Derek Carr

Not limited by back, Derek Carr puts finger on why Raiders' offense struggled

Not limited by back, Derek Carr puts finger on why Raiders' offense struggled

OAKLAND – Derek Carr’s return from a back injury was not triumphant. The Raiders lost. Again.

Carr had some good news to report after Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He said transverse process fractures didn’t hinder his ability to play quarterback against the Chargers. Every throw was available.

He didn’t connect on many downfield. His two long completions to Amari Cooper were negated by penalty. Michael Crabtree’s 23-yard touchdown reception, the passing game’s only explosive pass play, was a catch and run.

The Raiders weren’t able to work the ball downfield. Carr didn’t let loose much.

Short stuff wasn’t necessary to protect the passer.

“It had nothing to do with my back,” Carr said. “They play really soft zone coverage. That’s what (Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) does. He tries to create pressure and hide some things. Usually, when they play soft, you have to take those.”

Carr’s pedestrian stat line didn’t wow. He completed 21-of 30 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a 67.5 passer rating. Carr averaged 5.3 yards per pass play, a low sum more common in his early years. Dink and dunk was the strategy Sunday. Carr threw just five passes 10 yards or more in the air, and completed three for 50 yards and an interception. The other 25 were short-range throws, with five behind the line of scrimmage. The passing game had just one big play all day, and couldn't sustain success often enough to generate enough points. 

Carr said the full playbook was available to him against the Chargers.

“We go out there as an offense and we’re going to run what’s called to the best of our abilities,” Carr said. “There was no talk of trying to get the ball out of my hands or to not take hits or anything like that.”

Carr said the Raiders scheme under Todd Downing is “great.” The game plans are sound. Fans have grown frustrated with the coaching staff, coordinators especially, with the Raiders performing well below expectation.

The Raiders rank 30th in total offense and 16th in points per game even after scoring 70 in the season’s first two weeks.

Carr hasn’t put a team on his shoulders during a four-game losing streak where the Raiders are averaging 13.1 points per game.

He’ll naturally take all the blame in these moments. That’s what good leaders do.

He took responsibility for two key picks. The first came from miscommunication, while the second was tipped a bit and killed an 11-play drive already in the red zone.

The problems Carr, believes, are small.

“Details. That's a frustrating thing,” Carr said. “I'm not going to lie to you. I'm really frustrated. We work too hard for that kind of stuff to happen. That's an easy catch, that's an easy play, if I do the right thing, if our players do the right thing. What I'm trying to say, is that it should be an easy play. And it was a turnover. That should never happen. We gave them two gifts.

“It's myself and the whole offense included. We need to lock into every little detail, that's the problem. There's nothing else. Our guys work their tail off. When I get there, guys are there and they're working. We're working hard, but we have to lock in on the details."

Lingering effects remain, but nothing Derek Carr can't handle


Lingering effects remain, but nothing Derek Carr can't handle

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio called Derek Carr two Mondays past, tasked with breaking bad news. The CT Scan taken earlier that afternoon found a transverse process fracture in Carr’s back. The franchise quarterback was going to miss some time.

Carr absorbed the information, and then did something surprising.

He apologized. As if getting hurt was somehow his fault.

Deep down, Carr knew it wasn’t. He took Adam Gotsis’ knee to the lower back while getting wrenched to the ground against Denver. Nothing you can do about that.

It didn’t change the sentiment, or that Carr wasn’t going to be available one game at least. He couldn’t try to end a two-game losing streak, rekindling helplessness last felt after a broken fibula put him on the shelf.

“I felt bad because I care so much about this team and this organization that even though I had a broken back I still felt bad that I couldn’t be out there to help because as you guys know, I sat there for two games last year and had to watch knowing there’s nothing I could do to help,” Carr said Wednesday. “It is a lonely feeling. It hurts because I see the sacrifice all my teammates make and I just want to be out there to help them, because I believe that I can.”

The Raiders are reliant on Carr. There’s little doubt about that. They go well when he does, especially with his penchant for coming through in the clutch. He puts the Raiders in position to succeed, often with changes unclear to the untrained eye.

Backup EJ Manuel wasn’t bad, but the Raiders missed Carr in a 30-17 loss to Baltimore. He practiced twice before the Ravens game and pushed to play, though that end was always unrealistic.

There was, however, a message sent.

“I wanted to show my teammates and my coaches that no matter what I’m going to do anything I can for my team,” Carr said. “I wanted to show our city and our organization that it doesn’t matter what happens, I’m going do everything I can to be out there. Those are the things that motivated and pushed me.”

Carr is physically ready to play the Los Angeles Chargers, and motivated to snap a three-game losing streak. Playing well is imperative. A loss would put the Raiders in the AFC West cellar. A win would alleviate stress and provide confidence heading into a Thursday night clash with Kansas City.

Carr says the back fracture doesn’t restrict his throwing motion. He wouldn’t return if it did. Lingering effects remain, but it’s nothing Carr can’t handle.

“I mean it just hurts,” Carr said. “There’s really nothing much more to it. It just hurts. It’s not like anything that’s like, ‘Oh man, if I take a hit, I’m worried.’ It’s not like a worry. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with. Just like everybody in the NFL right now.”

Carr might wear extra padding or a flak jacket. He isn’t sure yet. Odds are great Carr takes some punishment Sunday against L.A.’s ferocious pass rush, but refuses to play worried about getting hit. He can’t make it worse, and he can handle the pain.

“Any time you take a hit like that there’s always a chance for anything,” Carr said. “That’s the risk that we take every time we take the field. It’s a violent game that we play, more violent than people realize just watching on TV. But with that said, it’s a risk every single week. You could get hit. You could break your ankle, too. You could break your finger. You could do a lot of things. It’s just one of those things. You take a risk every time you go out there.”

Raiders QB Derek Carr expected to play in Week 6 against Chargers


Raiders QB Derek Carr expected to play in Week 6 against Chargers

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr remains on track to start next week’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

He missed Sunday’s 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens with a transverse process fracture in his back, though he practiced twice leading up to that game and pushed to be active at the very least.

Carr wasn’t persuasive enough. Manuel started and played every snap, with Connor Cook as his backup. Manuel was solid in his first regular-season game as a Raider.

It might be his only one.

Head coach Jack Del Rio echoed previous sentiments on Monday, that he expects Carr to practice and play in Week 6.

“I anticipate him being ready to go,” Del Rio said, “He was pushing pretty hard last week.”

That’s no surprise. Carr’s recovery timetable was set at 2-6 weeks, and the Chargers clash will occur two weeks past the injury date. He was on the shallow end of that recovery timetable, and has remained on it.

While Carr pushed to play and be available against Baltimore, Manuel was always expected to start that game.

Carr will have a week’s reps to prep for a now pivotal AFC West contest. The 2-3 Raiders are looking to snap a three-game losing streak and avoid falling into the division cellar.