Whether It’s Physical Or Mental, Derek Carr Hasn’t Been The Same Since His Back Injury

Derek Carr has been very clear when asked.

His back is fine.

But after re-watching Carr against the Titans and Jets in the first two weeks of the season, there is clearly something different going on. He was much more accurate and noticeably comfortable in the pocket at the start of the season. Even when pressure came, Carr seemed to see the field and make good decisions.

For practical purposes, Carr’s back probably is fine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t affecting him.

Based on information from medical experts, where Carr would be hampered the most by a transverse process fracture (or three in Derek’s case) is in his throwing motion.

Carr doesn’t appear to be labored in his throwing motion, but the laser throws have been scarce this season and that is probably not coincidence.

For better or worse, Carr has always trusted his arm to squeeze throws into tight windows. He’s shying away from those this year and it’s entirely against his instincts to not trust his arm.

The play (below) was drawn up for Holton at the top and the design worked perfectly, but for some reason Carr held the football.

When has Carr ever not thrown this pass?

He definitely could have made the throw.

Carr sailed the ball 53 yards against the Broncos three weeks ago, but for whatever reason he didn’t pull the trigger on one of Sunday’s best big-play opportunities – and it wasn’t because his eyes were somewhere else.

Derek has told reporters in recent weeks that his rookie year was the toughest of his career, but his body language would indicate this season has been much more difficult.

There was nothing exciting about losing all those games as a rookie, but you could see Carr developing and growing – even when he struggled down the stretch, he was having fun and gaining confidence. The energy and enthusiasm never left his face.

This season the message from Derek hasn’t changed, but you don’t have to be an expert in psychology to see the burden (whether it be physical or mental) he is carrying.

Whatever it is that’s limiting him, hopefully it’s something the Raiders can pinpoint in the offseason and correct it.

twitter: @raidersbeat


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