Derek Carr’s breakout 2016 season came to an abrupt end after he broke his leg in a Christmas Eve game, leaving the Raiders without their franchise quarterback for the playoffs, the team’s first postseason appearance since 2002. He’s now practicing fully and the Raiders are looking to build on their 12-4 record next season.
And the team is drawing inspiration in part from their Bay Area NBA counterparts: The Golden State Warriors, who earlier this week won their second title in three years.
“It makes you hungry every time you see another team celebrate a championship,” Carr said, via CSN Bay Area. “It makes you dream those dreams you had as a kid, of standing on the stage, holding trophies up. It was fun to watch and I’m happy for those guys. Hopefully they win a whole lot more.”
Carr, who admits to growing up a Lakers fan, also considers himself a fan of the hometown team.
“So to see them do that and see what it does for our city, it’s great that our city can experience something like that,” he said. “All the Warriors fans, most of them anyway, are Raiders fans if they don’t travel back across the Bay and root for that other team. Whenever you have something going on in the Bay Area, there’s no better place to win. It’s really cool.”
Jack Del Rio added: “It was awesome to be over at the game last night and see the Warriors win a world championship and do it with that crowd. It was a spectacular crowd full of happy people. It was great to be a part of that.”
The goal is to get Oakland’s fans a taste of playoff football, something that hasn’t happened in 15 years.
“Playing at home is something you have to earn,” Del Rio continued. “Our fans here are the best, That atmosphere last night was great to be a part of. Regular season games are fun, but it always ramps up in the playoffs. We’d love to earn those opportunities in the future.”
Keeping Carr healthy with have everything to do with getting the Raiders back to the playoffs. And from the perspective of June, six months removed from his injury, the quarterback says he’s is in the right space both mentally and physically.
“The hardest part was taking the first rep, because the last rep you remember was like, ‘Oh snap, I broke this thing,'” Carr said Tuesday, via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez. “But as soon as the ball was snapped, it was a blessing. It kind of all went away.
“Now, I’m just playing ball again, but leading up to it, I think that was the worst part, … the lead-up, all the rehab. It was like, ‘Man, when am I ever going to be able to do this again.’ It felt like it was never going to happen.”
As of last month, the Raiders had the second-best Super Bowl odds (15-2) after only the Patriots (3-1). And with Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook — and a healthy Carr — this offense could be one of the most explosive groups in the league.