Despite the fact that Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders got his first win against the Kansas City Chiefs, there’s no denying that he struggles against his division rival. He’s lost five in a row against the red and gold and his numbers have been perfectly mediocre. So is it true? Do the Chiefs have Carr’s number? What can the young passer do to exercise his demons?
Kansas City Has Derek Carr’s Number
Against the other 11 teams that he has played this year, Derek Carr has been phenomenal. An average game against those other teams is 286 yards, two touchdowns, and he only has one loss. However, against Kansas City? Quite the opposite.
In two games against the Chiefs this year, Carr has thrown for 342 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. That’s an average of only 171 yards per game. That’s pretty horrific for someone who is supposedly a candidate for the MVP award.
And it hasn’t just been this year. To date, Carr has yet to have a statistically impressive performance against Kansas City. Even in his first win as a pro, a 24-20 win back in 2014, Carr only threw for 174 yards and one touchdown. If you’ll remember, it was a breakout performance from Latavius Murray that helped Oakland get ahead that night.
In six games against Kansas City, Carr has thrown for total of 1,215 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. That’s 203 yards, one touchdown, and one interception a game. When you consider that his career average is better than the average in 2016 alone, it’s clear that he’s dealing with more than just growing pains.
Well it’s not a secret that the Kansas City Chiefs lean heavily on their defense, they should start referring to their defense as the night sky because there are stars everywhere. Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Dontari Poe, Marcus Peters, and others make life a living hell for offenses playing Kansas City.
Even the likes of Tom Brady struggle against this defense. Just two years ago, en route to his fourth Super Bowl win, Brady only completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Carr might struggle versus this defense, but it’s not like he’s in bad company.
However, Carr needs to learn to get the job done if he’s going to be successful in the NFL. Brady struggles with the New York Giants, but he only plays them once every four years. Carr and the Raiders play Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs twice a year, every year.
There are plenty of excuses to be made for Oakland’s struggles against Kansas City. The team has been beat up, the receivers couldn’t catch a cold, and the Oakland Coliseum is a disaster. However, excuses don’t win championships. The Chiefs have had to play with injuries, in the same stadium, under the same circumstances.
How are the Chiefs containing Carr? It’s quite simple. They push him. Most teams don’t have the courage to give Carr the opportunities that Kansas City does, but then again, few teams are good enough to. The majority of teams in the NFL focus on preventing the big play, but the Chiefs offer it up on a silver (and black) platter.
However, one thing the Chiefs also do is make sure Carr either has to wait or that he has to force dangerous passes. If Carr could get that extra second, the deep plays are developing, but against Kansas City’s pass rushers, that time just isn’t there. The Chiefs force Carr to make the deep, dangerous passes, and that just isn’t how the Raiders play.
There was a play on Thursday night where Carr was able to dodge pass rushers and find Amari Cooper wide open down the field, but Cooper lost his balance and the ball fell incomplete. The Chiefs successfully take away the short routes and medium plays. They force Carr and the Raiders to make big plays or not at all, and by the time Oakland drops the conservative approach to offense, it’s too late.
As everyone in the world saw for almost 20 years, a career can easily be defined by a rivalry. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos faced off almost every year. Between Brady’s debut in 2001 and 2006, Manning was winless against the New England Patriots. It wasn’t until a cold game in Foxborough in 2006 that Manning finally beat Brady. Manning would go on to defeat Brady again in the AFC Championship that year before finally winning his first Super Bowl.
The point is, just because someone has your number, that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Manning was dominated by Brady early in his career, but ultimately, he turned it around. In fact, both times that Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl, he did so by beating Brady and the New England Patriots.
People might have thought Carr’s big rival would be another quarterback, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The monkey on Derek Carr’s back has a mustache, glasses, and a penchant for small ball. Carr is the future of the Raiders, and might be the future of the NFL, but he’ll never be able to be great until he can successfully beat the Kansas City Chiefs.