Derek Carr taking advantage of Raiders' receiver depth
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio says the recipe for a good quarterback comes down to two things: decision-making and accuracy.
Derek Carr has already shown significant progress in both areas, along with an increased willingness to throw the deep pass.
Oakland's second-year quarterback is coming off back-to-back 300-yard games in which he threw touchdowns to four different receivers while completing 64 percent of his passes. Carr's quarterback rating of 102.4 is also the seventh-highest in the NFL, better than that of Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.
Wide receiver Andre Holmes credits Carr's willingness to spread the ball around for the team's early success.
''The offense is built so that's there's multiple options on every play,'' Holmes said Tuesday. ''Most offenses are like that but we're just executing really well and finding our third read. DC's doing a great job of finding the open man due to his progression. So now you've got all of us making plays and that's helping him gain a lot of confidence.''
Carr has already completed passes to 13 different receivers. First-round pick Amari Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree have garnered the most attention but backups like Holmes and Seth Roberts are also making an impact.
Roberts spent all of 2014 on Oakland's practice squad but came on to catch the game-winning touchdown with 26 seconds left in the Raiders' come-from-behind win over Baltimore in Week 2. He caught another touchdown last week against Cleveland and had a pivotal 36-yard catch and run to help set up a second score.
''Seth's been making big plays all offseason and training camp so now he's gaining Derek's trust that he's going to make a play for him,'' Holmes said. ''Really, what I'm seeing is a lot of teams are playing us man-to-man. It's not even people keeping eyes on Amari or Crab. It's just more we're beating other teams when they're going man-to-man on us.''
Holmes is third on Oakland's depth chart after being the team's No. 2 receiver averaging nearly 15 yards a catch in 2014.
His status now puts Holmes in much more favorable matchups while Roberts has likewise benefited from the defensive focus on Cooper and Crabtree.
''It's their best corners trying to man up on Amari or Crab, as opposed to last year when I would get the starting corner,'' Holmes said. ''Now when I go in I might go against the nickel. He's still a good corner but it's a better matchup for me.''
Carr is using the depth of his receivers to spread defenses out more, as well. He is averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt, which is 2.6 yards more than he did as a rookie. Additionally, Carr has already completed three passes of 40 yards or longer after doing it just seven times in 2014.
A second-round pick a year ago, Oakland's quarterback has shown his biggest improvement under pressure.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Carr has completed 73 percent of his passes (14 of 19) for 243 yards and two touchdowns when opposing defenses blitz. That works out to a quarterback rating of 150.7.
''He makes good decisions and he is accurate passing the football,'' Del Rio said. ''We just want to continue to grow that.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL