What Bill Romanowski wants to see from Derek Carr and the Raiders in 2019

Former Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski was critical of quarterback Derek Carr in January, not sure if Carr “can lead the Raiders to a dynasty.”

A lot has changed since, especially when the Raiders traded for wide receiver Antonio Brown and added free agent wide receiver Tyrell Williams and left tackle Trent Brown. Now, Romanowski says it’s go-time for Carr.

“I called it how I saw it,” Romanowski said of his January interview with San Francisco radio station KNBR. “Derek is a great young man. He’s got a potential to be a great player for a lot of years, and it just comes down to, ‘Does he have the right players around him? Does he get to a point in his career where he raises the level of talent and makes everybody better and believe that they can beat anybody they go up against?’ That’s what great quarterbacks do, and that needs to happen for Derek.”

Last season Carr had his best completion percentage in a five-year career, 68.9 percent, and passed for a career-best 4,049 yards. But his 19 touchdown passes were off his average of 25 in his first four seasons. And he was sacked a career-high 51 times..

“He was getting destroyed. It was like a sieve for him,” Romanowski said. “In some situations, in some games, you could’ve put a Tom Brady behind that offense and Tom Brady wouldn’t haven’t done any better. It was a really challenging situation.”

Antonio Brown ‘game-changer’

It was a tough 2018 season all-around for the Raiders (4-12), starting with the trade of Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. Amari Cooper was dealt midseason to the Dallas Cowboys, leaving Carr with Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Keon Hatcher, Brandon LaFell, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris and tight end Jared Cook as his receiving corps.

Cook was the most productive with 68 catches for 896 yards; he left this week to sign as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints.

Brown becomes the No. 1 receiving threat, a move that Romanowski applauds: “Bringing in Antonio Brown is a complete game-changer, not only for Derek Carr, but for the Oakland Raiders, the Raider Nation, and that’s a start.”

The old linebacker also took note of Brown’s arrival, saying not only is Brown the blindside protector Carr needs, but his arrival also allows for moving last year’s first-round pick, Kolton Miller, to right tackle where he can become productive after a disastrous rookie year.

Trust in Gruden, Mayock

Romanowski ended his 16-year career with two seasons (2002, ‘03) in Oakland, missing the first Jon Gruden era. (Gruden left for Tampa Bay after the 2001 season). But Romanowski settled in Oakland and has remained around the franchise. He said he trusts what Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are doing to get the Raiders back on the right track after two straight losing seasons.

“Bottom line, you have to know this: Jon Gruden is going to do everything in his power to bring a Super Bowl dynasty to the Raiders,” Romanowski said. “Mike Mayock knows talent. He knows football and been around it his whole life. I trust that the team of people that Jon Gruden has surrounded himself with, and the moves he’s making now, are going to set the Raiders up for years to come.”

On defense, the Raiders recently signed safety Lamarcus Joyner and defensive end Josh Mauro.

Romanowski said the Raiders “need a big-time pass rusher” and the team signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Tuesday.

“The rest of it is going to be done in the draft,” Romanowski said. “They’ve picked up some good key free agents and I’m sure they’ll be picking up more and it’s a situation where they need a bunch of great players that a great coaching staff can coach and then what happens is through mini camp to training and through the season, magic has to happen.”

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.