“If there was anything I could do better, I’ll watch the film and I’ll try my best to do it next time”, Derek Carr told reporters after the Las Vegas Raiders 35-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. “I’ll just stay (true) to my process, and try and do it better next time.” He half-grimaced as he tasted the bitterness of his team’s loss to their rivals.
Derek Carr and Raiders Impressive in Defeat
There’s not much Derek Carr could have done better in Sunday night’s loss to the divisional rival Chiefs. Excluding the interception (which came as a last ditch attempt to win the game with seconds left), Carr had a near perfect performance. Before the pick, he had completed 23/30 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Nevertheless, the leader in Las Vegas held himself accountable for the loss.
Humble in success as he is in defeat, Derek Carr has quietly been putting together a stellar season in 2020. By no means the flashiest, most vainglorious or outspoken quarterback by today’s standards, that’s probably the way he likes it.
Carr’s Impressive 2020 season
Carr, who ranks 17th in passing yards, and 11th in passing TDs, is easy to overlook. He might not set the world alight with his big arm, like some of the NFL‘s gunslingers such as Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, or Josh Allen. But he is accurate, and has proven integral to the Raiders’ impressive start to this season. He ranks fourth in the league in QBR and fifth in passer rating. Carr also ranks fifth in completion percentage, and he has only thrown three interceptions all season.
Much like his personality, Carr’s brand of football is hardly the most “flashy,” but that didn’t prevent the seventh year veteran from making a number of impressive throws and leading his team on touchdown drives. The Raiders offense scored four touchdowns on five trips to the red zone against the Chiefs. They would have been 5/5 if receiver Bryan Edwards would have caught Carr’s pass on 3rd and goal in the second quarter.
The relationship between the quarterback and head coach Jon Gruden, is strengthening each play. Gruden’s trust in Carr seems to be growing, as on 9/10 third downs, he placed the ball in Carr’s hands to make the play.
Frustratingly for the Raiders, drops became a theme in Sunday Night’s game. Arguably Carr’s strongest throw of the night – a 36 yard pass downfield on 3rd and 4 – was dropped by Nelson Agholor. Fullback Alec Ingold also had a couple of key drops on the night. Despite these setbacks, Carr was still able to find tight end Jason Witten for the go-ahead touchdown with just under two minutes remaining.
Although Patrick Mahomes was able to connect with Travis Kelce to win the game for the Chiefs, this should not detract from what was a promising performance from Jon Gruden’s team. The Raiders were leading through large parts of this game, just falling at the last hurdle. They already beat the Chiefs 40-32 in Week 5, and came within seconds of completing a sweep over their AFC West rivals.
Derek Carr Leads Push for the Playoffs
Given that only two of the Raiders six remaining opponents currently have a winning record, Gruden’s team will expect to win the majority of their remaining games. Now 6-4, the Raiders have a strong chance of making the playoffs. They’re currently one of nine AFC teams with six or more wins. But when you consider their easier schedule, and how well they played the Chiefs twice, they will surely be confident of securing one of three wildcard spots.
Potentially the most overlooked team in the NFL, the Raiders will surely take away some positives from Sunday’s game. Going toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl champions, and very nearly winning, the Raiders have proven that they can compete with the AFC’s elite. And what’s more, the silver and black know that with Derek Carr at the helm, they always have a chance to win.
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