After his dismal second half against the Rams on Monday Night Football, fans and media alike have taken the opportunity to make Derek Carr the whipping boy. While a critical analysis of his poor play is warranted, larger doubts this early in the season are unfair.
Breaking News: Derek Carr had a bad game.
Many have said he threw away the game against the Los Angeles Rams Monday night. He certainly shoulders a large portion of the responsibility, but football is a team game. It’s also coached by men who make mistakes too.
Still, Carr’s sub-par second half is dredging up old doubts and exposing weaknesses the Raiders faithful either forgot or chose to ignore. Despite those faults – which every player has – Carr’s days in Oakland will most certainly be more fruitful and observers need to relax before calling him a bust.
Much of the angst is being justified due to Carr’s record-setting contract (at the time) and the team’s commitment to pay him elite quarterback money. Add in the team’s trade of popular defensive end Khalil Mack, and the team’s position they couldn’t pay both players the money they deserve, and you have a perfect storm of typical Raider Nation overreaction.
The fact remains: it’s one game.
It’s Been Just One Week Folks
Many point to a sub-par 2017 for Carr. Yes, the same Carr who broke bones in his back. The same Carr handed an absolutely crappy offensive scheme in 2017. The same Carr who wasn’t being pushed by a more lax coaching staff. While some of the same technical errors from 2017 reared their ugly head in the Rams loss, he’s a quarterback on his fourth playbook in five years. Yes, he’s a smart guy and has worked hard in the offseason. Even so, it takes time to gel. This is why I’ve said since Jon Gruden returned for 2018 that it would be a transition year. There would be lots of ups and lots of downs. The key is to not to read too much into either this year.
According to Pro Football Focus‘ RaidersEdge statistics and grades this week, Carr’s overall grade just a 54.0 – good for 28th in the league after one week. Not exactly something he’d put on his resume or that you’d list on his trading card, but it’s just one game folks. His adjusted completion rate was 78.4% (11th) but was just 55.6% (18th) when pressured. Compared to Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Ryan Fitzpatrick who all had a perfect completion percentage under pressure last week, that’s not good. Fitzpatrick led the league with a 158.3 passer rating while Carr was 29th with a 20.1 rating.
It has to improve for Carr but how about giving him a chance to do so?
Has Gruden “Called Out” Carr?
Many have also made much of Gruden’s veiled calling out of Carr when he said this during a press conference this week when asked why the Raiders didn’t get Amari Cooper the ball more against LA.
“But you look at the film, we had him wide open deep,” Gruden said. “We didn’t go there. He was open a couple of times and for whatever reason, we didn’t go that route. Yeah, we want to get him going. That’s easier said than done now.”
That quote is being played up as Gruden calling out Carr for not seeing Cooper deep during the game. It’s most likely true and Gruden is a master at sending messages as we learned during the preseason. What’s curious is many in Raider Nation making a big deal about it when most railed against former coach Jack Del Rio for going “too easy” on Carr.
What’s that proverb about having your cake and eating it too?
Fans and observers who don’t like Carr still don’t like Carr or believe that he’s not an elite quarterback. To make that assessment after one game in a new system, with new players on the roster, and a new coaching staff that demands more than he’s used to isn’t fair in my view.
Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, we’re not having this discussion a few weeks down the road. Give Derek Carr a chance to settle in and lead the team like many think he can.