CB Brandon Carr: The Difference Between Playoffs and the Regular Season
Cornerback Brandon Carr is a 9 year veteran who has played in postseason as both a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys. If you want to talk to a respected team leader about the difference between regular season games and the postseason, he’s a go-to guy.
“It’s another notch up with the intensity,” Carr says of playoff football. “It’s truly ‘win or go home’. Guys are really giving it their all for 60 minutes. We’re trying to get these young guys in-tune with what’s really going to happen when it’s our time to go out there.
“Playoff games are a lot of emotion. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s from March and April when you started training, all the way to now. It’s intense and it’s physical.”
The Cowboys finished the regular season with the best record in the NFC. But according to Carr, those 13 wins don’t mean a thing once the postseason gets underway.
“Now you wipe the slate clean again,” he explains. “We understand this is all that matters now. We put the work in, but now it’s time to do the extra work. You play to get to the postseason. It’s up to us to go out there and make our plays, create the same excitement and fun we had in the previous 16 games.”
That’s a similar attitude and message the veterans took back in offseason work. Coming off the miserable 2015 season that produced only 4 wins, they were ready to start fresh.
“Each year is different, the year before doesn’t give you any indication of how the next year will go,” says Carr. “We saw that last year. That’s why it’s a blessing to be in this situation. We worked hard from early March until now. And it’s still a work in progress. We’re still trying to get better and we’re still competing.
“It’s important to wipe the slate clean each year, come out here with a chip on your shoulder and eager to go out there and work. Guys have stepped in from Day 1 with a chip on their shoulder and the mentality that this year is the year.”
As for their current foray into postseason, Carr is especially excited about the health of the defense. There are veteran players like cornerback Morris Claiborne who missed significant time in the regular season due to injury, but are due to return to action on Sunday against the Packers.
“It should make it better,” Carr says of the returning veterans. “As for the guys who’ve stepped-in, with our ‘next man up mentality’, they’ve fulfilled their duties well. We now have a lot of confidence in those guys. Now we can add these returning playmakers back into the equation so we’ll have more guys out there making plays for us. I’m definitely excited to see Mo (Claiborne). He’s a guy that’s been battling for 5 years. He had a heck of a season up until he got hurt. I’m looking forward to him picking up where he left off.”
Sunday’s Divisional Round game is a rematch of Week 6 of the regular season, a Cowboys’ victory in which the Cowboys defense totaled 4 takeaways (3 fumble recoveries, 1 interception).
The ability to force turnovers had been the Achilles heel for the Cowboys defense the previous season. But as the 2016 season wore on, the playmaking improved and the Cowboys finished the regular season with 20 takeaways.
Matt Ludtke via AP
“It’s a product of constantly and relentlessly getting better,” explains Carr. “We knew about the lack of takeaways early in the season, but it didn’t deter us from continuing to work because they come in bunches. Once they come, it’s contagious. Guys across the board have been getting their hands on the ball and making plays.”
The Packers have improved greatly since Week 6 and they’re one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They’re currently on a 7 game win streak, including a Wild Card lopsided victory over the Giants on Sunday afternoon.
So what does Carr see as the biggest difference between the Packers in Week 2 of Postseason as compared to Week 6 of the Regular Season at Lambeau?
“The quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) is making a lot of plays and extending plays with his legs and being savvy in the pocket,” says Carr. “He has a lot of confidence in his receivers and puts them in position to make plays.”