The 6-5 Raiders are in a six-game sprint to end the season, and as they try to cobble together enough wins to punch their ticket to the playoffs, their fans have a bunch of questions.
Among them, the long-term futures of quarterback Derek Carr and general manager Mike Mayock.
Here is a sampling from this week’s mailbag:
John Overton (@johnnyoplaya64): Do the Raiders give Derek Carr a contract extension?
Vincent Bonsignore: So much of what the Raiders do moving forward is predicated on what happens over the next six weeks. So it’s very difficult to make predictions on exactly what will happen.
Carr has distinguished himself this year in his play and leadership through some difficult times. Even when he struggled through the recent three-game losing streak, it was difficult to tell how much of it was strictly his fault.
With DeSean Jackson feeling comfortable, the offense is becoming more complete again — especially if Darren Waller returns soon from the knee injury he suffered in Dallas — the Raiders are close to full strength.
That means Carr will have the support to navigate the Raiders across the final push of the season. As a result, he has a chance to state his case as the team’s quarterback for years ahead.
If he doesn’t, and the Raiders falter, it is safe to assume the Raiders will assess all levels of the organization from the general manager to their quarterback.
������������������������ (@JohnJaimes_) Any chance Trayvon Mullen will be ready by the time they play the Chiefs?
VB: The Raiders’ third-year cornerback, who has been sidelined since Oct. 9th with a foot injury, was designated this week to return to practice. That means the Raiders have up to 21 days to decide when and if to place him on the active roster.
Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia indicated this week that Mullen and the team wanted him to be as close to 100 percent before returning. The fact that he did practice this week is a good indication he might be closing in on the preferred comfort level, which means returning for the Kansas City Chiefs game on Dec. 12th might be a realistic goal.
Anthony Guerrero Jr. (@Ageezy83): What are the chances Mike Mayock gets to pick the coach?
(VB): Just like Carr, the future of Mayock is likely tied into what happens during the next six games.
The sense is, the Raiders are going to let things play out before deciding what direction to take about their football staff.
Mayock hasn’t been perfect on his roster-building decisions, but he has done a good job building a competitive team and one that is in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. The key now is closing the deal. If the Raiders do, it’s a good sign that this on-field element of the organization is moving in the right direction and key decision-makers deserve a chance to continue on the task.
TreysenMan, red haired (@TrapperTreysen): Is this the week we see Malcolm Koonce?
(VB): The Raiders rookie defensive end has been caught up in a log jam at his position, forcing him to make this season a redshirt year. By all accounts, he is processing as the Raiders had hoped and in line to contribute in the future.
However, Carl Nassib’s knee injury might expedite things a bit. It could open the door for Koonce to suit up, although Cle Ferrell figures to pick up the majority of Nassib’s snaps.
Charles Diesel (@Sir_Diesel2): How concerned are the Raiders about these two things going into the playoff hunt: Five of the six teams remaining all rank inside the top 18 in both rush offense and defense. The Raiders rank 24th in run offense and 27th in run defense. Can they stop the run and run in inclement weather?
VB: The Raiders understand the correlation between successfully running the ball, stopping the run and winning football games in December.
It felt like they turned a bit of a corner Nov. 25 against the Cowboys by rushing for 143 yards and by limiting Dallas to 64 yards on the ground. That is a winning formula, and one the Raiders would be wise to continue to strive for the rest of the regular season.