Oakland Raiders Film Room: Week 12 (Chiefs)

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Pumping The Clutch

Derek Carr had a really up and down game. He missed receivers, nearly threw interceptions, and stared down his targets. When the game was on the line though, he came through with an excellent drive down field ending in a TD pass to James Jones for the win. It speaks volumes that the young QB kept his head up and managed to work through his struggles only to find his stride at the end of the game. Much of the accuracy and coverage recognition stuff can be learned as he develops. It’s much more difficult to learn to be able to not let your mistakes take oneself mentally out of the game.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Ignore offensive schematics, route concepts, and personnel groupings for a minute and focus on quarterback reads and technique. Derek Carr kills this early 3rd quarter drive by himself with back-to-back near interceptions from the same exact mistakes. Carr misses pre-snap reads, stares down receivers, and ignores inside defenders working outside.

On the first play (top .GIF), Carr fails to recognize the zone coverage and numbers disadvantage on the three receiver side. Look at the alignments of the defenders. Two safeties. One aligned over the middle of the field and one aligned over the #2 receiver on the three receiver side. Back side corner is about 8 yards deep looking into the backfield. This already screams zone, but the most important read is to follow. On the three receiver side, LB Justin Houston (#50) is lined up BETWEEN the #2 and #3 receivers looking into the backfield and nickelback Husain Abdullah (#39) is lined up INSIDE of both the LB and the #3 receiver looking directly at Carr. He’s specifically there to jump a route. Carr need to recognize the personnel and coverage before the snap to see that he’s at major disadvantage throwing to that side. Meanwhile the backside flat route is wide open, but Carr doesn’t even look in that direction.

On the second play it’s now 3rd and seven and Kansas City sends a huge blitz. Carr makes the correct decision about who to throw to but shows both poor eye and foot discipline before making the throw. He begins by looking left during his drop, alerting LB Josh Mauga (#90) to break on the ball before it’s even thrown. Then he throws the pass far too late and off his back foot resulting in another near interception. He’s lucky neither of these passes were caught for pick-6s.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

If there’s any time in which staredowns work in the favor of the quarterback it’s when utilizing double moves. Carr actually does a great job identifying the empty middle of the field on this play and it looked like he called an audible or a hot route here. Whatever it was, it worked perfectly. Kansas City Safety Ron Parker reads Carr’s eyes as he watches WR James Jones the whole way, even throwing a baby pump fake in there, and bites on the double move. Once Jones makes that second cut he’s wide open and Carr hits him for the TD capping off an impressive 4th quarter drive from the Derek Carr.

Carr clearly knows that he can use his eyes as weapons against the defense as he’s shown on several occasion. He still gets caught up too often staring receivers down and forcing plays, but it seems clear that he’s aware of it, and is working to improve. It’s going to be great to see him blossom over the next few years.