Derek Carr feeling “just so free” heading into eighth season

After failing to make the playoffs under head coach Jon Gruden over the last three seasons, the Raiders would like to change their fortunes this season.

Quarterback Derek Carr will play a significant role in determining whether that happens and he outlined one difference about his approach to the game when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. Carr said that he feels like he’s reached the right mental space for his play to flourish after years of feeling stress about his role.

“I remember the night before every practice, I’d be stressed out,” Carr said, via the team’s website. “In my head, I’m just hard on myself. I’m thinking about everything like, ‘I got to do that right.’ I’m checking my notes like, ‘I got to do that. I wrote this down, got to fix that.’ Now, it’s just so free. . . . Once I got away from trying to impress everybody else, I got comfortable with being me and honestly that’s when I’ve played my best.”

Carr looked comfortable for most of the 2020 season and posted the best passer rating of his NFL career. Increasing that comfort level is reason for optimism about the year to come, although it will be tempered by lingering questions on the other side of the ball.