Derek Carr’s Return From Back Injury Wasn’t Just Physical, It Was Also Mental

Derek Carr hasn’t gone into great detail about what went wrong with the Raiders in 2017, but the consensus seems to be that a lot contributed to his (and the Raiders) forgettable season.

One of the earliest issues last year (along with coaching) was surely the back injury Carr suffered week four against the Broncos.

In four games before injuring his back, Carr’s quarterback rating was 100+ three times (including the game he was injured). In 11 games after the injury, Carr’s quarterback rating was above 100 only twice.

One of the concerning aspects, though, was the fact that Carr rarely seemed comfortable in the pocket following the injury – even when his back didn’t appear to be bothering him. Carr’s pocket presence from week six through the end of the year didn’t look like the quarterback who finished the 2016 season third in the league MVP vote.

One theory brought up by The Athletic’s Vic Tafur was that Carr’s pocket presence was effected by the broken bones in his back – a theory that Carr didn’t want to acknowledge during the season, but may have hinted at after the season.

“Injuries will never be something I talk about, especially during the season,” Carr said after the season in January. “But since it’s after the season, the [back issue] was one of those things that was there… I had to deal with it. I had to do certain things to manage it, but I just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want it to be an excuse. It was a want more than anything else. I didn’t want it to be a reason.”

For Raider fans who watched Carr struggle down the stretch in 2017, the 2018 preseason can’t come soon enough. It will be exciting to see the new offense under Jon Gruden, but more than anything else, a 2016 version of Derek Carr should be at the top of everyone’s wish list.

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