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Gordon: No need to panic about Derek Carr’s Week 1 outing

Updated September 12, 2022 - 10:24 pm

All three of Derek Carr’s interceptions Sunday were egregious in their own way.

The first a laser that instead required touch as Darren Waller broke free up the seam. The second a late underthrow that required more oomph — or a more timely release — as Davante Adams outpaced double coverage down the sideline. The third a force to Hunter Renfrow, who was blanketed by a defensive back who would secure the final takeaway.

Yet the Raiders are only 0-1. Like 15 other teams across the NFL.

Carr’s performance Sunday during a 24-19 loss to the rival Chargers certainly wasn’t satisfactory, but it isn’t worth the panic that it seems to have induced. He threw the three picks and was also sacked five times behind an unreliable offensive line that seemingly allowed pressure every time he dropped deep into the pocket.

And the Raiders still possessed the ball with 3:30 to play — and with it a chance to beat the Chargers on the road.

A victory Sunday in the home opener against the Arizona Cardinals will have the Raiders back on track and in position to make a move within the ensuing three weeks. That stretch features games against the other two divisional opponents — and an opportunity to rectify the wrongs of Week 1.

“Learning how to win is not something you get to carry over from one year to the next,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said Monday.

Been there before

Carr proved last year that he can learn how to win, though. Perhaps some panic would be warranted if he hadn’t.

He just quarterbacked the Raiders to a 10-7 record during the most tumultuous season in their history. That very accomplishment demonstrated his steadfast commitment to leadership and the franchise.

His intangibles didn’t suddenly dissipate. If anything, they emerged during a second half Sunday that the Raiders won 16-7.

It’s the other things that come with quarterbacking that Carr needs to do better against Arizona.

“There’s a lot that goes into passing the ball, obviously,” McDaniels said before explaining what he uncovered after reviewing film of the loss. “Reading the coverage, making a decision where you want to go with the ball and then obviously the actual mechanics of throwing it the way you want to throw it. Any number of those things could deter us from having success.”

Carr chalked up the interceptions to aggression, explaining Sunday that “we came in with an aggressive mindset, especially with all the weapons that we have.”

But that isn’t the problem he posited it to be.

The Raiders wouldn’t have traded for Adams or extended Renfrow and Waller if they didn’t want Carr to be aggressive pushing the ball down the field.

What they need him to be is aggressive.

And accurate and decisive.

“We are not going to overly freak out, but we are going to correct and demand more from myself and more from everybody,” Carr said after the game. “We are going to try to move on and get better. That’s the process I believe in. That’s what I believe.”

‘Happens organically’

For what it’s worth, Carr completed 68.7 percent of his passes the last four years. That while playing without Adams, who had 10 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown Sunday as the best wide receiver in the NFL.

Just because the offense didn’t click for Carr on Sunday doesn’t mean it won’t ever click.

The statistics suggest it will.

“I think it happens organically. When we see it clearly, we understand what it is we all need to do a little bit better,” McDaniels said, “and then we make those necessary adjustments during the week of practice and then play that way to get the results we’re talking about.”

Whether it clicks to the point that the Raiders can win a division that includes Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and now Russell Wilson is an entirely separate story.

One that can’t possibly be written this early in the season.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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