In his sixth year, Derek Carr and the Raiders enter a crossroads. With eighty starts under his belt, enough of a sample size exist to accurately judge him. With Vegas still a year away, 2019 could be Carr’s last chance to prove that he is the quarterback to lead the franchise into the future. However, for fans to answer this question, fans must possess the ability to look inside of themselves for that reservoirs of objectivity.
Derek Carr will play his eighty-first game as a member of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. After 2864 dropbacks, the book on his begins to take shape. Sporting a career completion percentage of 63 percent, that slides Carr into the middle of the pack. Granted, others remain worst, but Carr will suffer from erratic throws. Although he owns above average arm talent, Carr will air mail or sail passes that should find his receivers in stride.
If you are a Carr defender, 2016 remains the year that they hang their hats. The Raiders offense purred, Carr enjoyed his highest adjusted yards per attempt and fewest sacks allowed. Many touted him as an MVP candidate. People saw an aggressive Carr that took vertical chances and lead with a forceful approach to the team. Yet, the severe leg injury suffered that season derailed that magic ride. To this day, people will hold on to that season as what Carr can accomplish.
To be honest, someone reading this will take offense to merely questioning Carr. Nothing you read here is steeped in malice. Additionally, that sensitivity extends to the quarterback and his inner circle. From challenging inane TV hosts to fight or blocking trolling media online, Carr displays occasionally thin skin. Granted, he is human and we all become annoyed. Yet, summarily dismissing the silly would work wonders and save time. If you observe his most ardent defenders, they take serious umbrage to those that may not show overwhelming deference.
They will snitch-tag, whine or outright become defensively angry. None of this helps anything. No one that wants the Raiders to succeed, hopes Derek Carr fails. With his position, comes criticism. No play, not Brady, Newton, Brees, or Manning resides above criticism. Yet, fans circle the wagon around him. On the other hand, Rich Gannon was a 33-year-old veteran with only two seasons of completing sixty percent of his passes. He took the reins and brought the Raiders their last real measure of sustained greatness. He blew off criticism and just played football. None of his family rode in to defend his failures or shortcomings.
When 2019 ends, Carr’s contract drops its dead money total from 27.5 to 5 million dollars. In plain terms, combined with no more roster bonus, a move could occur. The Raiders would enjoy the flexibility to move on from him and not hold an albatross of cash around their proverbial necks. Plus, this contract would also make Carr an intriguing trade. Now, no one is saying any of this needs to occur, just that possibilities exist.
In an informal social media poll, a little more than half think Carr is the long-term solution for the Raiders. If you venture deeper, people remain split. Some laud Carr as the latest in a line of Raider greats. On the other hand, others view him as someone that the team invested time and money in and the team does not appear any better.
In reality, 2019 feels like the final test for Derek Carr and the Raiders. As a result, outside of his teammates, he’s playing for an audience of one. Jon Gruden, and Gruden alone will decide his fate. Nothing I will write, or others can opine, changes that. Carr needs to not only impress Gruden alone. However, the only unanswered question remains if Carr is a transitional quarterback, a bridge to Vegas. How that plays out remains a mystery.