Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Derek Carr has made 44 starts as Raiders quarterback. They all haven’t been pretty. Most of them have, but the 25-year has hit a few bumps during what is generally considered a sterling start to his career.

He threw some costly interceptions in 2015, and was learning on the job as a rookie. He’s been nothing short of awesome this season. Until Thursday night, certainly one of his worst as a professional.

Ponder this stat line: 17-for-41, 117 passing yards, no touchdowns, no picks. His 49.1 passer rating was career low.

That’s un-Carr-like, to say the least.

While his receivers dropped four passes, there were many others not in the tally that should’ve been caught. Special teams made some costly mistakes and the defense had some first-half lapses.

Carr wasn’t afraid to say quarterback play had a huge impact on a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a nationally televised game that dropped the Raiders to 10-3 and into second-place in the AFC West.

“It was definitely a bad night, no way of getting around that,” Carr said. “I hate to have a bad night coming on this one, out of all the games we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough. 

“I feel very responsible for that because of being the leader of the offense and the team. I feel sick to my stomach when we put something like that out there on film. It hurts, I can promise you that. I put too much time into this to go do something like that.”

Carr didn’t want to make excuses after this loss. He didn’t blame his right pinky, which he dislocated in two places against Carolina, which still causes discomfort.

“It definitely wasn’t the finger’s fault,” Carr said.

He didn’t blame frigid temperatures, or whether that had an effect on his grip or his ailing digit. It certainly might have, but the Raiders quarterback never plays the blame game.

Despite the passing game’s struggles, Latavius Murray ran well and the defense clamped down in the second half. That kept the Raiders down one score most of the second half, but they couldn’t cross the goal line.

The Raiders had more than eight minutes to put a game-trying drive together, but stalled at the Kansas City 19-yard line and turned it over on downs.

Carr put one touchdown drive together, late in the first half that made it 21-10. The defense forced two turnovers in the red zone early in the third quarter, but the Raiders only got three points from those opportunities.

That, much like everything else that happened in the passing game, was uncharacteristic of an explosive unit.

“Everything about tonight was unusual, to be honest,” Carr said. “To have our defense step up for us and make plays, and for us to go out there and not execute, do things we don’t do… That’s why it’s frustrating. That why I promise you I’m not worried.

“We played awful. It wasn’t good enough, but I’m not worried because I know the guys in the locker room. I’m not worried one bit, but it just sucks. We have to take it. We have to take the punch, but I’m not worried. I think we’re going to bounce back.”

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.