The book on Derek Carr is clear among NFL defensive coordinators — sack him.
Once the Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterback is hit, there is a strong chance he will cough up the ball. According to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, Carr has fumbled eight of the 17 times he’s been sacked this season, meaning there is an almost 50% chance of him losing the ball when sacked. Therefore, defensive players are looking hard for the ball when Carr goes down.
Carr has led the league in fumbles since he was drafted in 2014, and his eight fumbles this season are the most by any NFL quarterback. He lost three fumbles in the Raiders’ 43-6 loss at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Fortunately, Carr is having a strong season and he is among the league’s best when it comes to avoiding interceptions. He has been picked off just four times this season and it is tied for the third fewest interceptions in the league.
But fumbling is an issue, and, in one sense, a quarterback losing a fumble is worse than an interception because the defense usually takes possession in better field position. Carr said on Sunday after the loss to the Falcons that he must get the ball out quicker to avoid sacks. Raiders coach Jon Gruden said the coaching staff will continue to work with Carr to cut down the fumbling.
“It’s something that we work on every day for all our skill players that touch the ball,” Gruden said. “A couple of them, when you get blindsided, there’s not much you can do. But just emphasizing two hands on the ball in traffic and sometimes giving up on a play.
“If the protection is breaking down, sometimes you just have to put the ball away, protect the ball, take the sack and move on to the next one. You are right. Those are turnovers that we have to address and we have to correct.”