The Raiders are still Derek Carr's team despite two straight brutal games in the cold, wind and rain, Oakland unable to do much of anything offensively, and critics of the $125 million franchise quarterback readying their torches and pitchforks.
Switching signal-callers at this stage of the season, with so much still attainable, would be hard to justify. Critiquing Carr's uneven play at best, regression at worst, after 34-3 and 40-9 losses at the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively, is entirely warranted, though.
As they say, quarterbacks get too much of the credit when things go well and too much of the blame when things go south. Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he would have to "look at" tape of Carr's game against the Chiefs before he could assess his performance.
"I think it is easy to look at the interceptions," Gruden mused, "but it is a tough place to play. Tough environment, cold, windy, good defense and we were behind most of the football game. All of those things with bad field position and a long way to go are tough on a quarterback."
This much is true: Carr has struggled, not only at Arrowhead Stadium in his six-year career (he is now 0-6 in the Chiefs' home), but also in the cold. The temperature was 36 degrees at kickoff Sunday, with a wind chill of 25 degrees, and Carr's record in games when the temperature is 40 degrees or below fell to 0-5, with three of those games coming at Arrowhead Stadium. He's 1-9 when the temperature is 45 degrees or colder.
"I think everyone struggles to a degree in cold weather," Gruden said. "That is why a lot of people move south."
Wait, was he talking about Carr's plummeting Total QBR, which was (wait for it) 9.0 in 40 degrees or colder games at Arrowhead entering Sunday? Not quite.
"I have to do a better job of helping him," Gruden added. "I think it starts with me and ends there. He is a good quarterback. I think he has a chance to be great. It just wasn't his day, and it wasn't our day."
Carr, who had just 152 passing yards in completing 12 of 21 passes with two interceptions through three quarters against the Chiefs, finished 20-of-30 for 222 yards. Those stats were propped up by an 8-of-9 fourth quarter and a 4-yard TD pass with 39 seconds to play.
But his two first-half interceptions -- the first an ill-advised throw into triple-coverage to tight end Darren Waller on the Raiders' first possession that was picked by Tyrann Mathieu, the second a backbreaking 46-yard pick-six by rookie safety Juan Thornhill with 3:42 to play in the second quarter -- set the tone.
Mathieu said the Chiefs were able to diagnose when Carr would take a deeper shot based on the Raiders' formation.
"Derek is going to try to take care of the football," Mathieu said. "Tight ends, running backs, check-downs, that's kind of his game. I was glad I was able to capitalize on him when he did try to throw the ball down the field."
Asked when the game turned, Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs pointed to Thornhill's score, which gave the Chiefs a 21-0 lead.
"I would probably say the pick-six, when things really just like, took the morale [from us]," said Jacobs, who rushed for a game-high 104 yards. "You could feel the emotion, you could feel the swing and I try to go out there, my job as a running back is just to inspire the team, inspire the playcaller, all of that. And I try to do my best at it. I've got to be better."
Carr essentially said the same of himself -- even as he distanced himself from the DC-can't-play-in-the-cold crowd, and the fact that his receivers had a combined 8 receiving yards entering the fourth quarter.
"My job is to put the ball where coach wants it," Carr said. "I wish I had a better answer for you, but I always leave that up to him."
If it sounds like Carr is saying he's just carrying out Gruden's playcall sheet, well ...
Was the cold weather a factor? True enough, Carr did not look shellshocked as he did in 2016, when the Chiefs harassed him into 17-of-41 passing for 117 yards and the Spidercam wire knocked down a sure touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
"No, I threw the ball fine," Carr said. "It felt great. If we don't have those two turnovers, we are very efficient ... I think we handled it just fine. It was not a factor because I do not want to take anything away from the plays that (Kansas City) made, to be honest with you.
"If it was 80 degrees, or 30 degrees, it does not matter. Those two safeties made two great plays, and I tip my hat to them."