Quarterback Derek Carr
Derek Carr just wants his offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to sleep well at night.
The Raiders' starting quarterback is now entering his second season in Musgrave's system, and after enjoying a breakout year in 2015 – he threw for 3,987 yards, 32 touchdowns and earned his first Pro Bowl berth in the process – he's that much more comfortable with what Musgrave is going to ask him to do between the hash marks.
"Last year, I just wanted to learn what he [Musgrave] wanted done, how he wanted it done," said Carr. "There are people that on certain situations want you to do this. Well, what do you want me to do? Learning that, and that's something that takes a lot of time. That went all the way through the year. I had to learn how he wanted things done. That's all I'm trying to do. I just want to run his offense the exact way he wants it so he can go home and sleep good. I want to do it the way he wants it done. Now, it's like he sees that I am trying to do that and we're working together and stuff like that."
Musgrave also spoke to the collaborative nature between him and Carr, and now that his third-year quarterback has a greater understanding of the offensive scheme, he's looking forward to seeing him take more ownership of the system and make it his own.
"I think it helps that he [Carr] doesn't have to learn a new language again," Musgrave explained. "Two years in the league, two different systems, now this year he can feel like he has a good grasp of it and start putting his own spin on things and can put his own signature on the system. Things that he wants to see or tweak a quarter turn here or there, he can initiate that."
And Organized Team Activities [OTAs] are the perfect place for Carr to get a first crack at those tweaks and turns, using the team's 11-on-11 sessions to experiment within the offense and try things he wouldn't otherwise.
"I've been working on throwing the ball on certain routes, like I want to throw it extremely early just to try it, just to test it and see what you can get away with in OTAs because there is nobody out there, games aren't on the line yet," Carr said. "If I think it will make something better, I want to work on it. We've been able to do that a couple of times and see the benefits of having OTAs and that happen."
As impressive as Carr's 2015 campaign was, it's easy to forget that he didn't have the luxury of going through the team's OTAs last season, as he was relegated to the sideline while recovering from a hand injury.
Now though, he's able to take full advantage of the time afforded to him and the team, and for a young quarterback, that time on the field is invaluable.
"Me and T.D., [quarterbacks] coach [Todd] Downing were talking about that," Carr said when asked about last season's OTAs. "I was like, 'Man, it's kind of cool how you guys get together like this and practice in the offseason.' That was tough but I see the importance of it now. I see how important it is, especially in the same offense, same system, to be able to go out there and get these practices in before the mini-camp shows up, before training camp shows up because we can work and tweak little things."
Carr's ability to participate on the field with his teammates isn't beneficial just for him– his presence alone creates positive ripples throughout the offense as a whole.
"It's great, man, just to get a head start on everything," guard Gabe Jackson said about Carr's participation. "To hear the timing with the cadence, or just to know the difference between his voice when he wants to call certain things. It's good we get to start on that early."
Carr showed in 2015 that he possesses all the intangibles to be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL, but perhaps more important than his health or even practice repetitions is his familiarity with Bill Musgrave's offense heading into 2016.