Quietly, almost zen-like, without bringing too much attention to himself, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has “revived” his career. But Raider Nation already knew that.
We finally made it through Week 11 of the NFL, and the numbers don’t lie. There are exactly four AFC quarterbacks who have made it to Week 12 with a 100+ passer rating. This consists of some very high-profile names, including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and (drum roll please!) Derek Carr. Although this may be a surprise to some who have not been following the Raiders closely this season (and perhaps a shock to some who have) 2019 has been one of the best years of Carr’s career.
Carr’s numbers at a first glance may not seem overwhelming, with 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, 2,494 passing yards and 105.2 passer rating, it’s the efficiency and grit that Carr has been playing with that has been the most impressive. Who are we kidding? His numbers are still impressive in and of themselves. Throughout the season, he has completed 72.3% of his passes, coming in the second-highest in the league. He is clocking in at 8.0 Yards-Per-Attempt, which has been steadily increasing through the second half of the season. What is the difference in the Carr we are seeing now vs. the Carr, we saw last year? For DC, it’s a different ball game.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, one of the biggest contributions to Carr’s success this year can be traced back to his offensive line. The “biggest” can also be used to describe the size of the five who are down in the trenches. Left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Richie Incognito, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson, and right tackle Trent Brown are the designated starters. Hudson is the runt of the litter, weighing in at 299 pounds. This is one of the heaviest offensive lines in football. The five behemoths that have protected Carr all season have embraced the nickname “Carr Insurance.” They have only allowed 15 sacks this season, the second-fewest in the NFL, even with a rotating cast of backups filling in due to injuries. What is their insurance deductible? Probably a lot of weightlifting and protein.
Gruden The Quarterback Whisperer?
In the first year of coach John Gruden’s second stint with the Raiders, many doubted whether Carr would continue to be the face of the franchise. It can now be said without a doubt that he is not. Gruden has taken that role in full force, and it seems that Carr has completely bought into it. Carr seems to be enjoying stepping out of the spotlight. Gruden’s offense has been known as one of the most complicated in the game, but a second year in the system has begun to elevate Carr to new heights that many critics would have thought impossible.
The New Look Raiders?
Carr has been firing from all cylinders this season, and this only the beginning. These Raiders are different than what has been seen in years past. Could it be the young, emerging rookies? The eccentric head coach? Or perhaps, it’s a quarterback who is no longer afraid to step on the gas.