Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Raiders’ Derek Carr learns how to be a successful quarterback

The Raiders didn’t relax until the fourth quarter Sunday, up 37-6 in what would become a 37-29 win in San Diego. But quarterback Derek Carr, who thoroughly outplayed five-time Pro Bowler Philip Rivers, said head coach Jack Del Rio had his players nice and loose before the game started.

“Coach always stresses to just do your job, don’t do anything superhuman and don’t do anything outside yourself,” Carr said. “Come in and do your job, and I feel like that’s what we did.”

Carr did his job well, completing 24 of 31 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating of 137.7 was the seventh best on the road in the history of the Raiders franchise.

Carr has 11 touchdown passes on the year, and is the first Raider since Rich Gannon (2002) with at least 10 passing touchdowns through six games.

“He’s a good young player that is making strides,” Del Rio said at Monday’s weekly news conference. “He’s growing in our system. He’s growing in his knowledge of what it takes to be successful in this league.

“It’s a week-to-week league. Very quickly we will move past this one and on to the next opportunity against a very difficult opponent.”

The Raiders (3-3) have a tough test next in the Jets (4-2). It will help if they can establish the run again so that play-action plays work as well as they did against the Chargers.

Carr was 7-of-10 for 120 yards and two touchdowns when he used the play fake Sunday. That includes his 52-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, where the rookie receiver took a bubble screen pass and made like a video game character dodging oncoming bad guys.

The 120 play-action yards were the second most of Carr’s two-year career.

(Rivers, on the other hand, was 2-of-6 for minus-1 yard and an interception using play-action.)

Cooper had 59 yards after the catch, the most by a receiver against the Chargers this season. He had led all receivers in the NFL with 236 yards after the catch coming into the game.

“He’s a highlight player on their team,” Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “They give the ball to him many different ways, whether it’s a screen, a pass downfield or lining him up in the slot. They move him around so they can get him as many touches as possible.”

Cooper finished with 133 yards receiving Sunday and became the first rookie since Mike Ditka in 1961 to have three 100-yard receiving games in his team’s first six games.

Del Rio is not going to gush about Carr, Cooper or his improving defense. But he is happy.

“What we saw yesterday was an example of all three phases played well and it came together for us,” Del Rio said. “There’s more there. It’s not like we arrived or anything. But it certainly was the best football we played to date.”

Briefly: Del Rio said rookie linebacker Neiron Ball had an MRI exam on his injured knee and was awaiting results. … Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. constantly yells at his players, “Nothing over the top,” and, in the first half, they held Rivers to 4-of-11 passing for 50 yards and two interceptions on passes that traveled more than 5 yards downfield. He was 11-of-12 for 55 yards on passes that went 5 yards or less.

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