Oakland Raiders: It’s past time to drop the pretenses and shut Carr down

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders slides after a run against the Los Angeles Chargers during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders slides after a run against the Los Angeles Chargers during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders are doing nothing more than playing out the string on 2018 – here’s one call to start shutting it down to prepare for 2019.

To hear Oakland Raiders HC Jon Gruden tell it, the team is going to keep grinding away and will get some wins before the year is out. Of course, he says that with decidedly less enthusiasm and conviction than he did before the season began, but that’s neither here nor there.

The truth of the matter is that the Raiders gain nothing by winning. In fact, they could potentially be losing big by continuing the charade of trying to win.

First and foremost, of course, is that as of this writing, the Raiders hold the number one overall pick. And given the dire needs this team has at the moment, Oakland is in prime position being able to choose from players like Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell, Andraez Williams (aka Greedy Williams), and Deionte Thompson out there who could very nicely address some of those needs.

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Winning more games this year would slightly limit some of those options and when you’re building a team essentially from scratch, you need all the options you can get. With three first round picks this year (and two next year), Gruden is going to need to bring in as many blue chippers as he can get.

That’s looking at the macro of this thing though. Now, let’s turn our attention to the micro a bit – and in looking at the micro, it seems clear that the decision to sit quarterback Derek Carr for the rest of the season is one that should be made.

Believe it or not, the call to sit Carr for these last seven games has absolutely zero to do with tanking – the team is horrendous and is losing plenty well enough on their own even with him on the field. No, the call to sit Carr is all about protecting this franchise moving forward.

Look, there’s no denying this team is in a full blown scorched earth rebuild mode. It’s a fire sale down at Crazy Jon’s Backlot Bazaar and everybody must go. This team is being torn asunder so that something better and more sustainable can rise from the ashes.

And that plan may include Carr. If – we really don’t know that it’s a sure thing at this point – but if, Carr is the quarterback Gruden thinks he can be, then we’ll see him with the Raiders even after they pull up stakes and head for Sin City.

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However, the call to sit him is actually a two-pronged deal, simply because it makes no sense whatsoever to keep running him out there week after week, only to watch him get his head kicked in on nearly every play because the offensive line – inept and ravaged by injuries – can’t seem to block a marauding band of tumbleweeds at this point.

Allowing Carr to keep rolling out there to take the beating he’s taking is just plain stupid at this point.

Oh, Gruden wants to give us all the illusion that he hasn’t thrown in the towel on the season. He’ll keep on talking about winning games this year and whatnot, and that’s fine. He can’t actually admit to throwing in the towel and tanking to better his draft position. That’s fine.

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Las Vegas Raiders

But, if Carr keeps going out there week after week and getting the tar kicked out of him, Gruden is risking the future moving forward.

First of all, if Carr actually is Gruden’s quarterback of choice to lead this team into Sin City and his new era of Raiders football, he’s continuing to expose him to the risk of catastrophic injury by continuing him to play him behind a line that’s softer than Cheez Whiz.

Carr has taken 11 sacks in the last two games alone. He’s on pace to take 50 (or more) sacks on the year – by far, the highest total of his career. And if this line keeps playing the way they have these last two games, he could actually find himself staring his brother David Carr‘s record for most sacks taken in a season in the face.

After a busted leg ended his 2016 campaign, and then a three broken bones in his back last season – along with a myriad of other, smaller injuries – Carr isn’t the same quarterback who led the charge toward Oakland’s first playoff berth since the wheel was invented a couple of years back.

Sitting him now for the rest of the season will give him time to get his body – and hopefully, his mind – right again. Giving him a chance to recover and not have to deal with the pressure of being the guy under center in what could very feasibly be a 1-15 season, may give him the time to get his head back on straight – which could potentially give him the space he needs to rediscover the form he had in 2016 when he had a legit MVP-caliber season.

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However, if the plan is to not keep Carr as the team’s quarterback of the future, running him out there makes no sense for the same reason as if the plan is to keep him – they continue to risk catastrophic injury to him.

If Gruden is planning on trading Carr in the offseason and bringing in a veteran and/or adding a rookie via the Draft, they need him to be healthy to maximize the return. It’s unclear at this point, given his two years of struggles now, just what he’d be worth in a trade, but you know Gruden would be pushing for at least one first-rounder for a guy who was thought of as a genuine franchise quarterback and MVP candidate in the not too distant past.

Either way though, whether they plan to keep or trade him, they need to ensure he doesn’t suffer some catastrophic injury over the next seven weeks. And the best way to do that is to park him on the bench and wrap him in bubble wrap for the remainder of the season.

What happens, as a for instance, if say, in week 17, he blows an ACL or Achilles while he’s running for his life or getting hammered by an opposing defender? He’s out for a long while and would very likely miss significant time next season.

Will he hate it? Absolutely. If there’s one thing you can say about Carr, it’s that he’s a competitor. But, behind a line playing as poorly as Oakland’s is, the risk is just too great to keep letting him roll out there.

These last seven games are meaningless. They have as much value as a slate of exhibition games. It’s time to evaluate some of the vets and the younger guys as Gruden and his staff start laying the groundwork for the roster in 2019. Other than that, these last seven games have no value whatsoever.

Continuing to play Carr serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and simply exposes this team to more risk than they should be willing to take – all in the name of trying to appear as if they’re doing their best to stay competitive and win some games this year.

But really, what is the point?

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The season is over and winning a game here or there means absolutely nothing. So they finish 2-14 or 3-13 rather than 1-15 – does it really matter? What they’re risking is so much more than winning another game or two this season.

No, the time has come to drop all the pretenses of trying to remain competitive and bench Carr for the rest of the year. Let A.J. McCarron run the offense for these next seven games to see if the Raiders could potentially at least have a decent backup to Carr in 2019 – if he’s actually still with the team, anyway.