Derek Carr has emulated the mindset of his childhood idol and Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant. Carr has admitted to studying countless hours of tape and analyzing the preparation and work ethic that went into his basketball muse becoming a five-time champion. This has instilled in Carr a confidence, determination, and intensity unmatched by many of his peers.
While this kind of uncanny fearlessness and desire to be great does wonders to build confidence for a player and his team (especially at the end of games where Carr has led 12 fourth-quarter comebacks since coming into the league), it has also put the fourth year quarterback in precarious spots and sometimes made it difficult for the Raiders to stay close early in games.
Critics of Bryant’s style of play often argued that he shot his team out of games or failed to involve his teammates early. This is a fault that can be attributed to Carr as well. In the Sunday night fiasco against Washington, fans watched on the second play of the game as Carr recklessly lobbed a deep throw to Amari Cooper which was easily picked off. While blame can be placed on the play calling, receivers not running their routes, and the offensive line not giving Carr the time he is usually blessed with, it is Carr who must know when taking a sack or throwing the ball away is the better option.
These 2017 Raiders do not need their quarterback to do it on his own or force the big play opportunities when a check down will do the job. No, it is not all on Carr for last week’s blowout loss, and the team will surely bounce back with a more thoughtful approach in Mile High against Denver’s stout defense. But it is Derek Carr who was given the well-deserved raise this offseason, and without him playing at an elite level this team cannot win deep in the playoffs.
Like Kobe Bryant, Derek Carr is not daunted by a poor performance and appears ready to show Raider Nation that last week was a mere blip in a long season. Still, Carr needs to control his emotions early in games and understand that forcing throws is not necessary with all the weapons around him. What the Raiders need most from their leader and quarterback is less “Mamba” mentality and more Derek Carr.