Raiders

Raiders QB Derek Carr quiets doubts with historic accuracy vs. Broncos

Raiders QB Derek Carr quiets doubts with historic accuracy vs. Broncos

DENVER -- Derek Carr was at his best Sunday against the Denver Broncos. His best is pretty freaking good.

The Raiders quarterback was awesome all game, completing 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 90 percent of his passes with more than 30 attempts, per ESPN.

Carr was decisive and accurate with his throws Sunday, and he led the Raiders offense well.

“I thought Derek Carr played great today,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a great player, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player. I look forward to the days ahead. Hopefully there are several (good ones).”

The coach and the quarterback didn’t revel in a job well done. The final score didn’t permit that. A tough 20-19 loss ruined the mood, though there were plenty of encouraging signs about the Raiders offense’s performance.

Carr moved the ball extremely well through the air and rarely let it touch the ground, but he said he didn’t feel any more locked-in than he recently has.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I have felt last week and this week like I have all offseason. There’s no being in a zone,” Carr said. “I’m just trying to run Coach Gruden’s plays to the best of my ability, the exact way he wants it done. … I wish I had something better for you, but I just feel like we are executing the way we should.”

Carr took some heat after throwing three interceptions in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, where his decision-making was called into question. Carr said he didn’t listen to criticism on social media or in the press, and he shut that storyline down Sunday. He proved his decision-making is just fine, thank you, and he can push the ball downfield with pace when required.

“Derek was great,” said receiver Amari Cooper, who led the Raiders with 10 catches for 116 yards. “He was very accurate with the ball, and made a ton of plays.”

Leading his team to victory is the primary objective. Nay, the only one.

Carr didn’t check that box, but he's clearly growing within Gruden’s system. That ultimately should help the bottom line as the season continues.

Carr refuses to let results, personal or team-related, pull focus from the grind.

“We’re going to have days where I throw three picks or I’m going to throw [for] five touchdowns. I’ve done both,” Carr said. “We have to play level-headed and, as a team, stay together, push forward and grind this week in practice. There’s no other recipe for getting better. That’s how we have to do it. We need to learn as a team through this experience and, next time we’re in that spot, finish the game.”

NFL rumors: Chiefs will be 'primary suitor' for Jalen Ramsey trade

NFL rumors: Chiefs will be 'primary suitor' for Jalen Ramsey trade

The Chiefs probably aren't done giving the Raiders headaches this season, and they might do it on defense when they meet again Dec. 1 in Kansas City. 

Many NFL general managers believe the Chiefs "will emerge as a primary suitor" for disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora tweeted Tuesday. 

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill didn't wait long to start recruiting Ramsey on Twitter that morning.

The Raiders saw firsthand what the Chiefs' offense could do in Sunday's 28-10 loss at the Coliseum, but Kansas City's defense hasn't been as strong in the nascent Patrick Mahomes era. The Chiefs allowed the second-most passing yards (4,374) last season, and have given up the 13th-most through two games in 2019. Kansas City revamped its defensive line and added Tyrann Mathieu to its secondary in order to address those defensive deficiencies, but Ramsey's arrival could send the Chiefs defense into another stratosphere.

The 25-year-old is -- at least -- one of the five best cornerbacks in the NFL, with more than enough game to back up his constant trash talk. Pro Football Focus found that, since 2016, just four corners have allowed a lower completion percentage (53.8 percent) than Ramsey.

[RELATED: Why Raiders DB Joyner is encouraged by team's mindset]

Sunday proved that the Raiders won't be competing with the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy this season, but Ramsey's arrival would widen the gap between the two franchises even further -- at least in the immediate future. Given Ramsey's stated desire to play in Las Vegas, such a move would hurt the Silver and Black beyond the franchise's final game at Oakland Coliseum. Ramsey can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season, and the Chiefs can afford him since Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP, still is playing on his rookie deal.

Acquiring star receiver Antonio Brown blew up in the Raiders' collective faces, but seeing another superstar in Ramsey suit up for a division rival -- that already is a juggernaut -- could sting the Raiders even more.

Why Lamarcus Joyner was encouraged by Raiders' response to Chiefs loss

Why Lamarcus Joyner was encouraged by Raiders' response to Chiefs loss

The Raiders didn’t spent much time sulking after Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. The secondary in particular was engaged in spirited dialogue following a game decided by big plays, all in a short span.

Veteran slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner spoke to several before leaving the locker room, including Trayvon Mullen, Curtis Riley and Keisean Nixon about where things went awry against the NFL’s scariest offense.

The team captain’s antennae have been up since the loss became official, curious to see how the Raiders would respond to the season’s first on-field setback. He knows you can learn a lot about team character and chemistry after things don’t go right.

Joyner was happy to see the group processing the loss in the locker room, not wallowing in an emotional reaction. That continued as the night wore on.

“The guys that I called up last night were already watching the film,” Joyner said. “Guys are excited. They are encouraged despite the loss that we suffered. I think it shows how good of a team we are to say that we had some success against the best offense in the league and look at it as a positive.

"When you can honestly say that you defeated yourself, that’s always encouraging.”

The Raiders are skewing younger, with impact rookies across the depth chart. The team’s leadership will have to help this group working through disappointments without losing sight of the need to steadily progress.

“They have to assume a huge leadership role right now and I know they will,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “I plan on us having a heck of a week of practice. We have a great challenge, it doesn’t get any easier.”

The Raiders start a prolonged road trip Sunday in Minnesota, a playoff contender in the NFC North. They’ll have to recover quickly to compete with the Vikings, and Joyner has an idea how to do that.

He believes the Raiders functioned well in man coverage, and that his fellow defensive backs are ready for the challenge of covering receivers straight up.

“Me and my guys are running a mile every day after practice, man,” Joyner said. “We are going to get our cardio together and we’re going to go get after people.”

The Raiders are trying to solve problems, attempting to tighten up pass defense as they have in the run game.

“That young defensive line and out linebackers do a good job of getting to the ball,” Joyner said. “That’s good and we as a secondary know that we have to master our technique knowing we can hang our hat on the guys up front stopping the run. Now the games are going to be on us.”

That may be an exaggeration. The Chiefs exposed a few problem spots, even in a game where the Raiders weren't expected to win. They need better from the passing attack and receivers not named Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller. The pass rush has to get better, and the secondary must shore up the back.

The early response to Sunday’s setback has been encouraging in its business-like approach.

[RELATED: Why Raiders should trade for Jalen Ramsey]

“Everyone is positive, and I love it,” Joyner said. “That’s what you need. You have to have a short-term memory, especially as a defensive back. My job is to get right back at it, even after you give up a catch or a big play. The mindset we have in moving forward quickly, learning from our mistakes while preparing for the Minnesota Vikings is a good sign.

"That has been phenomenal.”