OAKLAND – Derek Carr values victories over statistics. The Raiders rookie quarterback is 0-5 in the only statistical category he cares about, something he’ll remind you of even after the best of performances.
He made some mistakes in Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum, but Carr also proved that he can compete in this league.
He was 18-for-34 passing for 282 yards, four touchdowns and one costly interception late in the fourth quarter. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson took off the training wheels and allowed him to take shots downfield, and he seemed confortable collecting yards in chunks despite an NFL-worst 5.2-yards per pass attempt.
In a season essentially lost after five games, Carr is clearly a bright spot at a position where the Raiders have struggled to find stability over the last 10-15 years.
He’s grown as a leader and a pre-snap signal caller. On Sunday, he put forth his best performance. He didn’t lead his team to victory – that’s ultimately how quarterbacks are measured – but he’s clearly evolving into an efficient NFL quarterback.
“The kid is competitive, and he’s just getting better and better and better,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “On that first play, the first touchdown play, they came with pressure, we expected the pressure, the guys handled it pretty good up front, but Derek kept through the progression and getting the ball to the right guy, that’s progress. He’s continuously made progress in several football games here. I’m not just talking about one game right now, but he’s gotten better and better each week. You can see it today with how he performed.”
Carr’s confidence has grown as this progression has gone on. He’s fearless making throws – he even said he’d throw that pass intercepted by Jason Verrett in the fourth quarter 100 times over – and increasingly confident in his decisions.
“I’m trying to get better each week, because that means the Raiders are headed in the right direction,” Carr said. “We executed better as an offense. I feel like I am getting better each week, but that’s obviously not good enough because we didn’t win. I’m getting better and better, but I still have a long ways to go.”
Carr earned the respect of his counterpart across the field. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was impressed by Carr’s moxie and his ability to make changes at the line so early in his career.
“He played he really well,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “He was efficient. You could tell he was making some checks and handling things at the line with a lot of our blitzes and stuff and doing a nice job. He showed great poise. I don’t know him at all. I was just able to speak to him briefly afterwards and tell him shoot he’s got one heck of a career ahead of him if he keeps it up like this.”
Sparano details Carr's improvements