For the third time in his last nine games, Derek Carr went down with an injury when he suffered a transverse process fracture in his back on Sunday.
He will miss this week’s game against the Ravens and could be out as many as six weeks.
Last year he missed one series in a game against the Panther when he broke his pinky. Then Carr saw his season end with a broken fibula in week 16.
Now the Raiders are faced with a problem that is becoming to familiar: how can they survive without Derek Carr?
This offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie looked to answer that question by signing EJ Manuel. That came after the Raiders season was ended in the playoffs by the Texans when Connor Cook, Carr’s backup last season, threw for 161 yards and completed just 18 of 45 passes.
In 29 career games Manuel has completed just 58.5 percent of his passes and thrown 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. 28 of those games were for Buffalo, his 29th was for Oakland.
“I thought EJ gave us a chance there at the end. He did some things really well,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There’s some definite positive, encouraging signs that we can build on.”
Manuel entered in the second half following Carr’s injury, He completed 11 of 17 passes for 106 yards, as he drove the Raiders down for a field goal and then got into Denver territory trialing by six.
But Manuel would throw the game sealing interceptions as he looked downfield for Amari Cooper.
Whether the Raiders survive without Carr may have very little to do with Manuel. The entire offense has been awful for the last two games, as the Raiders have posted 20 points in the last eight quarters.
Cooper has been a non factor for the Raiders. He leads the NFL with seven drops. He has just three catches for 15 yards in the last two games.
Michael Crabtree couldn’t play in Denver due to a chest injury and Jared Cook dropped two Manuel passes in the endzone in the fourth quarter.
Even the offensive line has been surrendering sacks; seven times a Raiders quarterback has been dragged down in the last two game.
But that might be more on Carr than the offensive line, as he has not show good pocket presence when he is pressured.
BIG NOTE: #Raiders' OL has allowed the least pressures in the NFL (21). However, they have the highest sack/pressure ratio at 38.1.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) October 2, 2017
And the passing game has been more effective than the non existent run game for the Raiders.
Over the last two games the Raiders have 56 rushing yards. Marshawn Lynch has 15 carries for 30 yards in the last two games.
The Raiders haven’t produced an effective run game and they haven’t committed to the run. With Carr out, Marshawn Lynch needs to get rolling.
For the next two weeks, the schedule sets up favorably for the Raiders to win without Carr. The Ravens come to Oakland off of back-to-back losses to Jacksonville and Pittsburgh. Then the winless Chargers make the trip north.
If those are the only two games Carr misses, the Raiders may be just fine. But if his injury lingers beyond the next two games, the Chiefs and an east coast road swing with Buffalo and Miami could hurt the Raiders playoff chances.
Manuel isn’t a long term answer for a team hoping to make another trip to the playoffs. But with the way the offense has performed the last two weeks, the Raiders have more issues than the health of Derek Carr.
Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.