Another one point victory for the Raiders and I’m not sure how many of these nail-biters I can take. The Raiders are going to have to pay for my heart medication. Don’t get me wrong though, the wins are worth it. Offensively, the Raiders did not have a great outing, but they rose up to the occasion when they needed to against a very strong and well-coached Ravens defense.
Once again, the protection has been amazing. Carr was only pressured seven out of 35 pass attempts and four of those pressures were slight. Vandal Alexander filling in at RT did not have a great game committing three penalties, but he was servicable and looks like he might be able to play the position with more grooming.
The Ravens attempt to bring pressure by bringing six and the Raiders are able to match with six-man half slide right protection, meaning everyone but the left tackle will slide to the gap on their right while the left tackle blocks the end and the running gap fills in the B-gap. Jalen Richard has done well in pass protection and does a really nice job of meeting the linebacker and stopping him in his tracks.
Aside from one 28 yard run from Deandre Washington, the running game was mostly non-existent. The Ravens have one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league in Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams. The Raiders offensive line was so concerned with double teaming them that they left pro bowl linebacker CJ Mosley unblocked for most of the game and he flew around and made plays.
Here the line has to commit three blockers to two defensive tackles and still struggle to get movement, which frees CJ Mosley to make the tackle. This happened throughout most of the day and the Raiders struggled to sustain drives without the aid of a running game.
The first touchdown was set up an excellent punt return by Jalen Richard. He’s such an upgrade over the inconsistent Taiwan Jones. The Raiders start in a doubles formation with the tight end, Lee Smith, wide to the left and stacked twins to the right. Smith motions over and the Raiders run one of their favorite concepts, which is a roll right with a deep smash concept. The Raiders run this concept often and Musgrave did a good job of disguising it. This is where we will miss Smith because he does all the dirty-work like set the edge on roll-outs. It seems like a simple assignment but it’s not easy to stalemate an outside linebacker that is lined up outside while your quarterback rolls outside. But Smith does his job admirably. Roberts is running a corner route and even though the coverage is good, Carr puts the ball in a place where only Roberts could get it.
The Ravens are in a quarters coverage or playing banjo coverage (in and out man) on Roberts and Crabtree because the corner on Crabtree’s eyes are on Roberts. Roberts runs a shoot route and Carr’s slight look that way caused the corner to hesitate, allowing Crabtree to get behind him. Again, Carr places the ball in a spot one Crabtree could get.
Cooper Back Shoulder
If you’ve read my previous work, I’ve talked a lot about how Carr needs to add the back shoulder throw to his arsenal and so far this season it seems that he has added it. Cooper is in the slot and is matched up on a small corner (#36 Jarraud Powers). The Ravens are in Cover-3 Liz which means that Powers is going to essentially play man to man on any vertical route. The Raiders run a four verticals concept and Powers does a good job of defending the seam, but plays too far to the inside. Carr sees that and throws the ball to a spot where Cooper can turn around and use his body to protect the ball. The ball could have been placed a little more to the outside, but it’s a nice completion regardless.
The Final Drive
Carr has taken criticism for checking down the ball too much and at times he could play conservative. Carr said in an interview this week that Coach Del Rio has talked to him about not having to make every throw and that he’s learning to pick his spots. So far this season, his new mindset has only led to one interception and no fumbles from Carr. Good quarterback play is knowing when you have to be aggressive and knowing when you have to rely on your teammates. There should be no doubt that when he wants to be aggressive, he’s one of the best in the league and on this final drive he proved it.
Carr began the game-winning drive with a really well thrown ball on a high-lo concept to Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is having quite the two game stretch routinely taking the ball away from defenders and making life easy on Carr and on this play Carr rewards him by protecting him. Carr places the ball away from a defender that could put a big hit on him. The throw is also thrown in between three defenders and is a very aggressive throw in a tight window.
I don’t think the route to Crabtree was a route that was game-planned. It might have been improvised by Crabtree and Carr on that final drive. This play happened a couple of plays before the game-winning touchdown. It’s a four verticals concept that Carr threw to Walford. On the play, Crabtree threw a move outside before running a fade. Crabtree said after the game that the Ravens corner were playing him outside leverage for most of the game. Crabtree has made a living on running out routes this season so it makes sense for the Ravens to take that route away. Crabtree was open on this play but Carr did not throw to him.
A couple of plays later, the Raiders go into same formation with Walford and Crabtree on the right side. The Ravens play the same quarters coverage. This time Walford runs a short route and Crabtree runs his fade with an outside move. The corner bites hard again and Carr has to throw the ball over the safeties head without leading Crabtree out of bounds.
This throw had to be thrown with the perfect trajectory into the perfect spot and Carr is able to do it. Carr said in an interview, he told Crabtree not to stop because he knew he would have to get past the safety against that type of coverage.
It is that ability to coach up his teammates and to think and execute under that type of pressure is why I believe that Derek Carr has become an elite quarterback. There are a lot of things that he could improve on, but you can’t teach clutch.