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Raiders Mailbag: How Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota can co-exist


Ryan Arriola asks:

"Can Marcus Mariota get more snaps in the red zone? At least he makes use of the few plays he's had."

Marcus Mariota's very first snap this season was a 31-yard run on the Baltimore Ravens. His last snap at quarterback was a three-yard touchdown run against the Cowboys last Thursday.

There's no doubt that Derek Carr is the unquestionable starting quarterback of this team. But it also seems that they'll start entertaining what Mariota brings to the table. The Raiders signed the Heisman winner to be Carr's backup last season and has had various injuries disrupt the process of involving him more in the offense. With Mariota now at the healthiest he's been since Training Camp, he's a player the Raiders offense could use to diversify what they can do while puzzling defenses.

"[To] be able to have them out there on the field, to be able to do what he does in the run game and things like that, it helps us so much," Carr said about Mariota. "You saw it work in New Orleans with Taysom [Hill] when Drew [Brees] was there and they were still throwing the ball all over the place. And it's helping us do some different things. Again, it makes the defense have to go talk about some other things in their meetings, waste some of their meeting time on this instead of only talking about this, and it's really great because he's one of the best in the league at that. I mean he won a Heisman Trophy doing it.

"So, to have him be able to do those things and help us win football games, I think you guys know me well enough, I don't care how we do it, I just want to win the football game."

In Mariota's five snaps under center this season, he's averaged nine rushing yards per carry. All I can say is – let No. 8 be great.

Johnson Merrill asks:

"Is Darren Waller going to play?"

That's a great question, but it honestly doesn't need an answer at the moment.

After Darren Waller injured his back and knee against the Cowboys, Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia labeled him as "week-to-week," and the Pro Bowl tight end didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. Waller is a vital piece of this offense, I'm not denying that for a second. The reason I say it's a question that doesn't need an answer yet is solely because of what we've seen from Foster Moreau this season.

Even if Waller can't suit up Sunday, Moreau has proven that he can fill the shoes pretty damn well. The last game Waller missed with a last-minute ankle injury, Moreau caught six passes for 60 yards and touchdown. No. 87 has three receiving touchdowns this season, and his blocking skills have been on display, especially last week when he cleared the lane for Josh Jacobs to score. Behind Moreau, Daniel Helm and undrafted rookie Matt Bushman should expect a bigger role on Sunday if Waller can't go.

"Well certainly Foster has fell into this role before where we put a little bit more on his shoulders," said Bisaccia. "Daniel Helm has been dressed and playing the last few weeks and we'll have to see what personnel [offensive coordinator] Greg [Olson] would like to use as we go into the week and what factor our fullback plays in that, or where Bushman plays into those sorts of things as well.

"So, I think that will be a little bit more about what the game plan is going to look like as we get closer to the end of the week."

Erik McKinney said:

"Let's see some interceptions Sunday, make it happen."

The Raiders' passing defense ranks in the top half of the NFL in sacks, quarterback hits and fewest passing yards allowed. However, they are tied for the least amount of interceptions in the league with four.

The Silver and Black have been able to force turnovers though. They've capitalized on a few fumbles, and have 12 takeaways this season. One of the things that's still limiting the defense, though, is their ability to get interceptions and turn them into points. The last interception the Raiders have caught this season was in Week 6 against the Broncos, picking off Teddy Bridgewater three times.

"Earlier in the year, we felt like we had opportunities, we just didn't capture those opportunities," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "Now, you're seeing not as many opportunities have come up to make. I think some of that is [us] affecting the quarterback, working hand-in-hand in tighter coverage in those opportunities. Quarterbacks, we're seeing a lot more quick game. That's the big thing I think that we've seen the last couple weeks is just all the quick game we're seeing even out of the shotgun."

The Raiders return to the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 13 matchup against the Washington Football Team.

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