QB Carr living sad sack reality

Texan has felt blitz for much of career

Football

December 01, 2005|By BILL ORDINE | BILL ORDINE,SUN REPORTER

For many people, being chased by relentless pursuers with no hope of escape is a recurring nightmare.

For Houston Texans quarterback David Carr, it's a recurring reality.

Carr, sacked 50 times already this season, has been chased around on football Sundays for much of his four-year career. As the 1-10 Texans prepare to face the Ravens on Sunday, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft by the expansion Houston franchise already holds the single-season record for sacks taken, 76 in his rookie year. And this year, he's on pace to challenge that mark.

Although the sacks have tapered off lately, from the second through the fourth game of the season, the former Fresno State star was sacked 22 times for 140 yards, and that doesn't count the knockdowns on hurries.

So, what was going through his mind during the mauling?

"Let's not do this anymore, it's getting old," Carr said of that stretch "That's basically it. Let's not keep this string going."

At that point, Carr said, he made a conscious decision to somehow halt the sack frenzy.

"There were a couple of games there where we were just trying to get out of the sack funk, [and] if the first or second read [on passing routes] wasn't there, I was just getting [the ball] out of my hand," he said.

"Whether it was third-and-long, just dunk it down or throw it out of bounds and live to play another down. I just think it helped our team feel a little better about the whole situation with the sacks."

Former NFL quarterback Dave Krieg knows a few things about taking sacks. He suffered 494 of them - second all-time behind surprise leader John Elway - over a 19-season career with six teams.

"I think it gets to you more psychologically than physically, because although your body tells you it hurts, your mind is reminding you that it hurts, and maybe you start getting rid of the ball too quick and you start looking for the rush," said Krieg, who recalled that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Chris Martin hit him so hard once that both the quarterback's cheek pads were knocked out of his helmet.

Carr's sack problems have been blamed on several factors, including an offensive line that has both performed poorly and been riddled with injuries. In a game against Seattle, for instance, the Texans used three centers on three successive snaps.

"It was just crazy, it was like musical chairs on the offensive line," Carr said.

But the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Carr, who has taken 190 career sacks already, has been criticized for holding the ball too long at times.

"There's a fine line you walk between being an aggressive quarterback and not being stupid so that you make the right decision for your team," said Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, the two-time Most Valuable Player who has taken his share of hard shots as a prototypical pocket passer. "So many things are happening in a split second. What people see from the sideline or on film is not what you see out on the field, where sometimes all you see is a flash of color.

"As an aggressive quarterback, you'll want to hold onto the ball to let the play develop," Warner added. "But then at the last second, it doesn't, and you have to decide whether to throw it away or take the hit. ... And people are screaming, `Throw it away,' but it's not that easy to throw the ball 35 yards to the sideline with a guy bearing down on you."

Carr said that waiting on the big play has been part of the sack equation for him.

"I've tried to let routes develop down the field because we had success with that last year. We were at the top of the NFL in terms of big plays," he said. "And this year, we've had only a fraction of what we had last year."

Not surprisingly, the Texans' sack statistics are blood in the water to opposing defensive players.

"Carr has all the abilities, all the talent in the world to go out there and be successful, and his offensive line is playing better," Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver said. "But you do tend to just want to pin your ears back and go after him."

From the day he was drafted, Carr has had to carry Houston. Partly out of necessity, he has also rushed for over 1,000 yards in his career. But after winning four, then five, and then seven games in their short history, this year's backslide has been obviously disappointing for the Texans.

Although their only win was on Oct. 30 against the Cleveland Browns, life in the pocket has been more bearable for Carr in the past four games. He's completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and three interceptions with just seven sacks.

Carr credits the recent modest turnaround to the scheme of offensive coordinator Joe Pendry, who replaced Chris Palmer after the second game of the season, and a stabilized offensive line.

"I know I've felt more comfortable since they have been consistently in there, the same guys, and they're doing a good job," Carr said. "When the sacks go down, it's amazing. The quarterback's numbers can go up, the team starts playing better. It's a good feeling."

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

Texans@Ravens Sunday, 1 p.m., Ch. 13, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Ravens by 8

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