One month ago, Derek Carr made his intentions for the 2020 season very clear.
"I'm trying to play in the Super Bowl," he said. "I'm trying to win the Super Bowl."
Entering the Raiders' inaugural season in Las Vegas, Carr has been under the microscope of the media, and to put it bluntly, he's getting sick of it.
For the Silver and Black's franchise quarterback, the addition of Marcus Mariota was a welcome signing, given his veteran leadership and their relationship off the field, but Carr's never backed down from some friendly competition.
"In our quarterback room, you have to compete and that's what I do," Carr told reporters Tuesday. "You can ask anybody, all I'm going to do is compete. I've had multiple starters come into this room and be in the same room as me. You can go through the list of who's started games and who's been in our quarterback room — it happens all the time. But when you go 7-9, people like to make up stuff."
After jumping out to a 6-4 record last season, the Raiders ultimately finished the season on a 1-5 skid, removing them from playoff contention. The media has been quick to point the blame at Carr, but the Raiders were hit with a slew of injuries that derailed any hope of a postseason.
Carr's MVP-caliber season was four years ago and there have been critics out there claiming he needs to return to that level of play in order for this team to succeed, but statistically speaking, Carr's numbers were better in 2020 than in 2016 — despite throwing fewer touchdowns. The former Fresno State Bulldog finished with a career-high completion percentage (70.4), passing yards (4,054), yards gained per pass attempt (7.9), and rating (100.8).
You can't dispute the facts, Carr made improvements to his game in his second season in Head Coach Jon Gruden's system, but even so, No. 4 is determined to prove the naysayers wrong.
"I have a lot to prove to myself," he said. "I have a lot to prove to my organization. I'm going to be completely honest, I'm tired of being disrespected. So, there was no doubt that I was going to play this year."
COVID-19 has forced athletes around the country to contemplate whether the risk is worth it, but it was never a question for Carr. Even with infants at home and a pregnant wife, DC is focused and ready to elevate his game and the Raiders to new heights this season.
Last year, Carr threw to 17 different receivers and was never able to fully establish a rapport with his cast of wideouts, but still managed to set career highs. Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock have provided an upgraded supporting group in 2020, and Carr is eager to take full advantage of it.
Don't let Carr's kind demeanor fool you, he's on a mission in 2020 and ready to channel his inner Mamba Mentality.
View photos from the Raiders' walk through and workout at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.