Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hopes his team can continue the upward trajectory they’ve been on over the past two seasons to ultimately become a playoff team this season. Since his rookie season in 2014 the Raiders have improved from 3-13 to 7-9 last season. Carr joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and talked about the positives of the 2015 season but also the hurt of being just out of playoff range all season.
“They always put that little diagram up. ‘Who’s the Division Leaders,’ ‘Who’s in the Wildcard,’ and ‘Who’s in the Hunt,’ and we were always in the hunt,” Carr said. “We were always right there, and just being able to know you’re right there and being able to know where you stand and not accomplish it, it left a sick feeling in my stomach. That hurts.”
Why exactly does it hurt the young quarterback so much?
“Because I know how much effort I put into this, and I know how much effort my teammates and coaches put into this, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore. And so it’s just one of those little things that drives you, it’s just one of those little things, what do I need to do this time to better than I was last year? How do I prepare this year that it will be better suited for me to prepare than last year? Anything we can do to make sure, when that little diagram pops up we’re not just ‘in the hunt,’ we’re on the playoffs side of things.”
Carr’s brother David, a former quarterback and current analyst on NFL Network, recently critiqued Derek’s late game play, managing third downs, situational football, and the team losing five one-score games last year. The 25-year-old couldn’t argue his brother’s observations.
“He’d say the exact same thing to me if he was texting me, and its things I’ve talked to him about and shared with him. So when that came up, it wasn’t anything new to me because it’s stuff we’ve already talked about and stuff I truly believe,” Carr said. “I know at the end of games, I have to learn the management side of things, and I have learned it. I’ve learned how to manage games good at the end of games, and I’ve done things poorly at the end of games, and I know how to do it better.
“I’m growing. I’m trying to learn as fast as I can to help this team win. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistakes at the end of games last year. Hopefully those good times, those game winning drives, those kind of things, hopefully, we will have more of that than the other way.”
The Pro Bowler knows he needs to focus on the little things in order to have that success he’s looking for.
“It’s not even a turnover, it’s just like a third down situation taking a shot instead of moving the chains. Keep being smart with the ball and moving the chains and keeping the clock running,” Carr said. “There’s so much. Everyone wants to talk about rookie quarterback’s coming in and those things. I mean, you’re never going to stop learning. There’s so much to learn in such a short amount of time, and you’re expected to produce and you just hope you can learn on the fly.
“So these young guys coming in, I always give them that advice. Just make sure you soak in every opportunity and every chance you get to learn something and that way you can grow forward and help your team win.”
With the retirement of defensive players Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck, Carr acknowledged that is a huge leadership void in the locker room but doesn’t feel any added pressure to lead.
“That’s in my nature, that’s who I am. I’ve always been that way,” Carr said of being a leader. “Even when I was a rookie, when we were 0-10, I’m still leading because I know who I am, and I know what it takes to win. I know what it takes to be a championship level team. I know what everybody needs to do to see that, I know how to speak life into people, I know how to encourage dudes. I know how to get them going. Those are things that I was taught at a young age, from both my brothers, who are 9 years and 12 years older than me, so I was used to being around older guys. I was use to teaching them, trying to lead them. They would force me into those situations growing up.”
Carr also said when it’s time for leadership guidance, he and others will know and step up.
“There’s going to be a moment or two, where I’ll stand there and it will get kind of quiet, and I’ll be like well that’s when Tuck would use to say something, but now it’s me, now its Khalil [Mack], now its Bruce Irvin, it’s Rodney Hudson, it’s Donald Penn. Now those are our moments and we will definitely cease them,” Carr said. “We will definitely grab them by the horns, take it, and run with it, but it’s going to be different. It’s going to be different without those two in the locker room, but we’re ready to move.”