Derek Carr made his NFL debut on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing sixteen passes in what was the first time that Raiders fans as well as those who follow the league got to see the intriguing Fresno State second rounder play against what could be defined as professional caliber talent in the second and third quarters.
After thriving in the Mountain West Conference before struggling against USC in his final bowl game, some scouts and analysts were concerned about Carr’s ability to handle a pass rush. While Carr didn’t experience many blitz packages in the preseason debut, he showed poise in the pocket on mostly all of his passing downs in a game where he completed 62.5% of his passes for 74 yards.
If not for a harsh luck interception on a slightly high pass in the flat that Jamize Olawale tipped up to allow a Vikings interception, Carr’s debut would have been labelled an undeniable success as the rookie moved the ball down the field with the type of confidence you would want to see out of the quarterback of your offense. Keeping the Raiders on schedule for first downs during his drives, Carr moved the offense down the field after first quarter struggles for the team with the first unit on the field.
Thanks to NFL Rewind (And in this case, someone posting a pass by pass breakdown on YouTube) we have the power to provide you with a pass by pass breakdown of Carr’s first game as a Oakland Raider.
Pass One (3rd and 1 Raiders)
Using a short flat leak route to fullback Jamize Olawale, who is wide open near the first down marker on what was a smartly called passing play by offensive coordinator Greg Olsen to catch the Vikings off guard, Carr hits a simple three yard floater to get an eventual 11 yard gain for the Raiders on third and short.
Pass Two (1st and 10 Raiders)
Carr goes playaction on first down following the Olawale completion, throwing to the left on a curl route 15 yards downfield. The pass looked good and on target, but the Raiders receiver (it is hard to see the player’s number on the tape) is disturbed by the Vikings’ Derek Cox who forces a half drop/half swat on a good delivery from the quarterback.
Pass Three (2nd and 10 Raiders)
Following the incompletion on first down, Carr is given a play for another quick pass. This time Carr hits Denarius Moore slightly behind target but away from any Vikings defenders to pick up a relatively easy seven yard gain as Moore struggled to get downhill momentum after receiving the ball behind his body on a quick slant completion that got the offense back on schedule.
Pass Four (3rd and 3 Raiders)
Carr finds Moore on a quick short yardage pass again, this time to the left as Moore catches a screen and fights for the first down yardage to continue the drive for Oakland on a second straight successful third down conversion on the first drive of the game.
Pass Five (1st and 10 Raiders)
Olsen calls another passing play for Carr, going in the air for a fifth time and for the second straight first down looking for the long completion. Targeting tight end Nick Kasa, Carr throws his first errant pass of the drive by underthrowing Kasa by three yards on a pass that was simply too low for the tight end to reach.
Pass Six (3rd and 6 Raiders)
Following a four yard rush by Latavius Murray, Carr hits the running back on a screen pass to the left to fall just shy of the first down marker on the spot by the referee. Murray rushed for the first down after the Raiders went for a fourth down gamble.
Pass Seven (2nd and 9 Raiders)
Carr tries to find his fullback for the second time on the opening drive, but throws the flat route a few inches over target causing Olawale to mishandle the catch in a tipped interception to end the promising drive at the Vikings 40 yard line.
Pass Eight (1st and 10 Raiders)
On the Raiders 20 yard line, Carr bounces back from the interception by connecting on a out route to the flashing Juron Criner to the left for an eight yard gain.
Pass Nine (1st and 10 Raiders)
Passing on first down yet again, Carr finds Murray on a running back option route up the middle. Throwing just behind Murray, the pass is no problem for the second year back who caught it in stride on a back shoulder throw to get near the first down marker on a successful first down play.
Pass Ten (2nd and 2 Raiders)
With the pocket collapsing, Carr holds onto the ball rather than tucking and running for an open space that could have yielded first down yardage which causes a sack for minimal yardage on a second and two pass from the shotgun formation.
Pass Eleven (3rd and 2 Raiders)
Carr goes screen on third down, but unlike on the first drive the Vikings defense comes up with a timely tackle as Kurt Coleman killed Brian Leonhardt’s momentum in its tracks to force a punt on a Raiders two minute drill before halftime following the Carr sack.
Pass Twelve (1st and 10 Raiders)
Going through the air on the first play to open the second half, Carr finds Denarius Moore for the third time on the day for a first down. (This play does not feature on the YouTube video for some reason, but it was one of Carr’s best plays of the game)
Pass Thirteen (2nd and 10 Raiders)
Carr throws a screen to Olawale, who dropped the pass which looked on target this time. Carr and Olawale struggled to connect in the game, but it would have been exciting to see what Carr could have done with Marcel Reece in the backfield.
Pass Fourteen (3rd and 10 Raiders)
To end his night, Carr throws his sixth incompletion.