Last November, with the Las Vegas Raiders’ season teetering, quarterback and team leader Derek Carr made a strong case that that version of the Silver and Black was “different.”
And we took the bait.
Of course, in the end, it wasn’t different. The Raiders went from 6-4, then to 8-8 and were out of the playoffs again. In 2019, (the team Carr was saying the 2020 team was different from) turned a 6-4 record into a 7-9 season.
This season, the Raiders started 5-2 and are now 5-4 heading into Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Naturally, there is concern in the Raider Nation that another late-season nosedive is coming.
On Wednesday, however, Carr tried to calm nerves by saying — get this! — that this 2021 Raiders’ team is “different.”
Actually, Carr started to beat that drum on Sunday night, just minutes after the Raiders were routed 41-14 at home by the Kansas City Chiefs.
#Raiders QB Derek Carr on this being a different team from previous years : "I think we're just a better team, we have better players...now that doesn't result in wins...I just really believe in our group..the things that we messed up today are so correctable." #RaiderNation— Cassie Soto (@_CassieSoto) November 15, 2021
This is Carr’s quote from Nov. 25, 2020:
“Me and Mr. Mayock, I said the same words to him in our conversation the other day, ‘you know we were 6-4 last year?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but this feels different.’ And he said, ‘I agree.’ I think we both feel that it’s different,” Carr said Wednesday. “There’s just something about this team; the teams we’ve lost to, how we’ve lost and things like that. The teams that we’ve played with and beat and things like that. We’re definitely a better team this year, but we right now have to, and I mean have to, finish this season better than we did last year. And I believe that we will. I’m hopeful and I believe that we will and I think that it’s different, I feel it’s different, but time will tell if it’s different.”
This is Carr’s quote from Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021:
“The woe is me, guys showing up late to the building, the here we go again. That kind of mindset. I remember saying that these guys are different. Why do I think that we can finish better? This group is different. I came in this morning and usually in the past I would show up and I wouldn’t see guys for a little while. I show up in the morning and guys are in there. Guys are showing up, we are walking in at the same time. (Fresno State Football Coach) Pat Hill used to say, ‘Bright eyed and bushy tailed.’ They are on fire and ready to go. Let’s fix it. Trust me, we didn’t do it on purpose. We wouldn’t go out there and lose to those guys the way we lost to them the last two weeks because we weren’t trying. We’ve been trying to get it right, but the thing that separates this team I think is we did it twice in a row and when we came in this week everybody was like, ‘Nope. Let’s go.’ Whereas in the past I would see some of this falling off kind of stuff and that’s just being honest. Calling it what it is.”
Of course, the two quotes aren’t exactly the same but the messages are exactly the same: This is year is different.
Now, pointing this out isn’t an attempt to assail Carr or make fun of him. It’s just about the message to fans from team leadership. Of course, one can make the argument that what else is Carr supposed to say? Sure, he’s a positive guy and he wants to keep the spirit of his message that way. But at some point, it needs to become true. Fans are going to stop believing in their quarterback if he keeps making these type of statements and they don’t pan out.
Now, Carr can change the narrative by leading the Raiders to the playoffs in the next eight weeks and proving that, indeed, this Raiders’ team is different. That opportunity is there and it’s possible. But if doesn’t happen and the Raiders sit in the middle of the pack next November, Carr might want to go to with another battle cry or some fans will be rolling their eyes more than they already are.