Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr completed 63.8% of his passes for 3937 yards and had 28 touchdowns compared to only 6 interceptions. Carr was in the conversation for league MVP while leading the Raiders to their first playoff appearance in 15 years. Despite all of that his stats should have been even better as PFF noted.
With simply the yards he lost from the point of the dropped passes, Carr could have broken the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. He needed just 63 yards to reach it.
This was the second year in a row that drops prevented Carr from reaching this milestone. In 2015 the Raiders were second in the league with 32 drops behind only Philadelphia (37) and Carr was just 13 yards from hitting 4K. They followed that up with 29 drops last season, which was once again second most in the league behind only the Jets (30).
The wide receiver group has had most of the drops, but the problem did not lie solely with them. Tight ends Clive Walford (4 drops) and Mychal Rivera (2 drops) had issues of their own. Here Walford breaks open on a quick slant only to drop a perfectly placed pass. The frustration can even be seen in running back Latavius Murray.
The running backs drop numbers were not as bad — Jalen Richard had 4, Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington each had only one apiece. To beat teams like the Chiefs the Raiders are going to have to attack the middle of the defense. Getting shifty running backs matched up with interior linebackers should be a mismatch the Raiders can exploit.
The slot receiver can be utilized much in the same way though they are most likely going to be covered by a defensive back. Seth Roberts was second on the team with 5 drops last season. To attack the man coverages of Kansas City and Denver, Seth has to play more consistently. While both teams secondaries have great talent, it is almost impossible for a team to have 3 shut down corners. As the #3 wide receiver, Seth has to produce when Amari and Crabtree are not winning their match ups.
In week 14 the Raiders faced the Kansas city Chiefs with the winner taking control of the race for the Division. Derek Carr had the worst game of his career throwing for a measly 117 yards and a season low 41.5% completion rate.
The loss not only hurt the Raiders chances of winning the division, but it ended any hope Carr had of winning the MVP. Carr had a rough game and his receivers weren’t doing much to help him out. Crabtree and Roberts also had one of their worst games of the year. Here Seth juggles and drops an easy pass on an out route on a crucial third down in the red zone.
Surprisingly after Amari Cooper finished second in the NFL in 2015 with 10 drops (Mike Evens had 11), he only had 3 drops this past season. One of those drops did come at a big moment. Here Amari drops a wide open pass that would have set up a game winning field goal attempt if not have been a touchdown.
Instead the game went to overtime where the Raiders eventually won on Roberts’s walk off game winning 41-yard touchdown.
It wasn’t just the young players, the drops were a team wide phenomenon last season. Michael Crabtree has been known as one of the most sure handed receivers in his career. Something former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had talked about in the past.
"If my life depended on it and somebody had to catch a ball," Harbaugh said after a playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers in 2014, "I'd enlist Michael Crabtree to do it. In the northern snowlands, down to the tropics' sunny scenes, he's catching the football. Where they throw a football, he'll be catching it."
Despite this high praise, even Crabtree had his drop issues last season. He lead league with 9 drops. Here he drops an easy touchdown after getting open on a beautifully run slant route. The exasperation can be seen on Derek Carr’s face and body language.
The offensive line is in place and most of the offense will be returning this season. Carr should finally break that 4,000 yard barrier, if his receivers can put some their drop issues behind them.
Who will be Derek Carr’s most reliable receiver this season?
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