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SAN DIEGO – Derek Carr has a stack of spiral notebooks, with information designed for long-term use. The Raiders quarterback takes copious notes – handwritten, of course – as he preps for each game, outlining characteristics for each defensive coordinator and head coach he faces.
The Raiders’ specific game plan is set for other places. These notes are designed to provide a leg up when he sees certain coaches again.
This week was the rookie’s first time delving back into the archives. They provided a refresher course on San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano and head coach Mike McCoy before Sunday’s game at Qualcomm Stadium, Carr’s first double dip against an opponent.
“This will be my first time – I think, really, in my career, in life – that I’ve gotten to play someone twice in one year,” Carr said. “I’ve been really relying on the veterans in our room, (quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo) and (offensive coordinator Greg Olson), just asking them, obviously, the certain questions that rookies would have when you play someone twice.”
The obvious questions: How much of San Diego’s defensive approach could it change? How much could it stay the same?
“There will be adjustments,” Olson said. “I think he understands that part of it. For him, it’s been more so going back and looking at his notebook from the first game. Also, at the end of each game, we take notes not on personnel or things throughout the game that we learn. All the quarterbacks carry folders on that first opponent the first time they play them. He can go back through it to remind himself of different protection rules. There are always certain calls that they have to make that are relative to each opponent, so they refresh their memory on that. I think they just have a better feel on the longer you’re in the league or the longer you’re in the same division, the easier it gets that way.”
Carr isn’t the only one adjusting to playing a team twice. The Raiders are expected to have four rookie starters on Sunday, and each will remember what happened in a Week 6 loss.
“It may help that you understand their personnel, because you’ve gone up against these guys before,” cornerback T.J. Carrie said. “The veterans have done a good job telling us to expect change, especially for a team that’s coming off a bye. There will be new things, but we’ve watched a ton of tape on these receivers. We understand tendencies. Hopefully that will help.”
The Chargers have certainly done homework on the Raiders personnel, especially after the Silver and Black played them so tough last time around.
Carr is hoping his notebook, and past experience, will help the Raiders perform better on Sunday.
“You’ve played against them, you’ve seen them now,” Carr said. “For me as a rookie, that’s always something that’s unknown. You can see something on film, but until you’re really out there playing against somebody and you see him for the first time, you don’t really know. So you know the personnel and you’ve got notes on the personnel – things you remember – and that’s something that’s really helpful.”