Raiders coach Jon Gruden gushed about newcomer Marcus Mariota, who arrived on a one-year, $7.5 million deal in the offseason.
“He has turned a corner with his ankle [injury] and he is a dazzling playmaker,” Gruden said of Mariota, via Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com. Gruden added that Mariota “really fired me up today.”
Gruden is known to talk up his players, but the situation with Mariota and Carr obviously is delicate. Then again, it could be that Gruden deliberately is throwing praise onto the new backup in order to see how Carr will respond.
Gruden wants his quarterbacks to have a certain demeanor, to act a certain way. To be ready to kick some ass and take some names. Carr, despite his penchant for periodically complaining and/or blocking people on Twitter, has yet to become the Sheriff Swagger the head coach seems to want. The dalliance with Mariota seems to be both an effort to irritate Carr into finally carrying himself the way Gruden wants (and performing accordingly, by taking chances and not playing it safe) and a potential Plan B, in the event Carr is injured or regresses.
When the Titans added Ryan Tannehill last year, plenty of people shouted down the possibility that the writing was on the wall for a Mariota demotion, given that he was making north of $20 million. And then Mariota was demoted. This year, if Gruden ends up flipping the switch from Carr to Mariota, no one should be surprised.
If that possibility makes Carr mad, good. That’s part of what Gruden hoping will finally happen, if it translates to Carr being more of the gunslinger Gruden wants at the position.