ALAMEDA – The Raiders didn't throw deep too often last year. And no, that wasn't always on quarterback Derek Carr.
He didn't push the ball downfield regularly because they essentially had no breakaway speed at receiver and trouble protecting off the edge, making deep shots particularly hazardous. Working with turnover-averse Jon Gruden running the offense, letting it rip was relatively rare.
Carr was good at it when he did go yard, but that didn't happen at ton.
He'll aim deep a lot more this year because, as Gruden says, he has the personnel to do it.
"When you have Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, you have to commit yourself to throwing (50-50 balls). Same with Darren Waller," Gruden said. "We have to throw the ball down the field. Whether it's incomplete or it's a catch, or we can always challenge pass interference as well. It's going to be a very subjective call this year.
"We're trying to be more aggressive. The better your receivers are, the more aggressive you are. The better your line is, the more vertical shots you can call. We think we're better on the line. We think we're better outside. That being said, we're going to take more shots. I hope."
Carr has a strong arm and an accurate deep ball, with a penchant for trusting his guys until they get the offense in trouble. He has great confidence in Brown, obviously, and Williams to make contested catches down the field. Waller, and even J.J. Nelson, have shown an ability to adjust in the air and make big plays in traffic.
Carr has been solid during this preseason, and seems primed for a big year in his second season under Gruden.
"He has great rapport with his receivers," Gruden said. "He has shown a lot of leadership and command. The better our defense plays, the better our line and receivers play, the better he'll be.
"I just hope I don't screw it up."