Derek Carr Feels Blessed That Saints’ Defense Is Now On His Side, And Better Restaurants On The Way, Too

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METAIRIE, La. – Throughout most of quarterback Derek Carr’s nine-year NFL career with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, if he saw a good defense, he was usually playing against it.

Such was the case last Oct. 30 in a 24-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. Carr completed 15 of 26 passes for 101 yards with an interception while Vegas rushed for 38 yards on 13 carries. The Raiders finished 6-11 for their sixth losing season in Carr’s career.

“I was so pissed off after the game,” Carr said Saturday afternoon as the Saints introduced him as their new quarterback at the team’s facility.

“Excuse me,” Carr said of his language as his wife Heather and three young sons and toddler daughter sat in the front row next to owner Gayle Benson. “Y’all beat our faces in.”

Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr is sacked by the Saints in a 24-0 loss at the Superdome last October 30. The Raiders released Carr last February, and he agreed to a contract with the Saints on Sunday. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Saints did not reach the playoffs last season for the second straight year as they finished 7-10 under first-year coach Dennis Allen, who was Carr’s coach with Oakland briefly in 2014. But the former Saints’ defensive coordinator’s defense placed No. 5 in the NFL in defense (314.8 yards a game) and in points allowed (20.3).

Derek Carr May Not Have To Do As Much With A New Defense

Vegas, meanwhile, finished 28th in the NFL in total defense (365.6 yards a game) and in points allowed (24.6 a game). Carr, a second round pick in 2014 from Fresno State, has dealt with such rankings throughout his career. That has featured only two playoff appearances – wild-card losses in 2016 and ’21.

If the Saints just finish in the top 20 in 2023 in defense, that will be rare air for a pro team Carr is on.

“You could feel their physicality,” Carr said of the New Orleans defense, which has had similar rankings the last several years under Allen. “You could feel the energy and the brotherhood. The type of men in that locker room. That was something that fired me up.”

Carr, 31, signed a four-year contract with the Saints on Saturday worth $150 million, including $100 million guaranteed after agreeing to terms on Sunday.

Such Saints defensive stars as end Cameron Jordan, linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Tyrann Mathieu are expected back for the 2023 season. Mathieu intercepted Carr in that game last October.

“They were definitely talking,” Carr said. “We didn’t have much to talk about in that game. Ty has certainly picked off a few of my passes.”

Derek Carr Sees Saints’ Offense As ‘Explosive’

Carr also likes the possibilities of playing with Saints’ wide receiver Michael Thomas should he stay in New Orleans and running back Alvin Kamara – once his suspension for a battery arrest in 2022 in Vegas is decided upon.

“He’s so competitive,” Carr said of Thomas, whom he spoke to on the phone recently. “He’s like, ‘Hey, when are we getting to work? We’re wasting time.’ It’s an explosive offense. There’s so much potential. When watching on film, it’s hard not to get excited.”

There are many questions around the future of the Saints, though, as there is with Carr, who tends to be ranked as average or slightly above average in the NFL.

“He was clearly our No. 1 target,” Allen said. “This was going to be the best fit.”

The Saints’ offense suffered last season after injuries to starting quarterback Jameis Winston. Backup Andy Dalton put up good statistics, but the Saints did not win consistently behind him. Dalton is most likely to remain with the team as Carr’s backup.

“He can spin it,” Allen said of Carr’s passing ability. “He’s a veteran. He’s the quarterback that we wanted. This is a step in the right direction as far as getting s back to where we should be.”

In the end, he wasn’t what Vegas wanted, though. The Raiders released him last February.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder,” Carr said.

Carr is at least durable. He has avoided injuries most of his career as he has started 142 games in nine seasons. He also has something the Saints sorely lacked last season – the ability to come back late in games. Carr took the Raiders to 32 game-winning drives in his career.

“This really is a dream come true moment for me,” he said.

Derek Carr Says He Will Not Be The Next Drew Brees

Carr communicated with former Saints superstar and Super Bowl XLIV MVP quarterback Drew Brees as well as former Saints quarterback Archie Manning and his sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper about the city and the team.

“I’m not coming here trying to be Drew Brees,” he said. “He’s a Hall of Famer. I’m here to be Derek Carr. I want to be a blessing, not a burden. I’m going to be me. I’m going to be very imperfect, but you’ll get literally everything I have.”

Carr is a Christian and has two tattoos depicting his faith.

“My faith is No. 1,” he said. “That will never change. But I’m not going to sit up here and throw bibles at everybody.”

Meanwhile, his teammates may be throwing restaurant suggestions to him.

The first place he ate at with his family upon arrival in New Orleans was a Chipotle, and he knows he needs help.

“I said, ‘What are we doing here?'”

Hopefully for Saints fans, he does not make the same comment about the team in the near future.

“It would be so awesome to win for these people,” Carr said. “It definitely feels like that college feel here.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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