Oakland Raiders Film Room: DEN at OAK

4 of 5

Phantom Pressure and the Interception

4th quarter. Derek Carr has been sacked three times already and pressured even more. Raiders are down 9 to 7. A field goal will put them ahead but within takeover distance. A touchdown forced Denver to get a touchdown of their own, something they haven’t done up to this point.

Oakland starts the drive on their own 11 yard line. The first six plays of the drive go for 7 yards, 2 yards, 5 yards, 3 yards, incomplete, and then a massive bail-out 21 yard penalty on a roughing the passer play. Oakland isn’t exactly killing it just yet. Their next two plays get them to 3rd and 5 for a make or break play of the game.

Oakland chooses to run a crossing concept they’ve been fairly successful with in the game. They’ve already ran two slightly different versions of it, but essentially they sent their tight end and two nearest receivers into the middle to cross each other at different depths.

Derek Carr actually gets decent blocking. The shallow routes allow for Carr to get the ball out early, but he doesn’t have to rush.

But rushing is exactly what Carr does. Despite the protection, Carr behaves as though he feels phantom pressure. He throws the ball while falling backwards, without the slightest setting of his feet or squaring of his shoulders. The result is a horribly inaccurate pass which makes its way to DB Chris Harris, Jr., nearly five yards behind the two crossing receivers. I understand that some people might want to blame one of the receivers for not making a play on the ball, but this was on Carr. That ball was not catchable for either receiver, and definitely not clear to which receiver he was throwing.

It wasn’t 100% on Derek Carr, however. There’s no doubt that the surprise pressure and sacks from earlier plays were incorporated into his decision making later in the game.

Derek Carr needs to feel safe in order to grow as a passer. It’s hard enough being an NFL quarterback. It’s even harder being a starting NFL quarterback when you are still developing. It’s nearly impossible to do that as a quarterback that can’t trust his offensive line to protect him.

Next: The Big Punt