Programming note: Watch Raiders Press Conference Live today at 2:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California, or streaming live right here.
SEATTLE – Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr caught up with Tony Sparano after Sunday’s 30-24 loss to Seattle Seahawks and made his head coach a simple, yet sincere promise.
“I will get better.”
Carr knows he must. Sparano believes he will.
“He learns from these types of things,” he said. “The people in Oakland should be proud. They have a good quarterback here.”
Carr knows he wasn’t good enough to beat the Seahawks. He nearly did just the same, throwing two touchdowns to help trim a 21-point deficit to seven in a comeback attempt that fell just short.
His late scramble couldn’t overcome early mistakes. He threw two costly interceptions, the first a pick-six dynamically secured by Bruce Irvin, which led to 10 Seahawks points. Carr didn’t make two errant throws. There was more to it than that.
The passing game felt disjointed, if quarterback and receivers were playing a different game. Offense is an 11-man game, but Carr was a major part of the problem.
“I was trying to do too much and trying to save everything,” Carr said. “That’s when you get in trouble in this league. … I go back to college, where I had a game like this where they had me do too much and it hurt our team. I learned from it and got better. I know I just have to do my job.
“I just want to win so bad, and I just want to win so bad I tried to do too much and it hurt us in the end.”
Carr has done an excellent job of playing smart. He had just five interceptions in seven games entering Sunday, and hadn’t thrown a pick since Week 6.
He got in trouble by trying to be too perfect, taking unnecessary risks to make game-changing plays.
It’s hard to blame him. The Raiders fell short in three straight losses. 0-8 was on the horizon.
Carr tried to push the ball and play savior. It obviously didn’t work, and he ended up contributing heavily to this defeat.
Carr’s performance provides just cause to be critical. His ability to rebound should give the Raiders hope. Sunday’s game could’ve spiraled out of control, with Carr trying the same tactics expecting different results. Instead, Carr realized he was part of the problem and adjusted accordingly.
“I thought, 'Am I going to go in the tank, and go out there in the second half and just assume they got us, or am I going to man up and go out and fight to win a football game?' I am always going to man up and fight. You find out a lot about people’s character in hard times, and I have found out a lot about myself today.”
There’s significant talk about Carr being ahead of the rookie learning curve because of his older brother’s experience, that he’s better equipped to start and succeed early on. That may be true, but it’s unfair to assume he’s a ready-made franchise quarterback. When praising Carr's strengths or critiquing his performance, always tack "for a rookie" to the end of your assessment.
He alone can’t save the 2014 Raiders. There are too many holes, too many issues to fix. The Raiders need Superman at quarterback, and Carr is a young Clark Kent learning to master his gifts.
The season is halfway through and already lost. Carr isn’t the reason why. He’s doing the best he can under the circumstances, trying to elevate the play of a bad team while learning on the job.
We forget he’s a work in progress, albeit with a smidge more seasoning than other quarterbacks in his draft class.
While he’s been good (for a rookie), I promise you this: Sunday won’t be the last time Carr makes mistakes the Raiders can’t afford.
Carefully watch the aftermath. See how he responds.
If he pulls out of a tailspin, continues to fight and learn and improve, count it as a small victory.
Carr has the smarts, arm strength and moxie to play in this league. So have many others consumed by expectations and losing’s emotional drain. Carr insists he won’t cave if the Raiders continue to fall.
“This game is hard,” Carr said. “That’s what I am learning—it’s hard. It’s hard to go to work every day and all those things, but, with the way I was raised, the person I am, and what I believe, continuing the fight is not going to be a problem. I promise you, it’s not ruining me.”