nebraska, a timeshare on the moon, and that you’re totally confident that Nigerian prince will wire $25 million dollars to your bank account.

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In other words, if you believe Gruden at this point, you’ve pretty much got “sucker” tattooed on your forehead.

Not that he answers to we the people. Running a football team isn’t a democracy, and he’s not accountable to anybody but his boss – Mark Davis, of course. At some point though, he’s going to need a little bit of goodwill not just from the fans (who are already burning him in effigy all across the Raider Nation at this point), but from his locker room. His team. His players.

With all of Gruden’s eyebrow raising moves, and the fact that he seems to be dealing from the bottom of the deck a lot of the time, you would think the team would have openly revolted by now. Though, perhaps their play lately has been revolting is referendum enough. But, we have seen very few stories about Gruden losing this team. Which is interesting, and somewhat noteworthy.

A recent report though, is very surprising, given the backdrop of the utter chaos and turmoil the team is in, stating that it’s actually Derek Carr, and not Gruden, who has lost this team.

According to a report from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, Carr has lost the team – which, if true, could very well put his future with the club in doubt. Thompson, citing sources within the organization, writes that the players have lost all confidence in Carr, at least in part, to his emotional reaction to taking a physical beating at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks over in London.

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"“It certainly didn’t help when film showed what looked like him crying after being sacked and injuring his arm, They saw his face. They heard his whimper. They witnessed him explain on the sidelines. They assuredly watched it again in film session. It’s hard to see how Carr can lead this team again.”"

If there is any truth to this report – and at this point, it should be taken with quite a few grains of salt – this is a massive bombshell, and it suddenly casts a lot of doubt on the future of the guy the organization – on McKenzie’s watch – believed was the future of the team.

With McKenzie running the show, the Raiders believed Carr was the franchise quarterback they needed for a long, long time. And over his first three seasons, Carr lived up to the hype. He exceeded the hype, actually. He improved every season, was a legit MVP candidate in 2016, and led the Raiders to their first playoff appearance in a very long time – though, a broken leg kept him from actually participating.

Over the last two seasons – since signing that then-record five-year, $125 million dollar deal – Carr has slipped backward, and looks more like a backup with some potential, rather than a legit franchise quarterback

Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders /

Las Vegas Raiders

You can blame a thousand different things for his regression, but the fact remains that Carr has not looked like the same quarterback who earned that massive payday. He has not looked like the same quarterback at all. He’s become a bit of a shell of that former quarterback.

Yes, injuries are playing a part. They’re probably deep in his psyche at this point. He has taken a physical pounding over the last couple of years, and has suffered some injuries, that have impacted – and have clearly stuck with – him. He’s also just making some very, very poor decisions with the football, and is hurting his team with those poor decisions.

Carr is rushing throws, refuses to step up or hang in the pocket, is too quick to check down, and does everything he can to avoid getting hit if at all possible – though, the recent play of the line has made that almost completely impossible. Looking at it from the outside, the physical toll on his body, has taken over his mind, giving Carr a case of the yips – and there is no known cure for the yips.

That perceived case of the yips could also be a driving factor in Thompson’s report. If – and it’s still a big if at this point – it’s true.

If it is true, that Carr has the yips, and has lost the locker room, and his teammates no longer have any confidence in him, it very well could hasten his exit from the franchise.

Then again, given that Gruden is trading everybody away, and will overhaul this roster from head to toe this offseason, there’s a better than even shot that the players who’ve lost faith in Carr might not even be around next season, meaning, he has a little bit of time to get his head straight – if that’s possible.

With players who most of us believed would be cornerstone pieces of this franchise for a long time, like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, being jettisoned, you can’t help but wonder who will be the next one out the door. Karl Joseph? Gabe Jackson? Gareon Conley?

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It seems that nobody drafted by McKenzie is safe at this point – not even somebody once thought of as a franchise quarterback. There’s no saying Carr will absolutely be traded. But, if Thompson’s report proves accurate, and he has lost the confidence of his teammates, that might be something Carr can’t come back from.

Nothing is certain but change in this world, and Jon Gruden just keeps proving that right over, and over again.