Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
Though technically still alive in the AFC playoff race, the Las Vegas Raiders were all but eliminated following their 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas Eve. The Raiders now sit at 6-9, and the biggest question surrounding head coach Josh McDaniels’ team going forward remains the quarterback situation and whether Derek Carr is the player to lead the franchise.
Carr had an awful game on Saturday, completing under 55 percent of his passes for the third time in four games and finishing with just 174 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He has now thrown a pick in five consecutive games and has taken over the league lead in the category with 14 on the season.
After the game, McDaniels did not hold back about what the Raiders need through the air, and the fact that Carr hasn’t been producing the way the team needs him to, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
“For us to be able to win at this time of the year and be productive, offensively you have to throw the ball better than what we’ve thrown at times here in the last month and a half,” McDaniels said, via the Associated Press. “We’ve been able to win some in spite of that, overall, but clearly, that’s not the goal. The goal would be to be more productive than what we’ve been.”
This lead to the obvious question about the future of Carr, and when asked point blank whether he would consider benching Carr this season, McDaniels didn’t dismiss the possibility:
“I think there’s a possibility that we would do the right thing regardless of the position […] Everybody can do better, and I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you he can do the same thing.”
While there certainly have been some good moments with Carr this season, he simply hasn’t reached that next level just yet, and questions continue to arise about whether he can lead this team to a Super Bowl. The Raiders making the moves they made this offseason were about taking that next step, and the team as a whole has not done so, with Carr being the biggest culprit.
Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham being the answer would be even less likely, but it would allow a look into what he can do. Perhaps more importantly, it would prevent any chance of injury to Carr, which is a huge deal considering his recent contract extension.
Even with the extension he signed before the season, the Raiders could release Carr before February 15, when around $33 million would be guaranteed. Should they do so, they would incur a cap hit of just $5.6 million, but if Carr were to incur any severe injury in these final two games, the Raiders would be on the hook for the full amount.
A team can not win in this league without having the right quarterback, and the Raiders must take every step to ensure they have that right person leading them next season.
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