KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Derek Carr lost 10 straight games to start his NFL career. He finished his rookie year 3-13, a campaign where Dennis Allen got fired after four weeks and the Raiders lost a game 52-0.
He thought that was as bad as it got. Until this year.
Carr now considers the 2018 season the hardest on record. He didn't hem and haw. This season was unequivocally the worst.
Absolutely. 100 percent," Carr said after Sunday's 35-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. "From a standpoint of just the things that we had to deal with, you know, losing some friends, people getting hurt, playing with some new guys off the street. It was tough. But to still be able to do some of the things that we were able to accomplish, with the circumstances -- people should look at our coaching staff and be like, OK wow, they can put together a plan. They can do certain things, even though A- B- and C- (player) isn't there.
"It definitely was the hardest. Physically, it was the hardest. But to make it out healthy, I thank God for that. Because we've all been at a place where I snapped my ankle in Week 16 (back in 2016), and that's not fun. So to be able to walk off the field and be able to go hold my babies, that's always goal number one."
Carr walks away from this season without serious injury, but there's no doubt he'll be sore for a while. He was sacked 51 times this season, a career high by 20. He was hit 27 more times, meaning Carr had been hit by a defender 68 times over the course of the season.
The season was a mental grind after losing Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, having two captains cut and another lost to IR, and so many receivers (plus Marshawn Lynch) lost to injury. Carr constantly had to answer questions about all those things, his quarterbacking as the sole playing face of the franchise and his relationship with Gruden, all while trying to keep the locker room afloat.
That was the mental grind. The physical beating came from working with rookie offensive tackles and several injuries at guard. That lead to several big hits that, when taken in sum, will take some time to wear off.
"Physically, it was hard. I'm just calling it like it is," Carr said. "It was tough, but it's my job. A lot of times, I look at those situations and wonder if there are half of those (sacks) that I could've erased. Could I have thrown it at someone's feet or checked it down to something else when I didn't have a premier look? That's what me and Coach Gruden, (offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan) are going to do in the coming weeks, is sit down and look at it.
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"I feel like my knowledge of the game has turned in that way, and I want to be better next year than I've ever been. With these coaches, I can be (better) because they did it for me this year when it wasn't ideal. …Hopefully, we can get back to work and fix my portion of those (sacks), because it's not all on the offensive line."