Since being drafted in the second round in 2014, Derek Carr has had an inconsistent career. Is Carr the answer long-term? This is the biggest debate within Raider nation, especially if you are a fan that is active in the team’s social media realm. Personally, I’ve been one of the biggest Carr detractors around, for many reasons. Here is a break down of why Carr is a huge part to this teams success moving forward. I have changed my stance and see him being this teams leader for years to come.
In 2016, Carr proved that he could be a top ten quarterback in football. However, since then it’s been a struggle for Carr and the Raiders to win games. Despite his own flaws, Carr hasn’t been allotted a ton of support over the past three years. Offensive coordinator changes, a wide receiver room that changes more than your girlfriend on date night and a fan base that is growing tired. In spite of all that, I will break down why this will go down as his best season.
Learning an offense is the most difficult part of the game. Carr has had to learn a new one many times in his pro career. Jon Gruden probably has the most complex offensive playbook in the NFL, which is even more of a challenge. Derek, in Year 2 looks calm and collected while slicing defenses up.
One negative that is holding him back is the careless mistakes. However, I think that the way the offense is operating this year, he will put up a wonderful season. The way Gruden is mixing in tight ends, wide receivers and running backs on short/precise routes is a perfect fit for Carr.
The Carr detractors (including myself) love to point out the YPA. However, Carr has a higher YPA than Gannon had in his MVP season. He is running the offense the way it’s built. Through six games, the Raiders strength of the team has been offense.
Mobility in the Pocket
In the off-season, Carr stated that he wanted to use his feet more. He’s always been an underrated athlete and it’s been perplexing why he hasn’t used that to his advantage.
Fumble aside last week, it was nice to see Carr try and create as he did with his leap for the first down against Kansas City. But these aren’t the plays I’m referring to, simple plays where Carr avoids a sack by climbing the pocket have been missing for two years.
In the game vs. Green Bay on Sunday, Carr avoided four sacks and created 83 yards of offense by simply stepping up in the pocket. Something he struggled with for years which was no basic pocket awareness. There’s many reasons for the improvement including: being more comfortable in Gruden’s system, trusting his offensive line and being fully healthy for once.
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Carr still has room to grow here, too many times his inaccuracy is caused by happy feet, instead of just stepping up and firing the football. However, he has improved vitally here and deserves a boat load of credit.
The Weapons are Here
Since Gruden was hired Carr has had the following wide receivers to work with: Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris, Keon Hatcher, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, J.J. Nelson, Hunter Renfrow, Trevor Davis and Keelan Doss.
That is a ton of new faces and guys that you have to build a relationship with, another difficult thing for a quarterback to deal with. Carr has done a good job (along with Gruden) of making Trevor Davis and Keelan Doss look like NFL receivers the past few weeks. However, with Waller, Jones, Williams, Moreau and Josh Jacobs the hope is those said guys don’t remain major keys to the offense.
Carr has weapons, that excuse is gone. I expect him to use them and keep this offense humming.
Carr will be the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback next year. Gruden is in win now mode, and is too impatient to rely on a rookie quarterback at this point in his coaching career.
I project Carr to finish the season with 3200 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, a decent season for a guy in a run first offense. Raider fans will continue to fight over it, as long as Carr is the signal caller and rightfully so. However, I do believe he will get the job done and all anyone wants is to win.