As Derek Carr gets ready to enter his fifth season in the league, his teammates are noticing a change in their franchise quarterback. With Head Coach Jon Gruden — quarterback mastermind — now in the fold, they've seen No. 4 increase his preparation and approach to the game.
Just two seasons ago, the NFL was clamoring and debating whether or not Carr could be the MVP of the league, but as we all know an injury derailed not only his hopes of being awarded the title of MVP, but played a role in the team's demise as well. That season, 2016, Carr was just shy of 4,000 yards, totaling 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a mere six interceptions.
Now far removed from that injury, and with a new offensive system, the expectation is that the former Fresno State Bulldog can return to that level of play, and flourish in Gruden's system.
"Derek looks like a completely different person in my eyes, just from the way he's attacking the game" tight end Jared Cook said Monday. "From the way he's attacking the challenges that Gruden has been giving to him. Every time that Gruden asks him a question, he gets it right, no hesitation. Every time Gruden asks him to get up in front of a meeting room and call out a play, run a play, get to the right check, get to the right audible, he does it every time. That's a responsibility that Derek never had last year. You see a totally different player out of him. He's attacking the game differently mentally and he has a totally different attitude going in to this year."
When Week 1 rolls around Carr will be ready to unleash not only his talent, but the talent of the players around him. This is an offense with a lot of firepower, and there's no reason the unit shouldn't be able to accomplish big things in 2018.
"He's always had really great preparation," wide receiver Amari Cooper said when asked about Carr. "Always one of the first guys up in the morning studying, in the weight room and what not. The only thing that I would say has probably changed is he is more seasoned. He can see the defenses and he'll be better at that."
As any player on the roster or coaching staff will tell you, the team is far from where it needs to be, but the progression and maturity shown in the early going is a promising sign of things to come.
Gruden: "[Jordy Nelson] is just a class act. I wouldn't say he has a lot of vibrato and he's not a guy to raise his hand and he's not real flamboyant, but he is polished. He's a pro. He's helpful to all those guys. I think Coop would tell you that. I think all of our young receivers would tell you. His presence in there, his experience in the slot, at split end, at flanker and big gains with a quarter back like A-Rod (Aaron Rodgers) that can make awkward throws from any platform is a great tool. It's a great resource. He's been sharing that with our guys. I'm really appreciative of that. I think we're getting that in a lot of our meeting rooms."
Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson: "It honestly hasn't felt much different since day one or day two since being with the organization back in April. I think the transition has been extremely smooth, a lot easier than I honestly expected going into the unknown. Once we've gotten into football and into practice, it's been smooth. It's football again, just different guys."