Given all the buzz over the past several years, one would suspect that the relationship between Raiders coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr was rocky at best. For pretty much Gruden's entire second go-around as the Raiders' coach, rumors have persisted that Carr's future with the Raiders was in doubt.
While those rumors never picked up traction, the relationship between Gruden and Carr has. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock recently said as much as his team prepares to open training camp.
"They're definitely on the same page. Derek is even finishing Jon's sentences now," Mayock said, via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's like a corny marriage. It's really funny."
A legendary workaholic, Gruden quickly turned the Raiders from a directionless franchise into a respectable outfit. After a 4-12 first season, Gruden's team went 7-9 in 2019 and 8-8 in 2020. The next step is to get the Raiders back into the playoffs for the first time since 2016. That year, Carr was having an MVP-caliber season before an injury prematurely ended his -- and ultimately the Raiders' -- season. Carr rebounded by earning his third consecutive Pro Bowl berth in 2017.
He has not added to his Pro Bowl tally since Gruden's arrival, but Carr has nevertheless enjoyed a career rebirth over the past two seasons. He completed a career-high 70.4% of his passes in 2019 while topping 4,000 yards for a second straight year. Last fall, Carr threw for a career-high 4,103 yards while throwing three times as many touchdowns (27) as interceptions (nine). Carr also passed Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler for the franchise career record for touchdown passes.
"I don't know if Derek has a photographic memory or not, but his memory is mind-boggling," Mayock said of his quarterback. "Jon puts a lot on his plate and he handles it seamlessly. The two seasons I've been here, he's gotten better each year. I'm excited to see where he can take this thing."
The team's general manager since 2019, Mayock has given Carr a solid support system. The Raiders' deep receiving corps is led by Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller, second-year wideout Henry Ruggs III and third year veteran Hunter Renfrow. This offseason, Mayock brought in Willie Snead, an accomplished veteran who became a reliable target for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. Mayock also acquired former Dolphins/Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake to team up with Josh Jacobs. In the draft, the Raiders selected center Alex Leatherwood, who last fall played an integral role on Alabama's record-setting offense.
Carr and his teammates will have the luxury of playing in front of a capacity crowd at Allegiant Stadium after playing in front of empty seats during their first season in Las Vegas. The 30-year-old quarterback is hoping to make it a season Las Vegas fans won't soon forget.
"My goal when I got here was to give everything I have to this organization, let our fans know that I'm giving it all that I have, and I will always continue to do that on-season, offseason and whether the situation is great or not, that's okay," Carr said earlier this offseason, via the team's website. "People can say whatever they want. I know what I've put on film. I know the things I've been able to accomplish and I still want more. There's still more and I want to do it here. I don't want to do it anywhere else."