Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr says he’s ‘much more comfortable’ but still adjusting to coach Josh McDaniels’ system

HENDERSON, Nev. — Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr, whose quarterback rating has dropped sharply the last four times the team has traded offensive linemen, admitted Wednesday that he’s still getting used to first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ system.

“I feel a lot more comfortable than, say, a month ago,” said Carr, whose QBR of 40.6 through two games is his lowest since he was a rookie in 2014.

“I mean, when you go out there and do it, it’s different than the sideline. Training camp is different, right? There’s a different clock in the game because now I get hit. I can turn on film and I have experience from that perspective, in the system. I have experience hearing his voice, knowing what [McDaniels] wants me to reach … I want to go to exactly what he wants. … Obviously it’s growing, but the sample size is small, the first two games. Hopefully I’ll do some of those things where [McDaniels is] like, “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Next play.”

The Raiders are 0-2 after last-second losses at the Los Angeles Chargers and at home against the Arizona Cardinals, starting slowly in Inglewood and finishing with a 20-0 halftime lead in Las Vegas. They also play the winless Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

But in the second half of the Chargers game and the first half of the Cardinals game, Carr’s stats stand out. In those two halves, he completed 32 of 47 attempts (68.1%) for 409 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions and three sacks. And the Raiders outscored the Chargers and Cardinals 36-7 over those two halves.

This is the kind of offensive production that many envisioned for Carr and McDaniels.

Yet, as receiver Davante Adams said, “That’s not how the game of football works in real life.”

“Every player, you’ve got to learn to put your foot on the gas and, for lack of better words, break their neck when you’re in a corner like that,” said Adams, who finished with 17 targets. Chargers for 12 receiving yards against Cardinals.

“That’s the way I’ve learned to play the game and that’s the way I hope this team plays the game.”

Carr’s QBR dropped from 56.1 in 2016 under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to 50.5 in 2017 under OC Todd Downing. A year later, in his first season under coach Jon Gruden, Carr’s QBR was 46.5.

Last year, when Gruden resigned after five games amid his email controversy, Carr’s QBR dropped from a career-high 64.3 in 2021 to 52.4, with Greg Olson calling the shots after Gruden’s departure.

McDaniels said he’s “very comfortable” with Carr’s comfort level at this point in the season.

“He processes it so quickly and then he can go out and execute,” McDaniels said. “Every week is a little bit different. It’s not necessarily the exact same thing that we do offensively or defensively or kicking that we did last week. And I think for some people — and again, I wasn’t here, I haven’t been there , where everyone else has been, so I don’t really know – but I do know that for some people who are in different systems and with different coaches, it might not be such a big deal.

Adams said it was his teammates’ responsibility to keep Carr calm.

“There’s so many things that go into playing quarterback, man, it’s tough,” Adams said. “On the second play of the game, he gets hit. Obviously, we all have to work on that because it helps Derek do his job and get comfortable there. Same thing, he’s not as comfortable throwing the ball when wide receivers drop the ball every play or . . . unless it’s a great call.

“It’s the hardest position to play on the court. So I’m sure as hell going to do my best to help him make his job as easy as possible … everybody’s doing their part to keep him clean. and he’s got a clear mind to be able to sit and edit.”

Carr said: “So far in my career, hopefully I can grab it quickly and see something and do what [McDaniels is] to teach me. Again, I’m not perfect by any means… but I’ll do my best to make it exactly how he sees it.

“We are very close. But closeness doesn’t matter when winning football games.”