As the Las Vegas Raiders travel to New Orleans for their Week 8 matchup, quarterback Derek Carr will be reacquainted with an old foe. We’re referring to former Kansas City Chiefs star Tyrann Mathieu.
As the season hangs in the balance after a 2-4 start, Mathieu and the Saints’ defense are looking to spoil things for the Raiders. Let’s not forget that Mathieu has done historically well against the Silver and Black. Guess what? Carr hasn’t forgotten about the Honey Badger either.
Derek Carr and the Honey Badger
“Yeah, him and I, we know each other well, and we’ve talked off the field. We know each other and have great respect for one another when it comes to playing this game. The things that he’s been able to do from college; his story; the injuries; different teams; all the success; the Super Bowl; all of those things; the player that he’s become and the man that he’s become. I’m just happy for him and all that. Especially with a coach like DA [Dennis Allen], just to move him around and be able to do things with him, intensify his skillset, he’s going to put him on display,” said Carr according at his latest press conference.
Carr is widely regarded as one of the most respectable players in the NFL. Rarely, if ever, have you heard of another player be disparaging toward No. 4. Carr was certainly complimentary towards Mathieu this week. Respect aside, Carr is fully cognizant of the fact thar Mathieu and Dennis Allen’s defense is nothing to take lightly. “This defense, all of them are physical, they’re violent at the point of attack, they’re aggressive, and there are a lot of great people on that defense that I’ve gotten to know over the years. And none of us like each other this week, but I do have respect for those guys whenever we’re not playing them.”
What about the Saints’ defense?
Statistically speaking, the Saints’ defense isn’t exactly elite. They’re ranked 32nd in points surrendered and 19th in terms of passing touchdowns given up. Will Carr have his way with the Saints’ secondary on Sunday? Historically speaking, the advantage that the Saints have heading into Sunday’s contest is Mathieu’s familiarity with Carr.
In case Raider Nation has forgotten, it was Mathieu who once called out Carr for being predictable on offense. That took place after a Chiefs/Raiders game where Mathieu pointed out the following: “The biggest thing is we knew that when (Carr) did take shots downfield, we understood it pre-snap by the formation, and it put us in position to make a play. Tight ends, running backs, check-downs, that’s his game. We were able to capitalize when he did try to throw it downfield.”
Of course, we have to take things in context. That quote is from 2019. Carr’s game has evolved since then, especially now with Josh McDaniels at the helm. The Raiders have been a power, run-heavy team the last few weeks, with Josh Jacobs leading the way. Is Carr going to take his shots downfield? Probably. But this isn’t the same predictable offense that Jon Gruden ran, the one that Mathieu faced off against during his time with the Chiefs.
Tyrann Mathieu vs. Derek Carr and the Raiders
One final thing to keep in mind is Mathieu’s previous run versus the Raiders. From 2019â€“2021, the Honey Badger recorded 16 solo tackles, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions in seven games against the Silver and Black. Last season, Mathieu had some impressive outings in the cold months of November and December against the Raiders. In those games, he amassed nine tackles and picked off Carr once.
Mathieu is still proving to be a tackling machine in the secondary for the Saints. So far, he’s tallied 26 solo tackles and one interception. In addition, a deeper look reveals he’s allowed just under six yards per reception when targeted, which has only happened six times this season. More importantly, there are zero touchdowns counted against him. Will Carr fare any better against a familiar foe on Sunday?
*Top Photo: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports