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.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”