Recently, the analytic website Pro Football Focus quantified what most Raiders fans already knew:
In 2017, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr’s receivers weren’t as good as they should have been.
Pro Football Focus noted that Carr’s receivers dropped 35 catchable passes, the second highest total in the NFL behind only the 43 drops by receivers targeted by Eli Manning of the Giants. The 35 drops by Carr’s receivers was a total shared with the 35 drops from Chargers receivers. The other top-five drop totals were 34 (by targets of Matt Ryan of the Falcons) and 31 (by targets of Russell Wilson of the Seahawks).
Last season, Carr – who slumped after a big 2016 season – put the blame on himself.
“I got to throw the ball better,” he told reporters. “The drops, it’s got to be something to do with me. I got to throw it better. I got to put it on them, better timing, it’s on me. It’s on me to get that fixed and I’m going to work to do that.”
The Raiders have made some changes to their receiving corps for 2018, bringing in veterans ex-Packer Jordy Nelson and ex-Steeler Martavis Bryant, drafting Marcel Ateman and cutting ties with Michael Crabtree and Cordarelle Patterson.
But as Levi Damien of SB Nation pointed out Monday, of the four Raiders who had the most dropped passes in 2017, three remain on the roster: wide receiver Amari Cooper with 10, tight end Jared Cook with six and wideout Seth Roberts with four.
Nelson could be a strong addition. In 2017, he dropped just two catchable passes.
Head coach Jon Gruden said there are many reasons for a high total of dropped passes, but he believes the Raiders will improve in 2018 because it will be an area of concern to be worked on.
“You have to catch the football,” Gruden told Damien. “We have to catch the ball better. We have to improve. Our receivers have to rise up, play better than they’ve ever played. We’ve made changes there in this corps and they have to obviously take the torch and run with it.”