Jon Gruden: Derek Carr is a 'great quarterback,' 'very pleased and proud' of his season

Derek Carr is completing a career-high 68.4 percent of his passes but over the first month and a half of the season he was one of the league's most inconsistent quarterbacks. It wasn't entirely his fault; he was playing in first-year coach Jon Gruden's offense and with one of the least dynamic rosters in the NFL. Through six games, Carr was sacked 17 times and threw seven touchdowns and interceptions.

But since the Raiders' Week 6, Carr has thrown exactly zero interceptions while tossing 12 touchdowns. Oakland is just 2-7 over that time but that's less about Carr and more to do with just about everything else. For example: Khalil Mack has 12.5 sacks for the Bears; the Raiders -- as a team -- have 12 sacks. Not great. Also not great: Carr has been sacked 30 times since Week 8.

"I think he's hanging in there," Gruden said, via NBCSports.com, of Carr, who had never been sacked more than 31 times in a season before 2018. "No question, I am sure he is sore. He knows he is carrying us right now on offense. That's what a franchise quarterback is paid to do, but we are doing everything we can to support him, to try and put him in position to audible at the line of scrimmage, fix problems, and move the football and ultimately win games. He really has had us in position to win a lot of these games. It's a credit to him."

Unfortunately, the Raiders traded away No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper and No. 1 running back Marshawn Lynch landing on injured reserve after six games. There's also the offensive line.

"I think Derek has played great," Gruden continued. "Somebody told me he had 3,700 yards and 68 percent completions in 13 games. That's astonishing. With three new guards, losing a right tackle, a featured back, three top receivers. The guy is a hell of a player. The guy is a great quarterback. We are very pleased and proud of what he has done. We know we got to get better around him, and that we will."

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But there is good news: Oakland has three first-round picks and if Gruden truly is happy with Carr (and he sure sounds like it), a legit MVP candidate just two seasons ago, the team can focus on myriad other needs in the offseason. In our most recent mock draft, here's who we have the Raiders taking:

No. 2: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State No. 22: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama No. 27: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

It's unlikely any team not picking first overall will land Bosa but if the Raiders can grab an edge rusher, solidify the defense, and maybe even add a downfield playmaker, it's reasonable to expect them to be much closer to .500 than they were in Gruden's inaugural season after a decade away from the game. And if Carr has proven himself, the Raiders have him under contract through 2022 for an average of $25 million a season.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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