Last year was a tough year in Oakland. The season started and the expectations were sky high, Derek Carr was on track to becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the league and the Raiders came out the gate swinging with a 2-0 start. Then the whole landscape changed and suddenly the silver and black was losing more than winning again and they just couldn’t get the ship righted.
They finished last year at 6-10 after that 2-0 start, missing the playoffs and getting the number 10 pick in the draft. It was a bitter experience, and that’s just from a fans perspective. It had to be devastating for the players to have had such confidence and be on such a high just to have it come crashing down. You’d think Derek Carr more than anybody would want to forget all about last season but that’s not the way that the Raiders quarterback is looking at things.
Carr went on the Jim Rome show (you can listen to the entire interview here) and his interview covered an array of topics such as working with Jon Gruden now and their Quarterback Camp show that they did together leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. It wasn’t Carr reminiscing about how a worker told him he was Gruden’s favorite QB they had on the show so far that caught my attention though, it was his candid answer to how he views last season that was the most interesting part of the interview.
“It’s a weird feeling first of all, because we sat there and we had all this talent. everything was in place, we started out 2 and 0 putting 45 points on somebody. We feel like we’re rolling and then we hit a bump in the road and things start to change. I think with the expectations we all had for each other in that building, and the things we thought we were going to do, and things like that, I think that we hit a hard patch.
“We saw some of the worst sides of people during that time, which can happen in sports. It’s tough, things are hard and stressful. It’s one of those things that its not easy to go through hard times but ill say this, going through that. I’ve seen the highest of highs and obviously I’ve seen the lowest of lows that it can get with just being in the NFL for 5 years.
“There’s nothing that we can go through now that will affect me, one game is not going to derail the whole season, one thing is not going to change our whole mindset, and things like that. I’ve learned that now, its been hard but at the same time I wouldn’t have traded last year for anything because honestly we’re right back where I want to be. I like when people doubt us, I like that side of things a little bit better.”
This is such an awesome answer to how he felt about last season from Carr, and it shows he has the chip on his shoulder that can lead to true greatness in an athlete. Instead of being bitter about the way the season went down and how the team fell apart around him, he sees this as just another lesson that he needed to learn.
That’s the healthiest way to look at a failure like last season, it was an experience that Derek Carr needs to use to make himself better moving forward. When listening to the interview you can tell that Carr is answering the question honestly and that he really has moved on from last year which is the most important thing to do in the NFL. Win or lose, you have to be ready to completely move on and prepare yourself for the next season.
There’s also no doubt that it’s more fun going into the season as an underdog that gets to prove everybody wrong, and Carr sounds excited to have that opportunity again. Last year they were a trendy Super Bowl pick even, they weren’t sneaking up on anybody anymore and they didn’t perform well under the added pressure. That experience can either make or break a player, but Carr sounds exactly like you would hope your QB would sound after a poor season like last year.
The other really interesting tidbit from his answer here is the way he talked about seeing some of the worst sides of people in the locker room. That is really interesting because of the reports of discontent between Carr and former Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree who was released after Oakland signed Jordy Nelson in free agency this off-season.
Carr didn’t specify who he meant by that and it definitely didn’t just come down to one person being a negative presence in the locker room, but when there is smoke there is fire. There was a lot of smoke about a deteriorating relationship between Crabtree and the Raiders in general, it’s fair to speculate that some of that behind the scenes drama was being referenced by Carr here.
All the talk is just talk unless it gets backed up on the field but it’s uplifting to hear Carr taking the beating from last year in stride and using it as a tool to get better. With defensive minded Jack Del Rio gone and QB guru Jon Gruden in charge of the team the atmosphere in Oakland is one for a QB to truly strive in with the right mentality. It sounds like Carr is in a great space with his mentality and that he is going to use the lessons he learned last year to his advantage.