Quarterback Derek Carr
If Derek Carr had a relatively quiet first two games of the preseason, he came roaring back Saturday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Raiders starting quarterback played just over one half of football against the Tennessee Titans, and while the team eventually fell to the Titans 27-14, Carr was impressive, as he finished the night 12 of 18 for 169 yards, and a pair of touchdowns.
"I was really excited to finally watch some film, and get some tendencies down, and really game plan as much as you do in the preseason, and go out there with that kind of mindset," said Carr postgame. "It was nice to do that this week, and to go out and score some points. It was nice. It was good to move the ball, and show what we've been working on just a little bit, but we're going to be playing them here again in a few weeks, so we can't show too much."
Saturday evening's performance – while hands down his best of the preseason – was also reminiscent of the 2015 version of Carr, where he threw for nearly 4,000 yards, tallied 32 touchdowns, and earned his first berth in the Pro Bowl.
"We were very explosive, and that's what we want to do," said wide receiver Andre Holmes. "Last week, we didn't really make any type of plays, and this week, you saw – especially in the first half – the explosiveness that we have all over the offense."
Holmes is right, as the explosiveness of the Raiders offense was on full display throughout the first half, as the group was able to pick up yards in chunks, and not only did they find the end zone twice, Carr was able to get a multitude of his offensive weapons involved.
When Carr's evening ended with just over 10:00 left in the third quarter, he had connected with eight different receivers, and Holmes believes that ability to spread the ball around is one of the offense's best traits.
"That's where you see the growth of 'DC,'" Holmes explained. "He makes great reads. He does a lot of studying throughout the week, and all the best offenses in the NFL, they don't just have one, go-to player. They spread the ball around, and the quarterback has confidence in everybody on the offense. That's just going to make everything go more smoothly, and that's what DC is doing."
Outside of one sack – the first the team allowed all preseason – Carr was given ample time to operate from the pocket, and looked calm and collected as he commanded the offense.
"He [Carr] is a great quarterback," said guard Gabe Jackson. "Every game, every year, to me, he's stepping up his level of play. That's a good thing to see."
In the team's first two games of the preseason – against the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers respectively – Carr looked solid, although he wasn't able to find the end zone in either matchup. However, even though his efforts might not have been statistically impressive, Head Coach Jack Del Rio was never concerned about the productivity of the Raiders starting quarterback.
"I think [Carr] he was very successful throughout this offseason, and camp, and everything," Head Coach Del Rio said. "I think it's been a tremendous offseason for him. I feel really good about where he is. I think the fact that maybe other people can relax a little bit around him, maybe that helps. For us, we have, and we know that he's had a tremendous offseason. I think you saw a couple examples of what we've been seeing."
And Saturday Carr made sure everyone saw what he's capable of, and what he's turning into – a dynamic young quarterback, who has the ability to attack opposing defenses in a variety of ways.
Granted the final score of the game didn't matter, but Saturday's performance by Carr in front of the team's home fans, certainly put a nice bow on his 2016 preseason, as the team continues their march towards its Week 1 matchup with the New Orleans Saints.