The communication process for Derek Carr and his teammates is an ongoing, improving one, which the New Orleans Saints quarterback actually has sharpened at home, as a father.
The Saints (7-8) are in preparation this week to play the Buccaneers (8-7) on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Carr and his teammates have had to smooth out the line of communication this season, tonally and informationally. It's something the 10-year veteran had to work on when he entered the NFL.
"I had to learn that," he said. "I just did things my way and you watch those older guys in the '90s and that I grew up watching and the early 2000s, it's like, OK, that's how it's supposed to be. And then you learn that not everybody responds to that.
"One thing, if I'm just being honest, that taught me that the most was being a Dad. My 10-year-old does not respond the same way as my 7-year-old. My 10-year-old will outwork anybody. My 7-year-old has got all the talent in the world and he's like, 'Ah, I'll just throw it like this.' And I've got to go after him a little bit, whereas my 10-year-old, I just have to be like, 'Hey, it's OK to screw up.' He's a perfectionist. So the tone is different.
"Once I learned that as a Dad, that they're not all the same, you treat them all fair but not equal, I have done the same thing in my growth as a leader with different positions, not just receiver. Not everybody responds the same. I've had guys tell me, 'If I screw up, I want you to yell at me in the middle of practice.' I've had other guys that are like, 'Hey man, just come and talk to me. I don't like that.' OK, cool, no problem.
"So you're making little logs in your mind, you try your best to react the right way. Being a Dad has helped me the most, just learn how to love each kid individually, and how they respond best. Same thing with the team – how do I love them the best and get the best out of them individually, rather than just throwing a blanket over the whole thing."
Carr, who has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,417 yards and 19 touchdowns, with eight interceptions, possibly most needed to navigate the nuance with second-year receiver Chris Olave, who leads the team in receptions (81) and receiving yards (1,041 yards), with four touchdowns.
"It takes time," Carr said. "Communicating together. You can absolutely see that if I were to respond a certain way, some people in our circle would be like, 'Whoa,' and some people would be like, 'Yeah, I like that.' And then you kind of see the body language and kind of feel that in the moment.
"For me, I've always tried my best to learn as much about each individual as I can – whether that's watching, talking to them, getting to figure out what makes them tick, what motivates them. Because what motivates them is a direct correlation to how I can talk to them, too, how I can push them and try and get the best out of people."
KEEP SCRAPPING: Carr said he's sure that the team will maintain its fight even though it no longer has control and must rely on other teams in order to reach the playoffs. "The whole year has been tough, but the one thing that our guys keep showing is that they just keep fighting," he said. "It hasn't been perfect or exactly what we wanted, but guys continually show up, smiles on their faces. And that's due to the leadership that's been here for a long time – (defensive end) Cam (Jordan), T (safety Tyrann Mathieu), (linebacker) Demario (Davis). All those guys. They just keep coming, they just keep working and coaches do a great job of that as well."
NEVER RELAX: Carr said one of the reasons he believes teammates continue to show up and play hard is because of the fact that others want their jobs. "One thing I was told, no matter what the situation that you're in in the NFL, I was taught any chance you get to put a jersey on, any chance a coach gets to walk out here, you've got to keep proving it every day," he said. "Charles Woodson (a Pro Football Hall of Famer and Carr's teammate with the Raiders in 2014 and '15, when Woodson was 38 and 39 years old) used to tell me that.
"Year 18, he's like, 'I'm trying to prove it every day.' Because it doesn't matter who you are – here's Charles Woodson, arguably the best defensive player ever – and like, Dude, if I don't show that I can tackle or cover or make a play, that's it. You always keep that mind-set. As a player, whether it's been a great season or a tough season, you're always trying to show that. Because there's always someone waiting to replace you.
"They've got hundreds of college kids about to come up, that all want to take our jobs. We all still want to feed our families. Same thing with coaches, all that kind of stuff. That's something, when you first get into the league, that's something that's talked about by the older guys all the time."