Losing four of the last five games, the last two by seven points each, coupled with believing the New Orleans Saints offense can be vastly more potent than it has been, drove quarterback Derek Carr to the level of frustration that spilled over a few times in the last two games.
As the Saints (3-4) prepare to face the Colts (3-4) on Sunday at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Carr on Wednesday admitted that he better can express himself than the way he has on occasion.
"I know what's good for me, and I know when I'm in a good place, and I know when I'm too frustrated with whatever," he said. "Everyone thought I was yelling at (offensive coordinator) Pete (Carmichael) one time, I wasn't even talking to Pete. Everyone thought one thing or this thing or I'm mad at that or I'm mad at this.
"Man, 10 years ago, when I got into the league every quarterback was cussing everybody out. And now, I didn't even cuss nobody out and everyone thinks that everyone is mad at each other. So, times are definitely changing. I can tell by the gray hairs in my beard, and by people getting upset by a quarterback yelling.
"But, I do have to temper my emotions. I think, with a little bit of the frustration of losing, I've let that get the best of me, if I'm honest. Usually, no matter a mistake, I'm super positive. But I also realize how good we can be, and I won't change the demand of excellence from myself, from my teammates. But there is a better way to do it, I think."
At 19 points per game, the Saints rank 21st in the league and their 326 yards per game ranks 17th. The Saints are 9 of 24 in the red zone, a percentage (37.5) that's tied for 28th.
Carr said he knew the operation totally wouldn't be smooth early, but the inconsistency has been a bit more than expected. He and receiver Chris Olave have had a few communication hiccups.
"Early in this thing, we knew that there would be bumps. We just didn't think we would only have this many wins at this point, but we knew there would be a couple of bumps in the road," he said. "We're just talking through those things on how to be problem-solvers.
"One thing I said after the (Jacksonville) game is, I'm too emotional right now. I've wanted it so bad, to be perfect from the beginning. I'm in Year 10, I'm not in Year 2. I have just this expectation of how it should feel, but I have had to calm myself and just be a better communicator. I explained where I've been wrong in some of my expressions and things like that.
"Maybe there's a different way to go about certain things, and honestly, (Olave) may have caught the brunt of something that wasn't even about him. And the same to me, I've been yelled at by players and coaches in my career. But then, you talk about it.
"Football is a violent, tough sport. Sometimes there's emotions and things are going to happen. But one thing Rich Bisaccia taught me: You can have that moment, just make sure you always circle back. And I thought that the conversations Chris and I had have been so productive, and so good, that I think he's in a good place. I like where he's at. His mentality today was awesome, made some great plays."
Bisaccia, a former assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and interim head coach for the Raiders from 2018-21, currently is assistant head coach and special teams coordinator with the Packers.
After the Jacksonville loss, Carr said he was upset and angry and stewed for 15 to 18 hours, then began reaching out to teammates.
"I was Face-timing all the guys on offense, all the leaders," he said. "We're demanding from each other. We're encouraging one another. Iron sharpens iron. We don't have to hide and not talk about it, let's get it out there.
"What's your problem? What's my problem? What's our problem? How do we fix it? And be men about it. I think the ultimate thing that I took away was I felt this unity in the last four or five days. This unity, this come-togetherness. We put it out there, we said what we needed to say and everyone felt good leaving the conversation. Every conversation was like, 'That feels right. That feels right. Now, hold me to that. I'm going to hold you to that.'
"I think it was super positive, I was super encouraged by it. We're doing it together, and that's what I love."