Derek Carr’s on the rise, but Aaron Rodgers sets the bar
Derek Carr just signed a 5-year extension worth $125 million, and in the last three years, he has positioned himself in the upper echelon of quarterbacks. Whether he’s elite or not is up for debate, but what’s clear is the fact that his performance has been similar to that of quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
The #Raiders and QB Derek Carr have finalized a 5-year monster extension worth $125M, sources say. Highest paid player in history 💰💰
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 22, 2017
Although Rodgers didn’t become the de facto quarterback in Green Bay until his fourth season in the league, once he got a hold of the position, he never relented and immediately played like the first-pick he was back in 2005.
After Brett Favre supposedly retired and unsuccessfully tried to gain the position back, Rodgers started a game for the first time in 2008. Even though he was unspectacular on his way to a 6-10 record, Rodgers showed he was there to stay. That year, he threw for 4038 yards, 28 touchdowns and had a QB rating of 93.8, his “lowest” as a starter, but the sign of better times ahead.
By the end of 2010, Rodgers accounted for 12,394 passing yards, 86 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. In the same manner, he averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt, meaning that he threw all kinds of passes and not just dump offs.
On the other hand and after possibly being a victim of reverse nepotism, Carr took the starting quarterback job from the short-lived incumbent Matt Schaub before the beginning of the 2014 season.
Since 2014, Carr has thrown for 11,194 yards, 81 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions while averaging 6.5 yards per throw. Solid numbers for a quarterback on the rise, but still not good enough if Carr wants to join the cream of the crop.
The cast around the two quarterbacks has to be taken into account as well. In spite of having on paper what was an excellent offensive line, Aaron Rodgers was always running for his life and was sacked a total of 115 times in three years (50 in 2009). In spite of the sacks, he found ways to move the football on a constant basis which was an indictment of how poor the Packers front office performed when it tried to assemble adequate protection of Rodgers.
While Scott Wells was still developing into a savvy lineman, Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton were aging veterans whose best years had gone by them. Likewise, Daryn Colledge was never anything out of the ordinary.
On the contrary, Carr has enjoyed very good protection through his first three years in the league. Even if the Raiders offensive line was not as dominant in his rookie year as it is now, it was not without a lack of talent as Donald Penn and Gabe Jackson were already key cogs. Furthermore, former Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski was very apt himself until Rodney Hudson replaced him.
Nowadays, the Raiders have got one of the best offensive lines in the league and it shows as Carr has been sacked “just” 71 times in the last three years; He has had optimal protection when he has needed to step up his game.
When it comes to receivers, Rodgers had better receivers; he threw to Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and a young James Jones. Furthermore, Jermichael Finley was effective when called up.
In spite of now throwing to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, Carr’s best receiver during his rookie was an older version of James Jones. Cordarrelle Patterson and Jared Cook joined the Raiders this past offseason and might prove to be the missing link in the Raiders aerial attack; it just wasn’t the case back in 2014 when other than Jones, Carr had no offensive weapons to game plan around.
There is one area where Carr’s lagging, but not for much longer: Super Bowl rings. Rodgers won his first and only Super Bowl in his third year as a starter while Carr has as many rings as you or me. Had his leg not been broken, this might have been a different article but his leg broken indeed was.
Accolades and stats wise, Rodgers has been better than Carr in their first years as starters, but not by much. Moreover, Rodgers had the luxury of developing for two years and behind Brett Favre while Carr was thrown into a not optimal situation.
So even if Rodgers had more success in his first year as a starter, Carr has not been bad at all and the best is yet to come.