Nevius: Derek Carr's future with Raiders isn’t in doubt — yet

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There’s no reason to make a big fuss about Raiders quarterback Derek Carr after the loss to the Rams, right? It was the first game, against a tough opponent. A few bad throws. It’s a long season.

Oh, come on. Who are we kidding?

Sunday’s game in Denver is monumental — to Carr, the Raiders and potentially to the franchise.

Carr’s dismal performance against the Rams badly shook even wizened denizens of the Black Hole. A case could be made, and has been, that Carr threw the game away all by himself.

With a little over three minutes left in the third quarter, it was a tie game. First, Carr was unable to complete passes to move the sticks. Then he threw two mind-blowingly ill-advised interceptions that had people in bars all over the country leaping to their feet and yelling, “You threw it right to him!”

Another stinker like that and the earth begins to move under the franchise’s feet. This isn’t just a potential bad patch by the QB. Carr is the Raiders’ show pony.

The team bet the farm, the ranch and the bunkhouse on Carr with his $125 million contract. He is, ostensibly, the reason the team says it could not sign Khalil Mack.

He is why Jon Gruden said he finally pulled the trigger on a head coaching offer. He’s called Carr “a human JUGS gun” and a franchise quarterback.

And at first, this was all going according to plan. Sign up Carr, bring back Gruden and return those roars to the Coliseum.

Yeah, well, those weren’t roars you heard at the end of the first game. They were boos, loud and clear. Raiders fans are patient. But they aren’t that patient.

So, yeah, a lot of pressure Sunday at Mile High Stadium, which is always a tough place to play. Not to mention that it is where Carr had a bone in his back broken last season. Not a lot of good vibes.

But, hey, if there was ever a case of “This is why they pay you the big bucks … ”

Looking back, the game against the Rams had to be two of the most mystifying halves of football in Carr’s career.

As Gruden said later, at first Carr looked fine.

“I thought he was on his way in the first half,” Gruden said. “He’s 20-for-24 (for 199 yards), doing some really good things.”

At that point the Raiders had a 13-10 lead. Then Carr went into the locker room and turned into Nathan Peterman.

He began the third quarter by missing his first three passes. While the Rams were marching to a field goal, a touchdown and a 23-13 lead, Carr was 1-5 for four yards.

You have to hand it to Gruden, he’s keeping his sense of humor.

“I heard a skunk got loose in our tunnel,” he said. “I think that’s what screwed us up a little bit.”

I don’t know who talked to Carr at halftime or what he ate, but stop saying that and don’t feed him any more of it. Gruden, of course, is keeping up a brave front.

“I don’t have any doubts that Derek Carr is going to be great,” he said last week.

Well, he’d better get started.

Carr’s postgame shower barely had ended before there were wild swings from the outer reaches of the internet. Maybe the Raiders are going to trade Carr, one said, and then draft a rookie quarterback.

Yeah, well, if you are really into long-shot gambles, maybe you should trade in your car and invest the money in seaweed/cannabis edibles.

Carr’s the Raiders’ guy. They will stick with him until he proves otherwise. And if he isn’t the guy, it is backbreaking news for the franchise. Carr’s the cornerstone. Not to mention that he and Gruden were supposed to be the faces of the move to Vegas.

The troubling part of the second half fall-apart was that Carr seemed to lose his mechanics. He suffered through a bout of happy feet. And even when he got his shoes set, he sometimes didn’t step into the throw. And that created two balloon-ball interceptions that everyone in the building saw coming.

A couple of points. First, Gruden was extremely cautious with Carr in the preseason. He only threw seven passes. Could this be a case when someone really does need a little more game-time action to get sharp?

Also, Carr may be in his head a little about the amount of money he’s getting. Sounds silly, but you can bet everywhere he goes someone mentions it. Followed by: Man, you better be worth it.

If so, Carr needs to remember: They offered it. Can you imagine a world where someone is offered a fortune to do what they love and they turn it down because they don’t want the guy in the 14th row to be mad at them?

Here’s a reality check. Fans are front-runners. Always have been. Want to get them on your side? Al Davis was right, the only thing that matters is winning.

Personally, I still think Carr can do it. We’ve seen enough bad quarterbacks around here to recognize a good one. Carr’s been good, and I bet he will be good again.

He just can’t get skunked in Denver.

Contact C.W. Nevius at Twitter: @cwnevius

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