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.”

What's happened to the Raiders passing game?


What's happened to the Raiders passing game?

ALAMEDA – Jack Del Rio didn’t update the status of Amari Cooper’s ailing ankle. It was in bad shape last week, made worse by playing in Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cooper rolled it again on his 15th offensive snap, when he was blocking for a run. Cooper was one of three receivers in a bunch formation left of the offensive line. Cooper and Michael Crabtree got out front of the play, and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis landed on Cooper’s lower leg while tackling rusher DeAndre Washington. Cooper let out a scream picked up by television cameras, after his ankle got hurt again.

“It was a toss, a crack toss. He was involved in it,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. “He had an assignment to block. It’s football. He was involved in a play.”

That play ended Cooper’s day, and put him back on the shelf. He was there for nearly two weeks before, after being concussed and suffering an ankle sprain in a violent collision against Denver.

Cooper was expected to miss the Chiefs game, but pressed to practice Friday and play a pivotal AFC West showdown in Kansas City. He got his wish. The Raiders didn’t get much in return.

He was targeted once and didn’t have a catch before aggravating an injury that may keep him out of future must-win games. Time will tell in that regard.

One certainty: The Raiders need more from their receiver corps. Quarterback and offensive line also contribute in the passing game, but this group struggled to separate and dropped three passes against Kansas City. STATS, Inc. has the Raiders third worst with 24 dropped passes this season.

The Raiders needed Crabtree especially with Cooper out. He had seven catches for 60 yards in 13 targets.

The passing game isn’t in great sync, a surprising turn for a group that features a Pro Bowl quarterback and two 1,000-yard receivers from a year ago.

“I don’t like to sit up here and grade positions, so I’m not going to today,” Del Rio said. “I thought they competed hard and we played a lot of guys. Obviously without both of our guys in Cooper and Crabtree, we didn’t have Coop very long. We filled in and battled. We’d like to get more production there.”

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient


As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn plans to play two more years after this one. That’s it.

The Raiders left tackle plans to play out a contract extended this fall, which would complete 14 NFL seasons.

Penn wants to make the most of the time he has left. This season hasn’t been good use of an opportunity. The Raiders are on life support following Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders entered Kansas City with a chance to control their own destiny, a shocking and possibly undeserved turn following the Chiefs' midseason collapse. They went from 2-4 to sitting atop the division with four games to play. They had a chance to erase a disappointing start, and ultimately coughed it up. They did that last year, too, and had to settle for a wild card spot.

“One of these days we’re going to stop giving it away. We we’re going to take it,” Penn said Tuesday. “Maybe I, being a veteran, need to do a better job of leading these guys and reminding them that chances are rare. I’m only playing two years after this, so my opportunities are getting shorter and shorter. I want to play in and win a Super Bowl before I’m done. My sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now.”

Salvaging this season might be tough, and players know it. They were just as frustrated as head coach Jack Del Rio was talking to the press a day before. This Chiefs loss stung. They were given a golden opportunity and squandered it. 

The Raiders need to win out and get tons of help to reach the postseason. They can’t get eliminated this week, but an eighth loss Sunday to Dallas would be a virtual death sentence.

“If we don’t beat Dallas, there won’t be a playoff scenario,” Penn said. “All I can focus on is our next game. We have to get that going and do something positive. It has been a frustrating season.”

A victory over K.C. would’ve been huge, but the Raiders never showed up in a terrible offensive effort. The Raiders had three or fewer plays on six of their first eight drives, and were shutout into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make plays when we had the chance. Kansas City did,” Penn said. “They made all the plays at the right time they needed to. They made the plays we didn’t make early in the game. We were still fighting. We didn’t make progress with the chances we had.

“We had opportunities but didn’t capture them. It festered all through the game. We did the same thing last year. We went to Kansas City last year with a chance to control our own destiny and gave it away.”