ALAMEDA – Derek Carr can do no right these days. The Raiders quarterback either pushes the ball downfield in an unsafe manner or checks down so often playing it safe.
Such is life as the face of a franchise that can’t buy a win. Focus has honed on Carr’s every move this season after years sharing the spotlight with Khalil Mack and, to a lesser extent, Amari Cooper. Those guys have been traded, leaving Carr and the lightning rod for criticism among the players. His hefty paycheck doesn’t help matters much, as he struggles to score steadily and orchestrate Jon Grduen’s offense well.
Raiders owner Mark Davis recognizes this, and defended his quarterback in a Sunday interview with ESPN.
"Derek's taking a lot of s--- right now," Davis said. "He is the franchise quarterback right now. He doesn't have Amari Cooper. He lost (Martavis) Bryant to a knee injury today. Guys have been getting hurt. Who's he throwing to? Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts, which are good guys. But they're not putting the fear of God in anybody.
"The tight end (Jared Cook) is playing his ass off. You look at the quarterback and he's playing behind a battered offensive line ... so I don't know what you can put on Derek and I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on him."
[RATTO: Raiders owner Mark Davis is just poking the rubble by taking the blame now]
Davis is right. The Raiders offensive struggles are not all on Carr. The offensive line’s less reliable than any point in the last few seasons. The skill spots aren’t as strong, especially with Cooper gone and Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve.
Fan frustrations are largely taken out on Gruden, and the man making the most money. That’s Carr. The signal caller was thankful for the vote of confidence but was far more interested in giving his owner and Raider Nation what they really want.
“It just is what it is. It’s nice words,” Carr said Wednesday. “He’s just telling the truth, man. He’s not one to sugar coat things. It hasn’t been easy, but there’s no excuse. I still hold myself to a standard. Whether he calls me and tells me those things, I still say, ‘But I could’ve done this or this. I could keep doing this.’ He keeps having my back. He keeps telling what everyone keeps telling me inside (the building). I just go by what they say. For him to say that, it feels good.
"It’s nice, but at the same time I just want to win. The words are nice and it means a lot. I don’t want to take anything away from that. But at the end of the day I wake up early, I work my tail off, grind myself to sleep until tonight because I just want to win. It feels good, but winning is definitely better.”