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Here at the sports desk located below the Good Pirate Ship RedState decks, in-between refereeing arguments between Sammy the Shark and Karl the Kraken, we keep tabs on real life in addition to scores and such. Sometimes, people lose sight that there are human beings underneath uniforms.
In the retail day job held by yours truly, before the Raiders left Oakland for the second time, this time for Las Vegas, one of our regular customers was Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. I knew who he was but never bothered him for an autograph, as he was shopping for various sporting equipment for his kids. He was unfailingly one of the nicest people you could dream of meeting — an absolute pleasure to help. When the Raiders took their act to Sin City, even more than kvetching over the team I grew up with — living and dying for when I was a lad — once more skipping out of the area (this time doubtless for good), I lamented the fact that Carr would move with them and no longer be a customer.
The news that the Las Vegas Raiders have told Carr not to let the door hit him on the way out reveals far more about the pathetic organization than Carr’s ability. I reference Baker Mayfield, who, in one month of working with Sean McVay and the Rams, has proven himself to be every bit worthy of the #1 draft pick he was in 2018. Did anyone who watched Mayfield perform miserably with the Carolina Panthers earlier this season believe he was capable of the superb play he has demonstrated? Here, let me answer that for you: NO.
The Raiders’ current regime of head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, both plucked from the New England Patriots organization, have done nothing to disprove the belief that, as is the case with Bill Belichick, the only thing “genius” about the Patriots during their lengthy championship-laden run was Tom Brady. McDaniels’ utter inability to design an offense around what he has is amply demonstrated week after week. Add this to a defense excelling in crumbling under pressure, and tell me again how Las Vegas’ misery is Carr’s fault.
In a twist of bitter irony, the team whose victory over the Raiders on November 13th, namely the Indianapolis Colts, is not only a possible destination for Carr in 2024 but easily the best option for both him and the Colts. Here’s why.
Teammates: Setting aside the Colts’ utter miseries at quarterback this year, there is ability on the team. The receiving corps is not nearly as bad as feared and, while upgrades are possible, is something from which a quarterback of Carr’s ability can get solid production. The running game is top-notch, led by Jonathan Taylor. The offensive line is in injury-caused disarray, but Indianapolis will undoubtedly address that this coming off-season. Indianapolis’ defense is solid, and should it have an offense that will let them rest once in a while and not have to pitch a shutout to have a chance at victory, good things would happen.
Culture: Carr is a man of deep faith. That made him an outlier in the San Francisco Bay Area and even more so in Las Vegas. Indianapolis and Indiana are far more receptive to believers and their families.
Coaching / Front Office: Yes, Colts owner Jim Irsay is a free spirit. He also is committed to winning. A refreshed and motivated Carr would be most welcome. Who the Colts will have on their coaching staff, or even as their general manager, come next season is anyone’s guess. Still, it’s no guess that if Carr is the quarterback, all parties involved will be selected and directed to build around his strengths as a drop-back passer. Which, as I recall, has worked quite well for Indianapolis.
Having lived for a time in Indiana and with deep family roots there, even though I am a Rams fan, I root passionately for the Colts as well. And, as noted earlier, I am a Derek Carr fan. My fervent hope is that he will waive his no-trade clause in case the Raiders don’t cut him at year’s end, let go of his stated desire to never play for another team, and go to a team where all parties involved will genuinely appreciate his presence.