Derek Carr’s advice to himself: ‘Don’t press’

Derek Carr’s advice to himself: ‘Don’t press’

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr was quick to take blame for a blowout loss to Washington on national television, though it wasn’t entirely true. Every Raider had a hand in that debacle.

That statement remained the right move for two reasons: 1. That’s what good leaders do, and 2. The franchise quarterback was pretty darn bad. He knows as well as anyone the Raiders struggle when he’s subpar.

That’s a nice way of putting Carr’s performance at Washington. He was 19-of-31 passing for 118 yards, a touchdown, two picks and a 52.9 passer rating. He was sacked four times. His offense went 0-for-11 on third down.

Carr has played this bad before. Last year’s game at Kansas City was pretty close, but not much else outside a rookie season where his team was awful.

Carr doesn’t lay many eggs. That’s why Sunday’s performance left many reaching for answers to what went wrong with their steady signal caller.

David Carr came up with one.

“It was like, how did my brother say it?” Derek Carr said. “An anomaly.”

Carr’s prep didn’t change. The Raiders didn’t have a bad week’s practice. They didn’t get fooled by Washington’s defense. They just got beat. Carr made some bad throws and uncharacteristically poor decisions.

“It was just one of those days where we went out there and it just did not go well,” Carr said. “There was nothing really I could put a finger on except I just have to come back and work harder. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, whatever I feel throughout the day. Just try to do it better.”

It’s hard for Carr to put in more hours. He did take a long look at that Washington film to dissect errors and how to avoid them. He wanted to see how Washington’s defense was effective, knowing full well the copycats are coming.

“You guys know how prideful of a worker he is,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “He’s worked really hard this week to clean up some things and do his part. That’s permeated our whole offense. Nobody has looked at that game as I said, and thought, ‘Man, I’m really pleased with what I put on tape.’ Everybody from Derek all the way down to quality control coaches has looked for ways to improve. That’s going to be what propels us going forward.”

The desire to erase a bad experience can create unnecessary pressure, and put Carr back into last week’s predicament. Any advice on how to avoid a repeat performance?

“Yeah. I would just say don’t press,” Carr said. “I don’t need to make every play. I always put it on my shoulders. I’m harder on myself than anybody is. Whenever we put a performance out there like that, I told you after the game, everybody played great except me. I just have to know I have to rely on my teammates. I don’t have to do it all.”

A solid rebound would quiet concerns and get Carr’s Raiders back on track. The Bengals or Browns, however, aren’t next on the schedule. Denver’s ready to host an old rival, armed with a physical, brash defense effective at most everything.

Carr has struggled some against Denver, with a 73.5 passer rating and 12 sacks in five games. He has just one over 200 yards against the Broncos. That isn’t atypical considering how good the Broncos have been. There’s plenty of respect, however, coming from the other side.

“I wasn’t even aware of that stat of him having shaky games in Denver,” Broncos edge rusher Von Miller said. “Every time you turn on the film, he’s a great quarterback. His accuracy is through the roof. He’s a smart quarterback, athletic. That’s the franchise, that’s what you’re looking for. When you get a guy like that, you have to hold on to him and that’s what the Raiders did this offseason.”

The Raiders fully expect the Washington game to stand as an outlier at season’s end. Carr understands that, yet wants to respond well right away.

“Anytime, like anybody, you get punched in the mouth, you have to fight back,” Carr saidn. “Obviously, if you got hit, you didn’t do something right, you have to fight back and figure out what it was.”

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up


Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

The Raiders are aiming to snap a four-game losing streak as they take on the first-place Chiefs Thursday night under the lights in Oakland. And they will be thin in the middle of their defense. 

Cory James and Marquel Lee are both inactive, but a well-known new face is ready to go.

Oakland will turn to veteran NaVorro Bowman, along with two undrafted rookies, Woodson Luster and Nicholas Morrow, to man the middle. 

The following players have been ruled out tonight vs. the Chiefs: 

Cornerback Gareon Conley

Quarterback Connor Cook

Linebacker Cory James

Linebacker Marquel Lee

Tackle Marshall Newhouse

Defensive End Jihad Ward

Tackle Jylan Ware

Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr


Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr

OAKLAND -- Derek Carr is going through a rough patch. The beloved Raiders quarterback is being criticized for his part in this prolonged losing skid, a rarity since his rookie year.

Carr is supposedly playing it safe, getting rid of the ball quick, throwing short and avoiding potentially risky deep shots downfield.

That doesn’t sound like someone who wears No. 4 as homage to Brett Favre. Alex Smith comes to mind instead.

The Kansas City signal caller is notoriously known as a game manager, a cautious leader who rarely lets it rip.

Not this year. The former 49ers No. 1 overall pick is killing it in K.C., with career highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. The early MVP candidate has 12 touchdowns and no picks despite the fact he’s throwing deep more than ever.

Now that sounds like the Derek Carr we knew last year.

These quarterbacks seem to have reversed roles heading into Thursday’s clash between AFC West rivals. The Raiders are 2-4 and in desperate need of win against the AFC West-leading Chiefs.

Smith and Carr can be truly dynamic downfield. Only one guy’s found that rhythm lately.

That’s crystal clear when examining their deep throws.

Nobody’s better going yard this year than Smith, per analytics site Pro Football Focus – wrap your head around that – who is 13-of-23 for 526 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on throws beyond 20 yards in the air. Carr is 17th, completing 3-of-10 deep shots – no starter has fewer attempts -- for 109 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.

Last year, Carr ranked fifth in passes over 20 yards in the air, again, using PFF stats, with a 46-percent completion rate, 858 yards and a 117.6 passer rating. Smith was 20th in that category, completing less than a third of his attempt with a 72.8 passer rating.

The Raiders certainly want to push the ball downfield more. Carr has but four explosive plays in nearly three games of the Raiders’ four game losing streak – he missed the Baltimore loss with a fractured in his back – and hasn’t worked short passes consistently enough to score often.

“We definitely want to be able to (create explosive plays),” Carr said. “Now does that mean we’re going to do anything differently or trying to force things? Absolutely not. That’s where you get in trouble. That’s something that I’ve learned in my career. You can’t force it. You just have to work hard and let it happen.”

Some think Smith is letting it fly with a stoked competitive fire because the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid believes a strong supporting cast led by Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and rookie running back Kareem Hunt allows him to do big things Carr typically does.

There is, however, one constant heading into Thursday’s matchup. Smith has owned the Raiders. The Chiefs have had Carr’s number.

Smith is 9-1 against Oakland. Carr’s 1-5 against K.C.

Smith has 8.3 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns and just four picks against the Raiders. Carr averages 4.92 yards per attempt, six touchdowns and five interceptions versus the Chiefs.

“These are big games in the division,” Smith said. “You know they’re going to be four quarters. You know they’re going to come down to the end. You just try to go out there every single play and execute. They’re all hard fought and have been close.”

Carr knows Kansas City stands in the way of his ultimate goals. This year, he has to get past them to get the Raiders back on track. That won’t be easy.

“They do a good job of rushing the passer. They do a good job of stopping the run. They do a good job on the coverage end,” Carr said. “They’re sound. They’re really well-coached. (Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton) is a great coach. All the respect for him. So much respect that he even texted me when I got hurt last year. He’s just a good dude. But this week I don’t like him too much. He does a really good job of making sure everyone is locked in. They’re really smart. They’re really smart players. They don’t do a lot so they can see route concepts. They can visualize things and get used to seeing those kind of things.”