Chief Among Them: Derek Carr must reverse course against Kansas City for the Raiders to become truly great.
Raider Nation can feel it. There’s legitimate excitement surrounding their beloved squad. AFC West title, AFC West Conference crown, and a Super Bowl appearance, all are within reach and — gasp! — the national media is abuzz regarding the Oakland Raiders’ renaissance.
However, let’s be real: Can the Raiders and Derek Carr be great if they cannot hurdle the Kansas City Chiefs obstacle?
Since Dec. 2014, the Arrowhead boys have handed the Silver & Black donuts. That would be 0 wins in the last five meetings between the two: 0-for-5. The Chiefs outpace the Raiders by a score of 155-97. Whether it is fair or not, there is one Raider in particular that shoulders the load and the abysmal record — Derek Carr.
Don’t get it twisted. Carr is the fast-ascending young gunslinger who continues to open eyes with his MVP-caliber play, and the Raiders go nowhere without No. 4 under center.
However, for as great as Carr can be, he has been subdued by KC. Even as fans come up with excuses in his defense, this cannot be disregarded. Carr himself has been dismissive of such a fact or statement.
“Everyone asks, ‘They’ve beaten you this many times,’ and these things and all of that. When I’m preparing for these guys, it never goes through my head,” Carr told ESPN before Oakland’s eventual Dec. 8, 21-13 loss to Kansas City. By the way, Carr was a TD-less 17 for 41, 117-yard dud in that pivotal clash.
No more, that Chiefs monkey needs to come off Carr’s back this season. A 1:1 2017 would suffice. A sweep would be grand. In six career games against the bitter AFC West rival, Carr (1-5) has completed 136 of 247 passes (55 percent) for 1,215 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has also absorbed 18 sacks.
Yes, Carr is not the sole reason the Raiders have failed to get a W. But the football life of an NFL QB isn’t always reasonable. They get the jeers for the bad and the cheers for the good.
While the Chiefs have been mum about the success against Carr — head coach Andy Reid refuses to talk about it, and cornerback Marcus Peters comes closest to public trash talk — there could be an underlying reason why KC makes Carr sputter.
During the 2016 Pro Bowl prep, an NFL Films camera crew caught Reid saying to Carr: “I would have taken you, but I had just taken Alex (Smith).”
Reid, the meticulous game planner, eyed Carr before the 2014 draft. Let that digest then marinate a while. Reid would have scouted Carr, gotten his strengths and weaknesses all analyzed. Moreover, as the Raiders battle the Chiefs, Reid gets to add a little more to that analysis.
It is time for Carr to rewrite that little black book.