The Raiders Realist
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FSM Presents: The Raiders Realist – It Is Not Elementary, Dear Watson

Franchise Sports Media



“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” Russian proverb


The Raiders realist
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It seems like there is a theme every offseason since the 2017 season ended in regards to the Las Vegas Raiders. That is the speculation surrounding quarterback Derek Carr. More to the point, that he is not THE quarterback that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden truly wants. There has been a variation on this theme for three years now.

And so it comes as little surprise in 2021 that there is another rumor swirling like dust in a tornado. This time, it is the talented Deshaun Watson, tentatively still of the Houston Texans. His current franchise is in the midst of dysfunction that only a long time Raiders fan can truly appreciate.

The prospect of Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock teaming up to acquire a talent like Watson has a pretty big portion of Raider Nation all in. It is not their desire to acquire a player the caliber of Watson that is bothersome though. It is the undercurrent of many who just want change to come at the expense of Derek Carr leaving.


I can understand the frustration to a certain extent. I mean, in my now 35 years of watching this team, I have had to watch guys like Marc Wilson, Jay Schroeder, JaMarcus Russell, and everyone’s favorite August quarterback, the preseason legend Matt McGloin under center. The alternative always seems nice, until you see that there’s a reason why the alternative is available. Being a fan of a losing franchise is like being stuck in a bad marriage at times.


The Raiders Realist
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The problem is, objectively speaking, Derek Carr is not only not a bad quarterback, but he’s also actually a pretty good one. There was more than circumstantial evidence to suggest he was a top 10 quarterback in 2020. I am on record as saying such. The production matched all the deep cut stats people look at when measuring the position.

Does this mean he is better than Deshaun Watson? No. But the measure with which people say it as if it is an obvious dismissal is a bit over the top. And gets to the heart of the problem I have with not just the speculation, but the actual idea that the Raiders not only would, but some would say should part with lots of capital to acquire Watson. But I digress for now.

No, I am going to start with the slightly less obvious (to some) reason this does not make a world of sense to me right now. The Raiders currently are not ready to be a contender. Period. They are not a 2017 Chiefs or 2011 Broncos that were a quarterback away from being a legitimate contender.

So the notion that you can undercut the building process to fast track a way to elite status that can be sustained is a bit of a fallacy. Especially when one of the pieces people are speaking about is the one single blue chip talent the franchise possesses in tight end Darren Waller. He should absolutely be untouchable in any type of discussion. Whoever the quarterback is, they are going to want a top 2-3 tight end talent to throw the ball to. And the idea of just giving away draft picks because the team has not had a great track record of hitting on them, I mean would you just accept less on your paycheck because someone told you that you were bad with money? It makes no sense to give away capital for no reason.


That is one thing. The other is the gigantic silver and black elephant in the room taking up all the space and stinking the place up. That is the Raiders defense.


The Raiders Realist
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The reason that capital I just spoke of matters. You know, the one I reminded you the last time you heard from me that was the single worst in the history of the franchise. Unless Deshaun Watson is going to channel his inner Chuck Bednarik and start playing 60 minutes, spending multiple first-round draft picks and potential players to acquire him does nothing to fix the biggest problem by far the Raiders face in the present and future.

Which brings me back to Derek Carr. The quarterback who in seven years has not had one defense allow under 23 points a game. The two years Watson went to the playoffs, his defense averaged 21.8 points allowed. In the two years he missed the playoffs, they allowed 28.1. Feeds right into what I said about how even supposedly elite quarterbacks are not offsetting bad defense and what do you know? Watson was 7-15 in those two years (meanwhile, Carr was 15-17 with a defense allowing 28 points per game in 2019 and 2020).

The counter-argument is that Watson is a bridge to the future and would help to buy time for an improved defense. Except, that does not make sense on multiple levels. One, his contract will be almost double what Carr will be paid in 2022 and despite his prodigious talents, Watson’s team scored 68 fewer points than Carr’s did in 2020.

It is not apples to oranges, but that is precisely the point. The upgrade is a marginal one and more importantly, to the wrong element of the roster. There is much more of a likelihood the Raiders become a West Coast version of the team Watson is potentially leaving in Houston. Whoever Watson gets dealt to is much more likely to be in a win-now mode I am not sure the Raiders will be ready to enter after one offseason.


And that is the brass tacks of all this. It is not a condemnation of Deshaun Watson, nor an affirmation of Derek Carr in the sense that there is a preference for one over the other.


The Raiders Realist
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If the Raiders went ahead and acquired Watson, I would root for his success just as hard. That is not the point. The point is, as it has largely been the last now 19 years, the Raiders as a franchise will not rise until they have a defense that isn’t just hoping to hold teams to field goals. Admit it, you watched that team last year knowing the victory would be holding an opposing offense to a field goal. That is a bar so low you can’t limbo under it.

For Derek Carr, it has been an unwinnable standard. For any other quarterback, it would be a variation of the same theme we have seen the last two decades. I don’t care if a Madden create a player named Joe Brady Manning was the Raiders quarterback, if you do not give him a defense, you will be giving him losses.


If this was a mystery, it would not require Sherlock Holmes to solve it. But the Raiders are not Sherlock and in this case, they don’t need Watson. Just a steady Carr and an improved defense.

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