Derek Carr with the Saints against the Lions. Dec 3, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) talks to quarterback Taysom Hill (7) against the Detroit Lions during the first half at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr’s first season in New Orleans has not gone according to plan. The 32-year-old quarterback signed a four-year $150 million deal with $100 million in guarantees this spring, but has struggled to live up to that, battling several injuries and posting generally-unimpressive stats when he has played. And his former teammate Bruce Irvin, who just faced off against him Sunday, said there’s one key way to minimize what Carr can accomplish in a game.

The Saints fell to 5-7 with a 33-28 home loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday. It was the first game in a Lions’ uniform for 36-year-old pass rusher Irvin, who signed with the team’s practice squad on Nov. 14. And he made quite an impact in that one, recording both a sack of Carr and another big QB hit (which led to Carr’s exit) in just 11 snaps. After the game, Irvin spoke to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, and he said he had some inside insight on the importance of pressuring Carr given their time together with the then-Oakland Raiders from 2016-18:

“I played with him in Oakland, so I know when you get around him, he gets rattled,” Irvin said. “He’s a hell of a player, but we knew if we got around him, we could rattle him a little bit.”

Of course, defensive pressure is at least somewhat important against most quarterbacks. And there aren’t a ton of players completely unaffected by it. But even with that in mind, the “he gets rattled” line from Irvin here is more criticism than usual, even if caveated with “He’s a hell of a player.”

Interestingly enough, at at least one point last year while with the Raiders, Carr ranked as a top-10 (No. 8) NFL quarterback in Pro Football Focus’ passing grade under pressure metrics. And he actually posted the most yards under pressure in the 2021 season (although that perhaps says something about that year’s Raiders and their offensive line as well).

But this isn’t the first time someone has called out Carr’s seeming sensitivity to a lot of pressure in an individual game, with Los Angeles Chargers’ defensive end Joey Bosa doing that in 2021 (and with a MIBPJ statistical analysis then finding some merit to that). And PFF ranked Carr as the worst NFL QB under pressure during the 2017 season (when Irvin was playing with Carr in Oakland). So this is at the very least a book out there on Carr with some NFL teams and players, and it’s had some numbers backing it up at at least some points. And it’s interesting to see Irvin be so candid about perceived shortcomings of a former teammate.

On the 2023 season, Carr has completed 261 of 394 passing attempts (66.2 percent) for 2,761 yards with 11 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 89.4 quarterback rating. He’s started all 12 games for New Orleans, but has had to leave some early with injuries. And he’s also had some notable flareups with teammates. And there are now questions about just when he’ll be able to return to the Saints.

In addition to being in the concussion protocol for the second time this season following that hit from Irvin Sunday, Carr is also being evaluated for a rib injury, and his status for this coming Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers is uncertain. But if he does play, it seems likely the Panthers will also follow Irvin’s advice and try to put a lot of pressure on him.

[Pro Football Talk]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.