When the Raiders host the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night, quarterback Derek Carr says he’s going to hold nothing back. With three games remaining in a disappointing 6-7 season, the Raiders’ offense needs to score early and often if the team’s slim hopes of winning the division are to come true.
So Carr, who has struggled at times in 2017 — including in last weekend’s loss to the Chiefs — says he’s going to come out throwing. He says head coach Jack Del Rio has told him to take his shots downfield.
“Play faster, don’t think so much, man, just play,” Carr told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “And that’s stuff that I can work on – not having to think so much. Just go out there and what (Del Rio) is saying, let it rip, cut it loose, we’ve all heard different ones. But just go out there, man, and cut it loose and play. That’s something I’m looking forward to.”
The deep shots downfield were Carr’s signature plays in 2016, but he’s been far less successful throwing long this year. Del Rio says he isn’t sure why.
“I’ve always considered him really an accurate deep-ball thrower,” said Del Rio this week. “We’ve taken a few shots and haven’t been able to connect on them, or not as many as we’d like. … If we had the answer we’d utilize it right now. We’re not going to wait. We’re trying to execute the best we can. That’s definitely something we haven’t done as well this year.”
The stats certainly show that Carr has been far less effective on his deep throws this season as compared with 2016.
According to Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group, using stats from the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Carr has completed just 15-of-53 throws of 20 or more yards downfield and has a passer rating of 58.6 on those attempts, which ranks 30th in the NFL. He has five touchdown passes and six interceptions on those passes.
In 2016, Carr was 26-of-56 on deep passes for eight TDs, two interceptions and a passer rating of 117.6, which ranked fifth in the league.
Carr will go against a vulnerable Dallas pass defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL. The Cowboys are giving up just over 234 yards passing per game and have allowed 24 TD passes, the third highest total in the league.
Kickoff at the Oakland Coliseum for the game between the Raiders and 7-6 Cowboys is set for 5:30 p.m.