It had been a long time since an Oakland Raiders quarterback had thrown for 30 touchdowns. As for threatening the franchise single-season record? The closest anyone had come before 2015 was five.
Derek Carr, however, already has checked off on the former feat and with three more TD passes he’ll gain a share of the latter as the former Fresno State star wraps up his second NFL season Sunday.
A tough Kansas City Chiefs defense awaits at Arrowhead Stadium as Carr bids to match the 34-touchdown campaign that Clovis native Daryle Lamonica enjoyed in 1969.
Kansas City ranks eighth in total defense and 12th against the pass. In the teams’ last meeting on Dec. 6, Carr completed 31 of 48 for 283 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-20 loss.
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Amid the long odds, Carr is enjoying just being in the conversation.
3 30-touchdown seasons by Raiders quarterbacks in the franchise’s 56-year history; Daryle Lamonica has two, while Derek Carr joined the club this season
“It would mean a lot to me, just because of the storied organization that we have and all the great quarterbacks that have played here,” Carr said. “MVP guys, future Hall of Fame guys. It would just mean a lot to me. It already means a lot to me to be up there with those guys.”
Up there as in only the second Raiders player in the franchise’s 55-year history even to reach 30. Lamonica did it twice, throwing for exactly 30 in 1967. Jeff George had 29 in 1997.
Among those rooting for Carr – the “Mad Bomber” himself.
“He’s better than pretty good,” Lamonica said in a recent phone interview. “I like him as a person and … he’ll be very deserving” if he ties or break the mark.
Carr appreciates the kind words.
“That means a lot to me, especially coming from him,” said Carr, also 207 yards shy of becoming the third Raiders quarterback to reach 4,000, joining Rich Gannon (4,689 in 2002) and Carson Palmer (4,018 in 2012).
“(Lamonica) is one of the best to play here and for him to want to say those things about me, that means a lot. I’ve gotten to know him really well. He’s a first-class guy.”
Carr, however, also likes to put the focus on bigger goals, like turning the team back into a perennial winner. They have taken a step forward, with a 7-8 record heading into Sunday. In Carr’s rookie campaign, when he passed for 3,270 yards with 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, Oakland finished 3-13.
“This has been cool, it’s been fun,” Carr said of the record chase, “but my goals are a lot higher than that. I’ll work hard this offseason to make sure we can do that.”
He’s confident in his own abilities to stick it in those tight windows, and then he can anticipate, he can see those windows opening up before they actually do.
former University of Oregon and NFL quarterback Bill Musgrave, now the Raiders’ offensive coordinator, on Carr
Lamonica said he was invited by Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to help assist in that progression by looking at film of Carr. But he couldn’t make the trip to Alameda because of a recent hip surgery.
Watching from afar, he still was impressed by Carr’s poise after a tough game.
“Knowing Derek, he’ll come back with a vengeance,” Lamonica said. “He knows what he knows and what he can do best. You kind of lick your wounds and learn from (mistakes) … what went right and what didn’t go right and what you prepared for and what you did not prepare for and with that it makes the game simple and pretty cut and dry.”
Del Rio, the Raiders’ first-year coach, sees the run at the record as icing on an already strong season.
92.0 Carr’s quarterback rating this season after finishing at 76.6 as a rookie
“He’s nearing the franchise record for touchdowns thrown,” Del Rio said. “He’s thrown for a bunch of yards. He’s done a great job bringing us back in several games. I think he’s had a really strong year. It’d be great to end that year on a high note.”
Musgrave, another first-year staffer fortunate to inherit the budding star, sees natural talent, confidence and an improving skill set.
“I would say it’s a skill that he was born with,” he said. “He definitely is accurate. He’s confident in his own abilities to stick it in those tight windows, and then he can anticipate, he can see those windows opening up before they actually do.”
Lamonica’s simple advice: “Keep improving and working on the things that will work and execute,” he said.
“We learn from our mistakes,” Lamonica continued. “and hopefully this will help him to prepare for next season so when we go to training camp, they get off to a good start and win a championship. What I would like to see is a 14-2 winning season and to go to the playoffs and win us a Super Bowl. I would like that a lot more” than any records Carr sets along the way.
That’s exactly where Carr’s mind is at as his second season draws to a close, with or without that franchise record in tow.
“Just watching the film and working really hard in the offseason,” he said of the next step. “I try and outwork everybody, that’s always my mind set. That’s how I’ll go about trying to get better and grow from my mistakes.”
Closing it out
OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY
- Sunday: 1:25 p.m. (KMPH-Ch. 26.1)
- Records: Raiders 7-8, Chiefs 10-5
- Last time: Kansas City’s Jeremy Maclin had two TD catches after fourth-quarter interceptions thrown by Derek Carr in the Chiefs’ 34-20 win on Dec. 6 in Oakland.
The Raiders’ single-season passing-touchdown record isn’t the only milestone with Derek Carr’s reach. Here is some other select company Carr could join in the finale of his second NFL season:
- One touchdown pass would give him 53 in his young career, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson for second most in any NFL player’s first two seasons. Dan Marino is the leader with 68.
- Six completions would lift him past Andrew Luck (682) for most by a second-year player.
- With 21 completions, Carr would become the second Raider with 350 in a season, joining Rich Gannon (2001, 2002).
- Throwing for two or more TDs would mark the 18th time he’s done that, which would be second most by a player through two seasons (Miami’s Dan Marino had 22 in 1983-84).