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.”