Derek Carr set to 'raise the standards' for himself, Raiders rebuild


Derek Carr set to 'raise the standards' for himself, Raiders rebuild

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr is playing in his sixth NFL season, already going through his second Raiders rebuild. That’s one too many for his taste, but he understands it was required after head coach Jon Gruden took control before last season.

The quarterback’s goal was to expedite the often-painstaking process wherever possible and never use that fact to excuse subpar team play.

“The expectations have definitely changed, which was my goal,” Carr said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “My attitude was, ‘rebuild this.’ I’m 28 years old. I’m trying to win now.”

The bar has been raised for a young team reliant on an excellent rookie class and a franchise quarterback playing his best football.

It was pretty low after the Antonio Brown fiasco, with a five-game road trip and brutal slate overall ahead of them. The Raiders navigated those issues and others that came about pretty well, positioning themselves to move into a tie atop the AFC West with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Oddsmakers don’t think the Raiders can do that. The Silver and Black are double-digit underdogs heading into a cold-weather game, coming off a thrashing against the Jets. They’ll have to buck some trends to win this one, but the Raiders still see an opportunity they don’t want to pass up.

“Everyone wants to get so high when you’re winning, but we have to sit back and be real about it,” Carr said. “We’re building something. I say that first because it’s just a fact. We’re young and rebuilding, but that’s no excuse because we have proven that, when everybody shows up, we can beat anybody. The mindset is, ‘let’s do it now.’ If we all just do right, we can go into Arrowhead and come out with a victory. We can go into four games after that and win. We know it’s going to get harder from here on out. Hopefully, everyone responds the right way and we’re ready to rock.”

Carr is ready to play this huge game, ready to prove he can succeed in the cold and at Arrowhead Stadium, where critics say he can’t. He’s used to voices of dissent saying he can’t or he won’t. Yes, he hears them. No, he doesn’t care what they say.

He doesn’t bother trying to argue anymore, not even with career highs in completion percentage and yards per attempt and several other meaningful metrics. He understands that is futile. Some people, some Raiders fans, don’t like him and never will. That was tough to accept at first, but that fact has hardened him some and added an edge to his outlook and his play.

"I'd almost say numb to it, but in a good way," Carr said. "For so long, I cared too much about what other people thought. I’m a people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy, and when I couldn’t do that no matter how hard I tried, it was hard. I was busting my tail trying to do every single thing right and be a good teammate, and I couldn’t figure out why people didn’t like that. When they don’t know you, it’s tough.

“But I’ve gotten to a place where I’m married with three kids. I’m a grown man. I really don’t care what anyone has to say. I’m going to parent-teacher conferences. I don’t have time to care about what outsiders think. What I’ve come to understand is that you always find a stat on Twitter that makes you like me or not like me. All I know is that I love being a Raider and I’m not going to play for anyone else. This is my team. This is the team I love. This is the team I give everything for. If people like that, awesome. If not, they’re going to have to get used to it.”

[RELATED: Raiders' run game must improve vs. vulnerable Chiefs D]

While defiant of outside expectations, Carr's internal bar has gone up for good. His play has reached a new, higher plateau. He doesn't use numbers to support that claim or any other argument and doesn't care about those used against him. He has a different standard of excellence

"The numbers you know how I feel about those. They get skewed sometimes," Carr said. "I want to answer a few simple questions: Does the guy know what he's doing? Is he doing it at a high level? And, is he getting better? These coaches push me so hard that they've helped me raise the standards. I'll do whatever a coach says, and they give me a list of things after every game. I love that. .. We're at a place where the bar has been raised. This is where we're at now. There's no going back."

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says


Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders."

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Out of a possible 96 starts since being drafted by the Raiders in 2014, quarterback Derek Carr has been under center for 94 of them.

But after a disappointing 7-9 season, many Raiders fans have clamored for a change at the game’s most important position.

Carr, however, hasn’t paid the rumors or social media fodder too much attention.

“But I'll say it this way,” Carr said (h/t ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out -- until I'm done."

The 28-year-old had a career year in 2019, setting career-highs in passing yards (4,054), yards per attempt (7.9), and quarterback rating (100.8).

But coach Jon Gruden grew frustrated with Carr’s inability to throw the ball downfield consistently, and some potential free agent quarterbacks reportedly have caught the Raiders’ eye.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

As the team re-brands and moves into its new home in Sin City, some believe the team will bring on a new starting signal-caller to usher in the Las Vegas Raiders era.

Just don’t count Carr among them.