How Derek Carr made the improvements he did between year one to year two of his NFL career was impressive. Though many of his work was on his own technique, he had to make those leaps while also learning an entirely new scheme - something he also had to do as a rookie.
Scrapping the college playbook for an NFL playbook is one of the toughest tasks a quarterback will ever experience. Next up would probably be making the leap into his second season after the rest of the NFL has learned his tendencies and absorbing an entirely new playbook.
Finally, for the first time in his NFL career, he will see the same system and the same terminology in the offseason, which means we could see him realize more of his potential.
"I think it helps that he doesn't have to learn a new language," said offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. "Two years in the league, two different systems. Now this year he can feel like he's got a good grasp of it and start to put his own spin on things. He can put his own signature on the system and things that he wants to see and tweak a quarter turn here and there. He can initiate that."
"It's been huge," Derek Carr said of coaching continuity. "We did something today down in the red zone that we haven't even installed yet, but we just checked to it and went with it because we're already at that point. Everyone celebrated and it was awesome and it was cool, but at the same time, we wouldn't have been able to do that last year because we didn't know the checks, we didn't know versus certain looks we wanted to do certain things and stuff like that. Just little things like that we're already a step ahead."
Carr isn't the only one who will be able to take advantage of the familiarity of a returning staff. His receivers will also be able to settle into the new scheme as well as their familiarity with each other.
Chemistry can't be understated. There are intricacies and tendencies that quarterbacks and receivers share. Carr got off to a good start with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree last season before production waned in the second half of the season. Cooper had a nagging ankle injury and struggled with uncharacteristic drops and Crabtree also wasn't putting up the production he had early in the season.
It was the other way around for tight end Clive Walford, who missed much of camp with an injury, which had him get a slow start to the season. By late in the season, he began to show his potential.
The team expects Walford's momentum to continue and the entire passing game to click heading into this season. Anything less would be a disappointment for their head coach.
"For the guys the system not changing, understanding some of the nuances now, some of the combinations blocks, the routes with the quarterback and some of the reps that he's had, some of the concepts, they should be much crisper at executing those things," said Jack Del Rio. "It should add up. You should take a step [forward], take advantage of the familiarity that you have with the staff returning and the majority of the players returning."
That process is still in its early stages as the team is currently in their second OTA session. They will have two more days in this session, four days next week, and then their three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June before their 6-week break.
At which point I wouldn't expect to see some advanced chemistry between staff, QB, and receivers.