weather icon Clear

Raiders mailbag: Derek Carr’s struggles continue from last year

Want to be a part of the R-J Raiders mailbag? Send NFL writer Gilbert Manzano your Raiders questions and hot takes. Tweet him @GManzano24 or email gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Here’s the latest mailbag:

The excuses were there to explain why Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had a disappointing 2017 season.

Carr didn’t have a full offseason to prepare because he was recovering from a broken fibula. Four games into the season, he fractured his back against the Denver Broncos and was expected to be out two to six weeks. Carr only missed one game.

First-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing was made the scapegoat for the Raiders’ struggles in the vertical game.

The excuses aren’t there anymore, and Raider Nation is starting to lose patience with its franchise quarterback after a nightmare performance in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

“Dude, all you did was dink and dunk again, just like last year,” Jared Skaggs said about Carr in a Facebook comment. “You blew it, lost us the game. You’re not the same player anymore. Your confidence is gone. You panic right when you feel pressure now. … You got paid and now you’re struggling. I’m sorry, but you’re not our future anymore.”

It’s WAY too soon to give up on Carr, but his struggles with the deep ball are concerning. Maybe he is a little gun-shy after his injuries the past two years.

Carr threw three interceptions, including a pick-six during the 33-13 loss to the Rams. The worst of the three was by far the second interception when Carr threw it 10 yards in front of Jordy Nelson.

A quarterback making $25 million per season shouldn’t be making rookie mistakes like that. Now that Khalil Mack is in Chicago, all the blame and pressure will fall on Carr’s shoulders.

The Raiders essentially chose to pay him over Mack. He needs to prove that the Raiders made the right move.

Let’s not forget, Carr started 12 of 13 for 145 passing yards against the Rams. It wasn’t all bad in Week 1.

“Do you think Carr will do better in Mile High?” — Fernando Melero (Facebook)

This could be the game that Carr exorcises his demons and proves that he’s still the same quarterback that turned in an MVP-type season in 2016 before the season-ending injury.

Carr injured his back last season after taking a big hit against the Broncos in Denver. He can face his fears, if he has any, by picking apart a Broncos defense that features star edge rusher Von Miller.

There might be more dink-and-dunk passes versus Denver’s talented pass rush, but maybe this time Carr gets his wide receivers involved to give them opportunities for yards after the catch.

A victory over an AFC West rival will quiet the Carr critics.

“Where was Cooper?” — William Bebe Salazar (Facebook)

A question that was asked often last year about Amari Cooper.

Cooper had another quiet outing after only recording one reception for nine yards versus the Rams. Cooper didn’t find himself open often against Rams cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

But it’s not like Carr was looking his way. Raiders coach Jon Gruden admitted that he and Carr didn’t get Cooper involved enough in the offense.

They might try to force feed him against the Broncos. Cooper needs to have a big season if he wants to receive a nice extension at the end of the year.

“What does Johnathan Hankins bring to the D-line?” — Alex Chisholm (Facebook)

That’s how bad the Raiders’ defensive line was in Week 1. The team was forced to look through the slim list of available defensive linemen for reinforcements.

Hankins could play a lot with defensive tackles Justin Ellis and P.J. Hall nursing injuries.

There was a lot of hype coming into the season around rookies Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and Hall. It was clear Monday they’ll need time to develop.

Hankins’ experience as a starter with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants could help the team.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Raiders, Rams to hold joint practices in August

The “Hard Knocks” television crew gained more material Monday, as the Raiders finalized their plan to host the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams for a pair of joint practices this summer.

Media preparation part of rookie program for Raiders

Dylan Mabin stood behind a lectern Tuesday on an elevated stage inside the Raiders’ meeting room, scouring over about 20 of his fellow rookies.