Game Pass: Examining Both Of Derek Carr’s Costly Interceptions Against The Dolphins

It’s hard to know what the Raiders really are after three games. They’ve led in every game (for most of every game) but for whatever reason, the offense seems to sputter or turn the ball over when it matters most. For Derek Carr, the passing numbers are there, but the touchdowns (2) and interceptions (5) aren’t where they need to be.

After three weeks, Carr is sixth in the NFL in passing yards (936), second in completion percentage (76.6), and sixth in yards per attempt – remember, that’s the stat his critics enjoy harping on the most.

So what’s going on with the interceptions?

Thanks to NFL Game Pass, we can look at exactly what Carr saw on each of his interceptions against the Dolphins.

First, the deep throw to Cooper. Amari, for whatever reason, didn’t think he was going to get the ball and stopped on the route. Carr’s pass landed around the five yard-line (a little over 60 yards in the air), but Cooper never got past the 15. The image below shows how badly the Miami secondary was beaten. Even if Cooper doesn’t make the play here, what a great opportunity for pass interference with two defenders not looking for the ball.

Next was the critical interception in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the loss.

Carr recognized the coverage and audibled to what he wanted – an outside throw to Martavis Bryant against man coverage with no safety help. Carr knew that both offensive tackles were going to chop block the ends which meant there would be time for only one read on the play.

For whatever reason, though, Bryant wasn’t physical at the line of scrimmage and let himself get tied up with cornerback Xavien Howard. Had Bryant shown more effort, he might have drawn a flag for illegal contact beyond five yards, but instead he allowed Howard to funnel him to the sideline. Bryant actually stepped out of bounds (below) so even if he had scored, it wouldn’t have counted.

On a side note, right tackle T.J. Clemmings whiffed on his chop block and Carr ended up getting hit hard as he released the ball. Had he held the ball a split second longer, the result would probably have been a sack fumble.

On a positive note, look at rookie left tackle Kolton Miller. Exactly the block the play called for.

Below is the hit from Cameron Wake as Carr makes the throw.

One thing to keep in mind about Carr is he does a lot of thinking before the snap. He is excellent at reading coverages and doesn’t get fooled a lot. Where this should help receivers is that often times they know their number is being called before the snap. So why the lack of effort from both Cooper and Bryant when they knew they were the primary targets?

Their questionable effort doesn’t take all the blame away from Carr (he could have thrown Bryant’s ball out of the endzone), but instead of picking apart the quarterback based on a bad throw or box score, it’s important to know what actually happened on the plays in question. Lazy routes will always reflect on the quarterback more than the wide receiver and for all the conversation about Carr’s struggles in Gruden’s offense, both of his interceptions in Miami had as much (and probably more) to do with the receivers than anyone else.

twitter: @raidersbeat


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