After the draft concluded, I thought about the 202-, whenever the season starts, Las Vegas Raiders. In particular, pondering Derek Carr’s role. From there, I questioned what the actual thought should be regarding his career and tenure. With so much feeling and a fanbase firmly divided, maybe a realistic look at Carr should find it’s way into print. If you are a blind believer or out-of-control critic, please close this window and retreat.
The quick stats hold a mixed bag of results for Carr. While he’s eclipsed 3000 yards passing each year, that win-loss record sits at 39-55. Whether you think wins and losses are a team stat, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains, the Raiders, under Derek Carr’s stewardship, repeatedly failed to succeed. Bill Parcells said famously stated this. With a crisp TD/INT ratio, Carr easily makes the case for a long-term starter. Yet, what’s missing? With Carr, the stats neither add up nor tell the complete story.
Derek Carr throws a good ball. With accurate snap and velocity, Carr profiles as a passer that makes all of the throws. Meanwhile, he possesses the ability to extend plays with his feet. In fact, Carr tested among the quarterbacks at the 2014 Combine. Physically, Carr resides in the near-Aaron Rodgers realm of gifts. While that sounds far-fetched, check these throws.
For all of Carr’s abundant skills, time after time, he freezes. Whether he feels the oncoming rush or prefers to take the checkdown and hope for the best. Can you count the number of third and sevens that you watched Carr throw behind the sticks? Hoping a back will break three tackles feels like an absolute losing strategy. More importantly, Carr appears too reticent about taking off, when receivers aren’t open.
With nothing but green grass ahead of him, Carr won’t tuck and run. Instead, he chooses the path of least resistance, to the point of utter frustration. Case in point, while down twenty-one to the Tennessee Titans, he threw the ball away on fourth and goal at the one. Whether that touchdown would figure into the outcome or not, the leader of the team decided the smart move was to flick the ball away from the defense.
Derek Carr, throughout his career, shows a major flaw within his mental approach: rabbit ears. He hears/reads/sees everything written about him. From tweets to articles or commentary, the inability to block out negativity takes its toll. For example, when ESPN talking head Max Kellerman decided to spend national air time to criticize Carr, we all knew what could happen. Whatever we want to feel about Stephen A.Smith, he played Carr, using him for a ready-made story and a couple days of headlines. Carr fell for it. By challenging a TV talker to a fight, it spoke volumes about Carr. You don’t need to attend every argument that someone invites you to. People designated Tony Romo for a decade. He didn’t want to dish out beatings in the cage. Composure matters.
@ufc @danawhite hey how do I challenge a couple of these clowns on tv to a fight? I think we should start a business together. Where pro athletes can challenge some of these people to an octagon fight until they give us an answer…. You don’t know me… stop lying.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) January 23, 2019
When the Raiders drafted two wideouts and a soon-to-be running back, Jon Gruden sent a message. The team didn’t draft a quarterback or sign one as a UDFA. Carr will throw passes to Ruggs, Edwards, and Bowden. The WR room teems with talent and the Raiders will probably keep five or six of these players. As a result, the best of the lot should make the Vegas voyage, Carr will now enjoy a speedy wideout that takes simple routes the distance, physical, tackle-breaker, and a versatile playmaker. Through three days, Jon Gruden made Derek Carr’s job much easier. At the same time, he silenced the critics that whined about the Raiders lacking talent.
In the offseason, the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota. Now, Mariota will serve as Carr’s backup. However, don’t believe for a minute that Gruden won’t pull Carr during struggles. Mariota represents the single-biggest threat to Derek Carr’s long-term prospects in the desert. First, he’s making above-average backup money. Next, Gruden speaks glowingly about what Mariota brings to the offense. Plus, Mariota, drafted after Carr, boasts a playoff win. In Kansas City. Jon Gruden tied the first three years of his return tenure to the arm of Derek Carr. Gruden, despite the boisterous image, is quite intelligent. He realizes a team in a new town, playing in a palatial stadium must win. The willingness to sub Carr out for Mariota will be a quicker decision.
If you read or take nothing away from this article, understand a few thoughts. No one, not one rational Raiders fan, wants to see Derek Carr fail in Vegas. The team’s success is directly tied to him, while he plays on it. Anyone labeling someone a hater, could not be any more wrong. Critics in the fanbase, don’t hate Carr. They’re frustrated. After 6,311 days, people want results. Correspondingly, some believe that 3313 pass attempts and 94 starts feeling like a great sample size in learning what Carr can do. On the other hand, his most ardent defenders preach patience. For my own sake, I don’t engage with the overly faithful, they’re set in their ways and all I derive from those convos are a penchant for expletives.
Is Derek Carr a great quarterback?
No. He flashed superstar traits over fifteen games in 2016. That’s not a slight. Granted, his stats appear much better, yet the wins remain far off. Derek Carr possesses the physical gifts to be very good. With a doubt. His issues remain passive play and misdirected frustration. Fans will be upset. If their team loses on a consistent basis, anger should be expected. Block it out and play better.
Where does he fit in the canon of great Raiders quarterbacks?
Well, Blanda, Lamonica, Stabler, Plunkett, and Gannon remain the elite. Next, Jeff Hostetler enjoyed a better career as a Raider. Even though Hostetler lacked Carr’s ability, he parlayed what he had into four consecutive winning seasons and a playoff victory. A shade below that, Derek Carr, with time, could climb the list. Spare me the most touchdowns and yards arguments. In all honesty, I don’t care. How would you explain Carr’s career to someone that could not read a statline? Film.
As the Raiders enter the season, whenever it commences, Derek Carr will start. That’s a fact, beyond contention. With the eyes of a fanbase, a new city, and coach, looking to cement his legacy, he must win. When he’s aggressive, Derek Carr can lead this team. Yet, we can’t harken back to 2016 and wish for a return. All of the expectations, resting on his shoulders.