Programming note: Tony Sparano, Jason Tarver and Greg Olson are scheduled to address the media today beginning at 1:30 p.m. Watch the live stream right here.
Derek Carr’s first professional start came in the preseason finale against Seattle. Seahawks starters played just one series of that final tune-up, but the Raiders rookie quarterback threw at Richard Sherman twice on that drive.
Conclusions can’t be drawn from such a sample size, but a look at the first five games of the regular season shows that Carr is not afraid to throw at top-tier cornerbacks.
He threw at New England shutdown corner Darrelle Revis more than anyone else this season according to Pro Football Focus, with five completions for 63 yards and a 110 passer rating in six targets. He went right after San Diego’s Brandon Flowers last week, including a 77-yard bomb to Andre Holmes that started the scoring.
He didn’t shy away from Houston’s Jonathan Jospeh and Miami’s Cortland Finnegan either.
Carr hopes you don’t take that as arrogance. He’s not trying to prove something with pass selection. He’s simply letting coverage dictate where the ball goes.
"I know we can say, 'Hey, you threw at him. You threw at him,'" Carr said. “It’s not an arrogant thing. It’s not one of those things at all. Trust me, I know where they are and I’m very careful about where we’re throwing it and what routes we’re throwing."
Carr has another tough cornerback to deal with on Sunday, when Patrick Peterson comes to town with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s widely considered among the NFL’s top defensive backs, and has the ability to cause havoc in the secondary.
“I’ll know where he is every snap, but to me, I have to go through my reads,” Carr said. “Like I tell you guys, if I were just to eliminate one side of a play or a progression, I’m hurting us and I can’t do that. I’ve got to be able to trust that our guys will make the plays against whoever is guarding them. But I promise you, I know where those guys are at all times as soon as I break the huddle.”
Interim head coach Tony Sparano was complimentary of Carr’s approach. While he will asked for a certain receiver at times and play caller Greg Olson can scheme to exploit certain receiver-cornerback matchups, Carr simply follows the rules given to him and throws the ball according to them.
“It’s a good thing for a young quarterback to continue to go through progressions and trust whatever (their) read tells (them) to do. That’s where the ball should go,” Sparano said. “He’s not being spooked really by anybody that way. It’s not a disrespect to any of our opponents or anything like that, Revis is Revis and so on and so forth. I think that it’s just a good thing for us that he’s going through the progressions the way he’s going through them and making his reads and not letting a player spook him as opposed to, 'This is what my read tells me to do with the ball.'”