Raiders' Derek Carr reminding self to 'just have fun' in wake of Jon Gruden's departure

LAS VEGAS -- No player on the roster was more personally affected by Jon Gruden's email scandal and sudden resignation as Las Vegas Raiders coach less than two weeks ago than quarterback Derek Carr.

Because beyond their friendship, Carr had been having his best statistical years with Gruden running things. So Carr compartmentalized.

And he took to writing himself a final reminder at the end of his notes to himself the last two Saturday nights.

Just have fun!

"And I underlined it," Carr said, moving his hand for effect.

"Sometimes you forget that, among a lot of the questions, a lot of the things going on, it's still a game. You've got to remind yourself, 'Have fun when you hit the field.' The last two weeks, I've just tried to remind myself of that."

In the Raiders' 33-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium -- Las Vegas' second straight emotional win after Gruden resigned -- perhaps no one had more fun than Carr.

He completed 31 of 34 passes (his completion percentage of 91.2 is the second-highest in NFL history with a minimum of 30 attempts) for 323 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that bounced off Jalen Richard's hand inside the Eagles' 5-yard line. Carr is the fourth player in NFL history to complete 90-plus percent of his passes and throw for 300-plus yards in the same game, joining Raiders teammate Marcus Mariota, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and Craig Morton.

He led the Raiders offense to 30 straight unanswered points after the Eagles took a 7-0 lead. He reasserted his stranglehold as the face of the franchise with Gruden gone.

And he did it all sans a pair of Pro Bowlers, as tight end Darren Waller was inactive after injuring an ankle late in practice on Friday and running back Josh Jacobs was lost for the second half with a chest injury.

"I just feel like there's not a throw that he can't make, whether it's downfield [or] checking the ball down when he needs to," said running back Kenyan Drake, who spelled Jacobs to rush for 69 yards with a 4-yard TD while catching three passes for 10 yards. Drake was one of nine different Raiders players to catch a pass.

"When you have a quarterback that's cerebral in terms of dissecting the defense -- understanding pre-snap looks, getting us to the exact play, whether we need to get to a pass, we need to get to a run -- it just makes the game flow so much easier. It's almost like having a coach out there on the field. I enjoy playing with him because he has the ability to just be the guy that you can just rely on ... he's just going to get the job done."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was more of a QB coach and buffer between QB and coach with Gruden at the helm. But in his new role as offensive playcaller, Olson has excelled the last two weeks, keeping the Eagles as off-balance as he did the Denver Broncos last week.

The relationship Olson had with Carr before -- he was the OC and playcaller during Carr's rookie season of 2014 -- is simply showing itself, said interim coach Rich Bisaccia.

"I'd say he's pretty close to the next level if you're going to go 31-for-34 and you just said he went [91.2%]," Bisaccia said of Carr. "Again, he's in constant [communication] with Greg, and he's so accurate. He can literally go through an entire Wednesday and Thursday practice and there's possible two or three incompletions ... he's got tremendous accuracy. He's got tremendous command of the offense. He knows where everyone is supposed to be. He's the first one in the building and he's the last one to leave.

"His preparation, I've been around a lot of good quarterbacks, but his preparation is second to none. I think he plays like he prepares."

The fear, then, is this: Carr admitted he really hasn't had a chance to "process everything" in the wake of Gruden's departure, so might the bye give the Cerebral One too much time to, well, think, and marinate in it?

"I need some time, you know?" Carr said with a hearty exhale.

"It was literally, Oh, shoot, oh, uh. Next game. It was kind of weird like that. Again, it wasn't like we were 0-6 and you saw something coming. It was just a surprise. So, I think, with the injuries, with everything our team has been through, this bye week couldn't come at a better time."

And as Carr said, the Raiders talked their two-game winning streak and first-place standing in the AFC West into existence.


"We have to be 5-2 at the bye," Carr recounted as the message. "Let's get some rest, get healthy and then let's go on a run."

And have some fun along the way.

"Winning is what makes it fun," Carr said. "But I think the guys are making plays and the expression, the swagger that our guys are showing, is coming out, and it's fun."