Carr Must Stay Cool and Poised Under Fire
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Derek Carr has been the least sacked quarterback in the league. Even with injuries wreaking so much havoc, the Raiders have fielded one of – if not, the – best offensive line in the league.
They’ve kept Carr very clean, giving up just nine sacks on the season – and a couple of those were simply Carr rolling out of bounds rather than taking the hit.
Given that Oakland’s line has kept the pocket so clean for Carr, he’s had the time to sit back and go through his progressions and make some plays. Given the amount of time he’s had to operate, Carr has been pretty surgical and the offense as a whole has taken a big step forward.
But then, the Raiders have not faced a pass rush quite like Denver’s yet this season.
Led by Von Miller and his 8.5, Denver is tied for the league lead in sacks with 26. But it’s hardly a one man show. With contributors in Derek Wolfe, Shane Ray, and now DeMarcus Ware, back from injury, the vaunted Great Wall of Oakland is going to have their hands full.
Carr is very likely going to face a lot of pressure from the Broncos. Likely, more pressure than he’s faced all season long. To his credit, when he’s faced pressure this season, Carr has been fantastic. He’s been poised, calm, and has made some big plays.
But again, he’s not faced a pass rush like he will face in Denver’s. With pressure likely to be coming from all angles, Carr will need to keep his head on a swivel and avoid taking a big hit.
Last year, against a Denver pass rush that was just as – if not more – formidable than the 2016 version, Carr wasn’t great. In two meetings, he went 38 of 68 (56 percent) for 384 yards with three touchdowns and one costly interception.
More disturbingly, he took a combined seven sacks in those two meetings.
For the Raiders to have a shot at beating Denver – and frankly, to win this division – Carr is simply going to have to play better against the Broncos and their hellacious pass rush.
Though statistically speaking, he’s not “better” than he was at this point last season, there is a quality about him and his game this year that is “better.” He’s making big plays at crucial times – and more importantly, he’s limiting his mistakes. Especially the costly ones.