Derek Carr is cursed. Or unlucky. Take your pick.
Either way, his broken back (fractured transverse process) incurred in Denver Sunday means the Oakland Raiders have to re-re-reinvent themselves in time to re-re-re-reinvent themselves when he returns in two to six weeks.
The Raiders were struggling to relocate the offense with which they hammered Tennessee and then the New York Jets before Carr went down under the weight of Shelby Harris and left the game. Now, the Raiders, who collapsed without him in the final week of the regular season and the playoff game in Houston, have to avoid recreating that little tableau if they don’t want to fall out of touch with Kansas City or Denver, let alone the army of other AFC teams who are currently 2-2.
If this seems like early for panic, well, it is if he only misses two weeks and then comes back whole. If it’s six weeks, a season that began with such grandiose expectations could well be lost. And given the time frame by which they will soon be the former Oakland Raiders, a lost year is borderline catastrophic for the most put-upon sporting city in the United States.
Such is the nature of football, though. Dreams die in fiery wrecks, and glory is averted in the most hideous of ways.
Of course, the Raiders may try to optimism their way through this, both through talking up backup E.J. Manuel and saying Carr is “right around the corner health-wise,” although the code phrase “back spasms” is never a good sign. That said, Jack Del Rio tried to fib his way through Carr’s injury when fibbing wasn’t really tactically beneficial, so he’ll understand if we don’t take his word alone.
Del Rio’s credibility is a small issue, though. Carr’s vertebrae are not, and the length of time it takes him to heal is the length of time when despair will linger over the Swords Through The Head. After all, there’s a template for this, and it is still fresh, even raw, in their minds.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.