Derek Carr

Derek Carr struggles as Khalil Mack shines in Raiders’ third preseason game

The Oakland Raiders hosted the Arizona Cardinals in the oh-so-important third preseason game on Sunday night and the results were a mixed bag. Though they lost the game, it’s not the score that concerned Raiders fans, it was quarterback Derek Carr. On a night when the defensive front seven looked absolutely dominant, headlined by Khalil Mack, Carr and the offense looked absolutely brutal.

Carr seemed off from the very start. Part of that was due to the Cardinals defense, which controlled the line of scrimmage throughout. The Raiders’ rushing attack never got off of the ground, as running backs were routinely met in the backfield by swarms of tacklers. The passing game was constantly disrupted as Carr was forced to get rid of the ball early and was hit while throwing the ball a number of times. On the bright side of things, Carr did manage to keep from getting sacked.

Carr finished the game 18-for-34 with 213 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. That stat line isn’t so bad without the INT, but it doesn’t reflect what you saw on the field. Carr missed open receivers, under-threw guys, and made a few bad decisions — none worse than the pick-6 he threw. On his last play of the game, the Raiders ran a screen play and Carr attempted a pass he had no business throwing. The play was a bust and he should have just thrown the ball out of bounds.

This is far from the end of the world for Carr or the Raiders. You have to expect a second-year quarterback to go through some growing pains and this isn’t the last bad game Carr will have this year. He has a lot of potential, as well as plenty left to learn. He went up against a very good defense on Sunday and was given a huge serving of humble pie. Knowing Carr, he will take that to heart and spend extra time in the video room this week dissecting his performance. This is part of the process and what matters now is how he responds.

On the bright side of things, Mack and the defensive front seven looked unstoppable against the Cardinals. Much like the Cardinals controlled the line of scrimmage on defense, so did the Raiders. The Cards could not get a run game going and Carson Palmer spent the game being harassed by Oakland’s pass rush. He finished completing eight of his 22 passing attempts for 103 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times and by the end of the first half, both he and left tackle Jared Veldheer were more than ready to call it a night.

Mack finished the game with three tackles, two sacks and four quarterback hits. That doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story.

Mack simply could not be blocked on Sunday night. Even if he did not make it onto the stat sheet on every play, he had an impact on far and away the majority of offensive snaps for the Cards. Not only that, but unlike last season, he has others around him contributing. The Raiders finished with four sacks, six quarterback hits and eight tackles for loss. The defensive line also batted four passes at the line of scrimmage.

The offense won’t always play this poorly and the defense won’t always be this dominant. This is a Raiders team that still has a long way to go, but throughout the preseason certain areas have given fans reasons to be optimistic. This week, they got a reality check from the offense and a huge dose of hope from the defense.

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