The biggest rivalry in sports is Derek Carr haters versus Derek Carr lovers and just like pretty much any debate, there are two sides to each coin.
This side points to heads, with Carr moving into his house right next to Jon Gruden’s in Vegas. The two will probably be neighbors with each other, drawing up plays to make a splash as the team moves from the Bay to Sin City. As much as people want to talk, Carr and Gruden are a perfect head coach-quarterback pairing, and will be together for a long time.
Like it or Not, the Raiders Will Stick with Derek Carr in Las Vegas
What Else is Really Out There?
The most obvious reason is that a franchise quarterback is tough to come by. Teams like the Bears have traded the entire farm to move up for the player they think will potentially be the franchise savior; and many times they end up with Mitchell Trubisky.
This isn’t to say the Raiders shouldn’t bring in some competition at quarterback. After all, Dak Prescott was a fourth round pick, and Russell Wilson was taken in the third. Neither were expected to become starters, at least not immediately.
However, completely cutting ties with Carr makes zero sense. Relying on a rookie to run the offense is not a good idea either. And there are not a lot of options at veterans that sound any better than Carr. Philip Rivers and Eli Manning might be available, but they didn’t show much in 2019 other than being washed up.
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota could be young options. Neither are appetizing. Winston might rack up bigger stats than Carr, but Gruden would have fits at how many interceptions he throws. Mariota can’t stay healthy to save his life. In fact, he has never started 16 games in his career. Plus, is his ceiling really any higher than Carr’s?
He’s Shown He Can Win
Many people think that Carr reached his ceiling in 2016 and will never get back to that. But even if that year is his ceiling, it isn’t half bad. He led the Raiders to 12 wins behind a defense that ranked in the bottom six in terms of total yards allowed. Fans are still left wondering “what if” that season after Carr – and the Raiders – season was cut short due to a broken leg.
There is no denying that Carr hasn’t been the same player since then. In 2017, he suffered a transverse process fracture in his back early in the season, but only missed one game. However, since then he has seemed skittish in the pocket, throwing the ball away at the slightest bit of pressure.
Things seemed to get worse in 2018. Carr was sacked a career high 52 times and was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when under duress. However, the signal-caller made it a point to improve this during the offseason. The eye test proves this, as he has moved around and extended plays more often than the previous two seasons. In fact, at one point in 2019, he was actually the top quarterback in the league under pressure:
Derek Carr has posted the TOP passer rating vs. pressure this season! 😎 pic.twitter.com/Kksm2IdoVh
— PFF (@PFF) November 23, 2019
Overall, despite the team falling short of a winning season, Carr was a key reason the team was even thinking of the postseason. He orchestrated a few more of his signature comebacks, sometimes while running with patchwork guys at wide receiver, and a defense that basically turned over its entire secondary and linebacking corps between the beginning and end of the year.
Knowing Gruden’s Offense is Complicated
Looking at Gruden’s history, there isn’t a lot that screams “rookie quarterback.” This is a guy who made journeyman Rich Gannon famous and won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson. Gannon, and other quarterbacks who have worked with him, such as Bruce Gradkowski readily talk about how complicated the verbiage is for Gruden’s playbook. Gannon also notes how the coach’s strong personality can make him better himself and a rookie might be broken by that coaching style.
Many people bemoan Carr as a dink-and-dunk quarterback, unwilling to let it fly sometimes. But that’s Gruden’s MO, meaning he might be just what Gruden wants. In fact, ole Chucky was on record after a loss to the Jaguars this year saying he thought Carr should have checked the ball down more. Rumors are that one reason Al Davis traded Gruden to the Buccaneers was that he wanted a more vertical passing attack.
With Carr always operating as an efficient passer, it should be no surprise that he is putting up the best numbers of his career paired with Chucky. The past two years have seen him go over 4,000 yards passing for the first time ever. In 2018 he had his best-ever completion percentage, 68.9, which he then further improved on to 70.4 in 2019. He’s also thrown ten or fewer interceptions both years with Gruden.
And here is a fun fact – if Carr does indeed stay with the Silver and Black, it will be the first time in his career that he has been in the same offense for three years. Haters will hate, but all signs point to Carr being back in black for the Raiders in 2020.