Oakland Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has been one of the few things to be excited about this season. The young signal caller hasn’t had any outstanding performances, but considering the company he’s keeping, just staying alive is impressive.
But things will only get worse as teams start to realize how much he struggles under pressure.
Carr’s big knock coming out of college was that he lost his poise in the face of a heavy pass rush. Some were worried that Carr simply could not perform when teams brought the heat, which hurt his draft stock. The same pattern is developing, two games into his young career.
According to Pro Football Focus, Carr has attempted 44 passes without any pressure and 30 passes under pressure. Without pressure, Carr has completed 70.5% of his passes for 236 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 90.7. When pressured, Carr’s completion rate drops to 53.3%. He has thrown for 136 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 63.5.
Carr got lucky in his professional debut. He threw two errant passes, both of which should’ve been intercepted — they were dropped by cornerbacks. In his second game, Carr was not so fortunate. An ill-advised pass was intercepted and his failure to feel J.J. Watt bearing down on him forced another pick.
Granted, most quarterbacks, whether young or old, are better with time to survey the field. And part of Carr’s struggles under pressure needs to fall on his teammates as well. He’s been sacked only two times, but the Raiders have no running game. They’re 31st in the NFL in total rushing yards with 132 and 21st in yards per carry at 3.9 — and Carr leads the team with 57 rushing yards on five carries. Raiders running backs have combined for 69 yards in 27 carries: a meager 2.6 ypc.
Since the Raiders have shown no signs of being an effective team on the ground, opposing teams are going to start blitzing on a more consistent basis. So far teams have blitzed Carr 42.3% of the time, and Carr’s passer rating is 55.0 in those plays.
The Raiders signed 25-year-old wide receiver Vincent Brown, who was recently released by the Chargers. But even with an extra pass-catcher, Carr is in a nearly impossible position. The team’s defense “sucks,” and Carr — a rookie quarterback who was supposed to start the year behind Matt Schaub until the Raiders saw Schaub play for an entire offseason — is the entire offense. If that wasn’t pressure enough, now he’s going to face an onslaught of linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks making their way into the backfield. The Raiders better figure out a solution (more Latavius Murray?), and fast.