As the Raiders stumble down a path that leads toward the top pick in next year's draft, all eyes are locked onto $100 million coach Jon Gruden and $25 million per year quarterback Derek Carr. Gruden's job with the Raiders is safe given his extraordinary contract. Carr's future is far less certain.
The Raiders didn't enter their Week 11 matchup against the Cardinals with a 1-8 record solely because of poor quarterback play, but Carr's performances haven't exactly helped matters. With his contract becoming expendable in the near future, there is a very real possibility that Carr won't be with the Raiders when they relocate to Las Vegas.
With all that in mind, let's check in on Gruden and Carr during their game against the Cardinals.
Jon Gruden's exchange with Derek Carr here is certainly something pic.twitter.com/TUp32y1Z1c— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 18, 2018
On the bright side, the scoreboard has the Raiders out in front of the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. On the dark side, Gruden and Carr appeared to be having a very animated conversation as Carr walked off the field before fourth down.
According to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez, Chris Townsend of the Raiders Radio Network reported that Lee Smith, in an attempt to calm down Gruden, "grabbed" him by the neck. However, Townsend doused the fire by adding on Twitter that the incident wasn't a big deal.
Per @townsendradio, Lee Smith "grabbed" Jon Gruden by the neck to calm him down as he got after Derek Carr in heated sideline exchange.— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) November 18, 2018
Stop over blowing Gruden, Carr and Smith on sidelines. Nobody said anyone needed to be restrained. All three were all smiles with each other before the offense went back out! #RaiderNation@BleacherReport@PGutierrezESPN— Chris Townsend (@townsendradio) November 18, 2018
He's not wrong. Quarterbacks and play-callers get into arguments all the time. If Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels yell at each other, less successful quarterbacks and play-callers will certainly yell at each other too. The incident above probably isn't going to be the reason why Gruden decides to move on from Carr -- if that is the path that Gruden chooses to take.
But the incident above does serve as the perfect image to encapsulate the Raiders' season. Without even getting into all of the issues Gruden has experienced in terms of personnel decisions -- like trading away Khalil Mack and signing aging veterans in free agency -- he's also failed to fix Carr, who has developed troubling habits over the course of his career. He fades away from pressure before pressure arrives. He checks the ball down at the first sight of heat. He entered Sunday's game with only 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. We've been talking about and debating his long-term future with the Raiders ever since Week 1. This isn't a new issue that sprung up just because of a sideline argument. This has been building the entire season. Again, the Raiders' demise isn't entirely on him. But he's not helping matters. As a result, especially considering Gruden didn't even draft him, his future with the franchise is in jeopardy.
The good news: The Raiders escaped Arizona with a 23-21 win (during which Carr averaged 6.2 yards per pass attempt) to push their record to 2-8. The bad news: The Cardinals are suddenly even with them in the standings, which could impact the draft order.
Top 3 draft picks now:— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) November 19, 2018
1. 49ers (2-8) [.507 SoS]
2. Cardinals (2-8) [.533 SoS]
3. Raiders (2-8) [.558 SoS]
Even when the Raiders win, they still lose.