Top five ways Raiders can best move on from Carr's injury
The Raiders were en route to one glorious Saturday. They were whooping the Indianapolis Colts, thanks to touchdowns on five straight series. Instant replays were pre-written. Storylines were flushed in articles ready to post. Then that afternoon went pitch black.
Quarterback Derek Carr broke his right fibula while getting sacked on one of just three quarterback pressures allowed all day long. The Raiders championship aspirations took a gut shot, and the Raiders must recover well and stay poised without their unquestioned leader.
Here are five takeaways on how the Raiders move on after a rough day in Oakland.
5) Complimentary football mandatory
Head coach Jack Del Rio loves it when offense, defense and special teams help each other out. The Raiders have won with a dominant phase of the game, typically the offense.
That unit may not be as efficient without Carr, meaning the defense and special teams need to win the field position battle. Takeaways will also be important, to help make scoring easier on short fields.
4) Ground and pound
The Raiders have a hulking offensive line and a solid running game. That was clear against the Colts, when the Raiders ran 37 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
They have a solid rotation with Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, backs capable of controlling the clock and churning out yards. The Raiders could go old school and become more reliant on the ground game to score points.
Teams would expect it, but the Raiders have generally fared well when running on obvious rushing downs. The offensive line is excellent creating space, and must continue to do so as the year continues.
3) Mack must take control
Derek Carr and Khalil Mack are both team leaders. Carr was more of a vocal captain, someone offensive and defensive players could rely on. Mack is an excellent performer though a bit quieter in general. He doesn’t have to raise his voice with Carr out, but must be the Raiders rallying point.
Big defensive plays can set the tone, and Mack is certainly capable of taking over games and sparking this team to victory. Mack can’t win games by himself, but he can inspire with big moments and quality play.
2) Rebound quickly
The Raiders had every right to be upset by Carr going down. Bruce Irvin said Saturday’s win felt like a loss, with the entire locker room upset at losing their leader. The NFL won’t wait around for an appropriate mourning period.
Teams will attack the Raiders and Matt McGloin in particular. At this point in the year, even one bad week could impede ultimate goals, so the Raiders must rally behind McGloin and execute well or risk letting Carr’s injury bring them down hard.
1) McGloin takes center stage
Matt McGloin is supremely confident in his ability to win football games. That’s important, considering he’ll have to perform for this quality roster to win in the postseason, make clutch throws and protect the football consistently to realize its full potential. The Raiders won regularly because Derek Carr often came through in the clutch, but that was easier with a solid supporting cast. He had a quality offensive line, a productive ground game and relatively stable receivers with unique traits.
McGloin steps into a good situation, an environment conducive to quality play. He must be steady and avoid big mistakes to keep the offense moving.
McGloin will have doubters, especially in the national media. He must ignore all that and be a leader from under center or this magical Raiders season could be cut short.