Derek Carr took the field for the first time this year during the Oakland Raiders second pre-season tilt against the Los Angeles Rams. It was Carr’s first time back on the turf in Oakland since going down with a broken leg in week 16 of the 2016 season.
The Raiders quarterback suffered a broken fibula on Christmas Eve last year, all but ending the Raiders hopes for a run deep into the playoffs. The injury ended what many considered to be Carr’s run at the league MVP.
Healthy, and under contract for the next five years, the unquestioned leader of the Oakland Raiders offense is ready to get back to work. Derek Carr’s passing efficiency and the Oakland Raiders ability to win time-of-possession will help to protect an painfully average defense.
Derek Carr and Clock Management Key To Oakland Raiders Success
Winning a Championship With Offense
Winning in the AFC West is no simple task, to do so, teams need to have the players in-place to compete. By locking up Carr for the next five years, and surrounding him with young play-makers, the Oakland Raiders will be favorites in the divisions for the next half decade.
As is the case with every NFL franchise, team success hinges on the play of the quarterback. There are very few instances where a team has won a championship with a mediocre signal caller behind center.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 2015 Denver Broncos managed to lift the Lombardi Trophy with the help of legendary defensive units, in spite of average play at the quarterback position. This is a luxury the Oakland Raiders don’t have.
In order to win with a defense that has consistently ranked in the bottom half of the league, the Raiders will need Derek Carr to play lights out from start to finish, and subsequently control the clock as best he can.
Controlling the Clock
Much like the Dallas Cowboys did in 2016, the Raiders will need to win the time-of-possession battle each and every week. This will keep their dismal defense off the field, and opponents from exploiting them.
No longer settling for drives that end in costly three-and-outs, Oakland now has the pieces in place to convert on third down. Running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook will help to keep drives alive and the clock running.
The Oakland Raiders had a three-and-out percentage of 21.13 according to SportingCharts.com, ranking them 20th in the league in 2016. In comparison, the Atlanta Falcons had the top mark of 13.71 percent.
The Efficiency of Derek Carr
Derek Carr ranked 15 in the league last year in completion percentage with a mark of 63.8 percent passes completed. He will have to improve on this if the Raiders are going to win the time-of-possession battle.
Being able to complete passes and run the ball effectively is how an NFL team controls the clock. The Raiders have answered the running portion of this formula with a stable of violent and electric running backs. And as a result will be able to keep the clock running longer.
The efficient passing portion will come from Derek Carr and his wide receivers’ ability to hold onto the football, especially Michael Crabtree. Crabtree’s league leading nine drops from a year ago must be improved on if Oakland is going to make a serious run at a Super Bowl.
With the right run and pass balance, and the ability to convert on third down, winning time-of-possession should come easy for Oakland. And if the Raiders can win that battle, winning the war should come easy.