We had an incredible chance to interview Chris Hansen about the Dolphins-Raiders matchup yesterday.
I admire the blogging and writing career that Chris has had and am truly appreciative of his insight for this matchup and previous matchups the Raiders and Dolphins have had.
Here’s the interview:
Chris, thank you for taking the time to chat Raiders versus Dolphins.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Chris, we’ve seen these teams battle it out over the course of their history in the AFL and then later in the AFC.
The Raiders have dashed the hopes of Dolphins fans in the playoffs and have steamrolled the Dolphins late in the regular season-December of 1996 when Dan Marino had three fumbles and Ricky Dudley became a household name.
However, let’s chat about Jon Gruden, Amari Cooper, and finally the elephant in the room Derek Carr.
What the heck is going on with Jon Gruden these days? Has the game of football passed him by after all these years and how does he turn the corner and maybe rewrite his own legacy and get the Raiders winning again?
CH: When Gruden traded Khalil Mack, he was making it clear he needed time to re-shape the roster. It also means Gruden knew the Raiders weren’t AFC contenders in 2018. Although sitting at 0-2, Gruden’s offense has incorporated many new-age concepts, formations and plays. Although off to a slow start, the Raiders do appear in good hands with Gruden calling the plays. Only time will tell if Gruden proves to be a good personnel man.
FF: Some years ago (in 2012) while the Miami Dolphins were in utter turmoil and they struggled to find their footing without a quarterback, they found one in Ryan Tannehill. A season or two later, then coach Joe Philbin quietly told others he preferred Derek Carr over Tannehill and wanted to draft Carr.
Which team has the better quarterback and why?
CH: The Raiders have the better quarterback. Carr has the better TD%, lower INT% and his Adjusted Net Yard Per Attempt (from Pro-football-reference.com) is 6.1 to Tannehill’s 5.6. Carr can also make some throws that only a handful of QBs can make without turning the ball over. Carr has also had to carry the team on his back because the Raiders haven’t had a credible defense for his entire career.
FF: In addition, what does the future hold for Derek Carr in this offense?
CH: Carr had a rough first outing, but rebounded last week with a nearly historic effort from an efficiency standpoint. He has yet to make the big throws we’ve seen from him in the past, but Gruden wanted him to be more efficient last week and got what he wanted. This week, he wants bigger chunk plays from his offense, so expect the Raiders to open up the offense a bit and try to throw the ball down the field to Jordy Nelson. Carr has complete command of the offense and the confidence of his team. The Raiders expect him to be the QB for a long time.
FF: While Amari Cooper is a dynamic receiver and can take the top off the defense with his speed, it’s been his hands that have troubled him the past couple of seasons. Is this the season when Cooper returns to form?
CH: Cooper had an excellent Week 2. Although he has a reputation as a deep threat, he’s actually a vastly superior slot receiver who can make things happen with the ball in his hands. Cooper didn’t have many drop issues in 2016, so he’s proven he can catch the ball consistently for an extended period of time. He’s also been catching it well so far this season. Expect Gruden to continue to look for situations where he can quickly get the ball into Cooper’s hands. Odds are good that Cooper will have a strong season.
Finally: The Dolphins have a gift for you, perhaps it makes up for the dealing of Khalil Mack to the Bears. His name is DeVante Parker and he could be made available if he can’t fit in Miami with Adam Gase’s offense. If you’re Reggie McKenzie, do you make the call and deal for him?
CH: It doesn’t really matter what Reggie McKenzie thinks. Gruden is running the show and that’s why the Raiders have all the receivers they need right now. Gruden rolled the dice with Martavis Bryant and there isn’t space for a guy like Parker until Bryant’s appeal is settled. Even then, it’s usually a bad sign when a high pick like Parker is made available. If the price was right, Gruden might be interested, but Bryant proves he’s looking for a speed guy to open things up for Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook.
FF: Score prediction?
CH: 24-27, Raiders over Dolphins.
Chris, thanks for making yourself available for a quick chat.
Be sure to catch Chris Hansen on Twitter at @ChrisHansenNFL and at Raidersblog.com for the latest on the Raiders-Dolphins matchups.
(Photo credit: Palm Beach Post 2017)