Derek Carr and Jon Gruden could be entering their final weeks of a damaged relationship.
Barring a miracle, and given recent comments made by the two, it doesn’t seem likely their relationship will be salvaged. Carr, the Raiders’ starting quarterback since 2014, could soon transition into a bench role behind Marcus Mariota.
What proof do we have that Mariota could lead the Las Vegas Raiders out onto the field for their Sept. 13 matchup at Carolina? Gruden’s recent praise for the former No. 2 overall pick says it all.
Carr has been inconsistent as the Raiders’ quarterback
The younger brother of former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, Derek Carr has had a solid career so far. But that’s just the word: solid.
Carr never started a playoff game through his first six seasons. The then-Oakland Raiders lost in the AFC wild-card round to the Houston Texans in January 2017, two weeks after Carr suffered an injury.
In those six seasons, that playoff berth was the only time Carr posted a winning record. Although Carr improved his accuracy over the last two years under Jon Gruden, the 40 touchdowns to 18 interceptions isn’t a great ratio.
Overall, Carr has been fine. He’s an acceptable quarterback who, with Josh Jacobs at running back, could transition into an effective game manager.
Gruden is no stranger to game managers. He won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson quarterbacking the Buccaneers, after all.
Still, the Raiders aren’t pleased with Carr’s progress. That’s why Las Vegas signed ex-Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota this offseason.
Jon Gruden is thrilled with Marcus Mariota
If Derek Carr wants to prove he’s still the Raiders’ quarterback of the future, he couldn’t have been thrilled with Jon Gruden’s recent comments.
During a Zoom meeting with reporters, Gruden praised Marcus Mariota, the former Titans quarterback who signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in March.
According to Pro Football Talk, Gruden went so far as to say Mariota’s play “fired me up.”
“He’s a dazzling playmaker with his feet, and that’s the key to his game. So I saw that, glimpses of that today. It was exciting. Started off slow in seven-on-seven, but picked it up. Had a nice day. Had a really nice day.”
Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in 2015, completed 62.9% of his passes across five seasons with the Titans for 13,207 yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions.
The former Heisman Trophy winner also ran for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry. Tennessee benched him last year and rode replacement quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry’s partnership to the AFC championship game.
Will Jon Gruden start Marcus Mariota over Derek Carr?
Officially, Derek Carr is the Las Vegas Raiders’ starting quarterback until he’s told otherwise.
Unofficially, that conversation may happen in the coming weeks. Jon Gruden is explicitly stressing how pleased he is with Mariota, a player he praised when Gruden worked at ESPN, and building up a quarterback battle.
Gruden has been around the NFL long enough to know the good a quarterback change can do, especially with an incumbent starter.
Tannehill turned the Titans into AFC finalists. What could replacing Carr, a fine quarterback but one who’s never taken the Raiders over the hump, with Mariota do?
It’s a question the Raiders may want to explore — and soon enough, the franchise may go down that path.