The Raiders brought in Marcus Mariota to be their backup quarterback last season and he appeared in one game — an overtime loss to the Chargers late in the season.
In 2021, Las Vegas wanted to get Mariota more involved in the offense, using him as a sort of wild card to keep defenses off balance.
That hasn’t happened too much, but it worked effectively a week ago in the Raiders’ victory over the Cowboys. Mariota took a zone-read to the right for a 3-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
When Mariota is on the field, it means starting quarterback Derek Carr is either on the sideline or lined up out of position. But Carr doesn’t mind it at all, comparing the dynamic to previous iterations of New Orleans’ offense.
“[T]o be able to do what [Mariota] does in the run game and things like that, it helps us so much,” Carr said in his Wednesday press conference. “You saw it work in New Orleans with Taysom [Hill] when Drew [Brees] was there and they were still throwing the ball all over the place. And it’s helping us do some different things. Again, it makes the defense have to go talk about some other things in their meetings, waste some of their meeting time on this instead of only talking about this, and it’s really great because he’s one of the best in the league at that. I mean he won a Heisman Trophy doing it. So, to have him be able to do those things and help us win football games, I think you guys know me well enough, I don’t care how we do it, I just want to win the football game.
“But I do wish he would have thrown me that fade though.”
Carr also noted that his dynamic with Mariota on the sideline and in the meeting room with practice squad QB Nathan Peterman has been solid.
“Well because I knew [Mariota], and knew of him, it’s been exactly what I expected,” Carr said. “He’s been awesome. He’s the most supportive. He has my back all the time. He’s there to help. We’re talking on the sideline. We have three guys that have started games sitting next to each other, talking about our experiences. ‘Hey, don’t forget. They signal this, or they check this.’ To be able to have that communication at the level that we are able to talk it and there is a respect there because we’ve all started games.”
The Raiders may continue to roll out the Mariota package for Sunday’s game against Washington.