OAKLAND — The theme throughout Derek Carr’s postgame press conference in the wake of a 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans Sunday at the Coliseum was “Nobody cares.”
When it comes to injuries, travel schedules and most anything else, Carr is right. There isn’t much sympathy when it comes to the NFL.
“Nobody cares about the situation. Nobody cares who his playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here,” Carr said. “Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game and it is what it is.”
Yet when it comes to the fan base and who will be the Raiders quarterback in 2020, some people care a lot. And while social media tends to be more of a negative, pile-on medium, plenty of Raiders fans want someone else.
There were some scattered boos in the second half as the Raiders sputtered and the Titans pulled away, and many of those who remained from a sellout crowd as the teams walked off the field sounded as if they would have much preferred their quarterback to be Ryan Tannehill.
Carr was philosophical about the reaction, having heard those same fans at their loudest when they were winning three straight games in November as well as some of the 18 come-from-behind wins he has authored as the starter.
“You play here long enough it will happen,” Carr said. “We have a rowdy group and that is why we love them. They are passionate. They just want to win. Even when they are mad at you, they are like family, even when they are mad at you they still want to hug you. They still want you to do well. I understand their frustration. I think I’d shed some emotion too, but I don’t think anything of it. It has happened for six years.”
Carr was 25 of 34 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a gaudy 115.3 passer rating which was deceiving in terms of his overall game.
There’s already a debate about Carr’s fourth-quarter fourth-down pass from the 2-yard line that he threwwell over the head of wide receiver Zay Jones. The Raiders weren’t going to win, but that’s not the point. Why not give your receiver a chance? Carr concluded instead there was no chance. Either that or he was wildly inaccurate on the throw.
The Titans coaches in the booth next to the press box were delighted with his decision, judging by their reaction.
“I promise you, I ran through the whole thing on that one,” Carr said. “They have got seven defensive backs looking at me waiting for the ball at that point.”
Coach Jon Gruden shrugged it off.
“I think he kept the play alive for 12 seconds,” Gruden said. “It wasn’t like he just aborted the ball . . . I think he played really well today. Given what’s going on around him, I think there’s a big story there. At least we recognize it. We’re proud of the way he’s competing and performing with a lot of moving pieces.”
According to NFL Next Gen stats, it was closer to nine seconds than 12, but nobody cares.
Not when Tannehill, who was regarded in Miami the same way some fans think of Carr, went 21 of 27 for 391 yards and three touchdowns and even chased down Maurice Hurst after a 55-yard run on a deflected interception.
Once you’ve determined Carr isn’t for you for the Las Vegas transition, nobody cares about the 70 percent completion rate or outward support from Gruden.
Tannehill had Derrick Henry and Carr didn’t have Josh Jacobs. Nobody cares. Tannehill had open receivers including A.J. Brown, who caught everything in sight — including a 91-yard touchdown. Carr’s wide outs did little of consequence other than Rico Gafford’s 49-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Carr played on a team whose defense gave up a staggering 375 yards in the first half and 552 in the game to a good but not great offensive team.
Carr matched Tannehill score for score in the first half, which ended 21-21.
Here’s what fans do care about, and so does Carr, and so does Gruden.
In a potentially game-changing sequence in the third quarter, Carr and the Raiders offense came up empty.
With the score 21-21, A.J. Cole punted Tennessee back to the 6-yard line. The Raiders defense responded with a three-and-out. And here was Carr and the offense, taking over at their own 47, with a short-field drive possibility.
The Raiders went three-and-out, with Carr throwing two incompletions. Then the Raiders pinned the Titans back at the 11, and couldn’t keep them there.
During the small window where the Raiders could have seized momentum, Carr and Co. couldn’t do it. And that will fall on the quarterback. It always does.
The Raiders soon were down 28-21, 35-21 and finally 42-21.
With Tennessee playing its secondary deep with a big lead, Carr made the statistical bottom line look good. In the end, it was just another chapter in an up-and-down season that started with Antonio Brown, picked up some momentum during a five-game road trip and three-game home win streak, and now has crashed to earth.
“Oh, it’s been crazy. Let’s not sugar coat it,” Carr said. “Let’s just be real about it. I’m into facts and it’s been a really weird year. Someone should write a book at some point, (with) some of the stuff that went on, but nobody cares. I’m used to that.”
But don’t let it be said that Carr doesn’t have a subtle edge to him. When addressing next week’s regular-season finale in Oakland, Carr made light of the fourth-down play.
“I’m going to be amped up so I’ll have to calm down so I don’t throw it out of bounds into the twentieth row, but hopefully we win the game and I can give somebody a ball,” Carr said. “That’d be fun.”
Certainly a lot more fun than what took place Sunday.
One thing Carr can be sure of. When the Raiders play their last game ever at the Coliseum next weekend against Jacksonville, people will care.
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