Updated October 26, 2021 - 6:39 am
In the aftermath of the sudden resignation of Jon Gruden, it was understandable to assume a Raiders power void was left in his wake.
Gruden’s presence was felt everywhere at the Henderson headquarters, from the hand-picked players to play-calling.
But surprisingly, that void has been quickly filled by a special teams coach and a quarterback.
The Raiders’ two-game win streak since Gruden’s resignation, in which they have played their most efficient football in recent memory to rise to the top of the AFC standings, has allowed Rich Bisaccia and Derek Carr to take center stage.
Bisaccia, who served as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator under Gruden, has emerged as the ideal choice to take over the Raiders (5-2) on an interim basis.
He has maintained the coaching power structure among himself, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Bisiaccia has preached putting egos aside, allowing all three to preside over their specific arms of the day-to-day operation, with Bisaccia handling the bigger-picture issues that arise during the week and on game day.
Carr, the longest-tenured Raider and face of the franchise, has stepped up in a locker room filled with assertive personalities like Yannick Ngakoue, Maxx Crosby and Alec Ingold, among others. Carr’s influence has carried the most weight, a factor Bisaccia has encouraged.
“Off the field, Derek is the voice of the Raiders right now,” Bisaccia said Sunday after the Raiders’ win over the Eagles.
On the field, Carr has been sensational during the past two weeks, throwing for 664 yards and four touchdowns on 49 of 61 passing.
“He has that ability to just be the guy that you can rely on,” running back Kenyan Drake said.
But not just in performance. Carr is also collaborating with Olson to formulate the offensive game plans and has a big say in play-calling, especially at the line of scrimmage, where his ability to dissect defenses and get the Raiders into the right look has resulted in a much more versatile, flexible attack.
As a result, the Raiders have averaged 33.5 points per game the past two weeks.
“We can all see that the relationship that he and Greg Olson have running this offense,” Bisaccia said. “It’s really coming into fruition.”
Once Carr came to grips with Gruden’s departure, he understood his own voice needed to be amplified.
“When Coach Gruden would walk into a room, all eyes are on him,” Carr said. “When we lost that, someone has to fill that void. It’s not only me but obviously as the quarterback and leader and I’ve been here a while, I was like, I got to take that part of what I do to another level.”
It means nothing if his words are met by an unwilling audience. But the clout Carr carries in the Raiders’ locker room is clear. As is the recognition of his ability to roll with all the various punches he’s dealt with during his eight-year career with the Raiders.
When Gruden resigned, players immediately turned to Carr. Not out of obligation, but respect.
“It was a long time coming for DC,” Ingold said. “He’s been working hard for this moment, and he’s ready for it. I’m just excited for him to be that leader and be in a spot to encourage everyone else in the facility to step up with him.”
■ Who: Raiders at New York Giants
■ When: 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7
■ Where: MetLife Stadium
■ TV: KVVU-5