HENDERSON, Nevada (AP) – Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden doesn’t want any negativity, nor does he want it anywhere near his raiders.
“There’s enough of that in politics, in our social world right now, and we’re here to try and create a positive Las Vegas vibe and have some fun here,” Gruden said on Wednesday.
And in the Las Vegas-themed NFL, there may be nothing but big games electrifying a sold-out audience.
The Raiders are 2-0, in large part due to an improved defense that plays in time and puts the football back in the hands of quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr is equally responsible for making Las Vegas one of two undefeated teams in the AFC alongside Denver. Eight-year veteran QB has the most passing games over 20 yards or more with 12 apiece with Tom Brady of Tampa Bay.
And seven of Carr’s dozen passes were actually thrown 20 yards or more, second only to Arizona’s Kyler Murray, 8.
In 2020, Carr completed with 16 completions of 20 yards.
“We still have a lot of areas to clean up, but yes, I mean, when you name a game that works, be it a switch to short distances or a goal line conversion or a long, big game, you have to be upset,” said Gruden . “There’s enough negativity out there to kill any rat right now. So I’m excited when we make a good game, especially a big game in an explosive game. “
Carr’s Pass leads the NFL at 817 yards, well ahead of Murray, who is runner-up at 689 yards.
What’s even more impressive is that Carr’s numbers come from the game behind a patchwork offensive line that’s been understaffed since the start of the season. Carr was under pressure and flashed 29 times – the second highest in the league – from two of the league’s tougher defensive units from Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Better known for checkdowns earlier in his career, Carr has played with more confidence while trying to get the ball into the field.
“I just try to do it the best I can and the way coach Gruden does it,” said Carr. “We’re lucky that our defense is at such a high level. We were able to shoot a few shots, take some risks, and it was nice that some of them worked for us. “
It even worked out fine.
According to SportRadar, Carr’s average pass has traveled 8.9 meters past the scrimmage limit, more than two meters from its 2019 average when it ranked near the bottom of the league.
With a stable of goals and a star running Josh Jacobs back on the mend, the passing game has shown the depth of the raiders.
“There’s a lot to work with with the variety of offense that we have,” said Carr. “If something might not go the way we wanted, then maybe we go to this, or we have this, we can tap into that, and I still feel like there are some things we couldn’t do but I like to show that. “
Carr’s top target, Darren Waller, is shared among five others with the league’s second-highest 15 receptions.
Fast wideout Henry Ruggs scored a crucial 61-yard scoring pass against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and do-it-all receiver Zay Jones opened a 31-yard TD in overtime against Baltimore.
Bryan Edwards gives Carr another option with a longer and more physical frame and ranks 13th in the league with an average depth of 15.0 yards when targeted.
Hunter Renfrow’s fearless demeanor has made him a preferred target on third downs. He’s shown a knack for catching anything thrown in his way, even under a blanket.
And then there is the Kenyan Drake, who counted 87 yards after the catch, proving that his role in the backcourt is much more than just a handover.
“We’re a very good football team,” said Carr. “We definitely feel that way, but feeling that way and actually going out and winning football games are two different things. So we don’t want to rest in what we’ve done, we want to look ahead and hopefully stay hungry because honestly it doesn’t matter how many games we win. It is still not enough. And that’s the way of thinking, it’s not enough to get into the dance and win the last game.
“And I think that’s the culture that coach Gruden was trying to create here, and I think it’s something that we’ve bought into and that we can hopefully keep throughout the season.”
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