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Raiders Film Study Week 1: Derek Carr to Jared Cook connection

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The home opener against the Rams resulted in a loss for the Oakland Raiders. A loss is always a bad result but the final score doesn’t reflect how close the game truly was.

There were some promising things to see on tape and it is clear that Gruden’s offense can be potent and damaging to opponents.

Derek Carr has officially found his favorite target, much to the chagrin of Amari Cooper fantasy owners. Carr hit Cook for a Raiders franchise record 180 yards receiving by a Tight End. The Raiders came into the game ready to exploit the mismatches that Cook gave them. It only took the first series before this strategy paid off.

Give credit to Derek Carr for getting the offense into the best call for the situation. The Rams started the game with a linebacker covering Cook. The impending blitz and “corner over” (Peters and Talib on the same side) are solid clues for Carr to expect man coverage. This turns into simple math and Jared Cook is the clearest mismatch. Carr delivers the ball to Cook in stride and the talented tight end does the rest.

This is an exciting play for Raiders fans because it shows the command Carr has of the offense and the freedom he has to change the play at the line. Carr also checked into the Marshawn Lynch touchdown run when he saw the defense out of position.

On this play late in the first quarter, Carr again thwarts a blitz by tossing it to his favorite safety blanket; Jared Cook. Cook has the “hot” route for this exact situation and when Carr processes the all-out blitz he gets it to the tight end across the middle.

At this point in the game Jared Cook is almost always being covered by a safety. Raiders call a play-action pass that freezes the linebackers for just enough time to make them late in coverage. Cook runs down the seam and sells post with a hard inside step before breaking to the sideline. The move affords Cook just enough space to haul in a contested catch.

When Cook makes dazzling plays Carr tries to force it to him. Despite perfect coverage being played by the Rams safety assigned to Cook, Carr still throws it up. This throw is almost universally panned as an underthrown ball by Carr. Raiders fans would also like to see Cook go up for 50/50 balls like this—not the best effort from Cook.

Carr and Cook hook up again in the 4th quarter to get into the redzone. This time Cook is running a deep cross. Usually this route is thrown to the opposite side of the field, but Carr trusts Cook to make an adjustment and threads the needle in the middle of the defense. We see how hard it is for defensive backs to get Cook on the ground when he has room to run after the catch.

Too bad Carr tosses another inexplicable interception directly after this play. Cook was the lone bright spot in the passing game and is giving Carr a reliable weapon while he gets acclimated to Gruden’s offense. That being said Carr forced it to Cook more than a few times which resulted in 2 interceptions.

The coming weeks should see a lot of production from Carr to Cook. Raiders fans will be pleased if Cook continues to dominate the stat sheet. Most playoff teams get great production from their Tight Ends, Cook has the chance to make that happen in Oakland.