The Las Vegas Raiders were dealt a major blow in Week 15 after quarterback Derek Carr was sidelined on just the second drive of the game.
Although the Raiders may have come up short in their 30-27 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, backup quarterback Marcus Mariota showed plenty of promise by leading four scoring drives.
Unfortunately, the Chargers’ offense was able to respond with some key scores of their own with the last one sealing the deal. Regardless, head Coach Jon Gruden is happy to see the offense respond in ideal fashion.
Gruden credited Mariota for stepping up big when the team needed it most, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez:
“It just shows the kind of player, the kind of football character he has,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Mariota. “You lose Derek, and then we change gears offensively. And Marcus came in and did a great job. Really proud of him. I think that this kind of puts an exclamation point on why we signed him and just wish we could have won the game for him.”
Gruden added that he may need to fine-tune the offense around Mariota’s skillset if Carr is unable to play:
“If Derek can’t go, we’re going to always try to do what our quarterback does best,” Gruden said. “This guy can really run, he’s a dual threat, and he proved it tonight.”
Gruden also recently provided on update on Carr’s groin injury. While he is optimistic that the injury did not result in a tear, he did say that it was significant, which may mean he could miss more time.
Gruden’s comments now indicate that he is ready to adjust the playbook around Mariota’s ability to run. It is easy to see why considering he had rushed for a game-high 88 yards on 9.8 yards per carry.
Mariota also threw for 226 yards, a touchdown and an interception while completing over 60% of his throws. It is safe to say that having tight end Darren Waller serve as the top option in the passing game has helped serve as a stabilizing factor for the recent switch under center.
The Raiders will have a chance to get plenty of bang for their buck out of Mariota after making him the highest-paid backup in the league by signing him to a two-year deal worth $17.6 million. Given the apparent severity of Carr’s injury and the dwindling playoff hopes, there is little reason for the team to risk having him suffer another setback.