Derek Carr

Does Raiders QB Derek Carr Have Case for Being Underrated?

It’s not easy to talk about Derek Carr. It can bring the best or the worst of many trying to make sense of the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback. One writer tried though and he has a compelling case. 

Scholars will likely open a course about how much division Carr brought among Raider Nation. When it comes to the polarizing quarterback, he receives either too much or too little credit. To his advantage, he still has plenty of time to define his legacy before he retires. Once he does, it will be easier in retrospect to define the impact he has had and will have for the Raiders. In the meantime, we can try to be as objective as we can and gather as much data as possible to have a clearer picture of whom Carr really is as a quarterback.

Trying to Make Sense of Raiders QB Derek Carr

One argument in Carr’s favor is the fact Drew Brees and he are the only quarterbacks to have posted a season of 70% completion percentage, 4,000 yards, and less than 10 interceptions. No other quarterback in NFL history has reached that milestone and it is indeed worth mentioning. On the other hand, Carr hasn’t been able to beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead. For every good statistic, his most avid defenders cite, his critics come back with another one. However, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic recently wrote an in-depth breakdown of the Raiders going into the 2020 season. He really does a great job of analyzing every single facet of the team. One of the points he covers is Carr and his performance at the helm in 2019.

Kapadia mentions that Carr rates well in pretty much every meaningful metric. When looking at stats, it’s always important to consider the existence of an outlier. In the Raiders quarterback case, they point to consistency and good play at the quarterback position.

There’s no perfect, all-encompassing quarterback metric, but looking at the more useful ones, Carr was a top-10 quarterback last season. EPA per dropback strips out garbage time — when a team is leading by a significant amount or trailing by a significant amount. Carr suffered from the opposite of stat-padding. His overall numbers took a hit because of negative plays when games were already out of hand.

Related: Raiders Had One of the Weakest Wide Receiver Corps in 2020

When trailing, teams tend to pass in an effort to catch up. This approach may or may not work, but the quarterback will get yards in chunks while padding out their numbers. In Carr’s case, the opposite is true. Also of note is how efficient Carr is at attempting high-percentage throws.

The expected completion percentage on the passes Carr attempted was 67.9, which ranked second among all starters (only Drew Brees’ was higher). In other words, Carr was attempting a lot of high-percentage throws.

The areas the QB is lagging in

Kapadia points out there are a couple defensive formations that gave Carr fits.

The two coverages that gave him trouble were Cover-3 (a three-deep zone with four underneath defenders) and Cover-2 (a two-deep zone with five underneath defenders).

Similarly, Carr’s “average pass last season traveled just 6.3 yards past the line of scrimmage,” which according to Kapadia ranked 38th out of 39.  While it’s uncertain if Carr can fix these areas, the fact he’s succeeded in spite of them needs to be mentioned.

Carr’s positives seem to outweigh the negatives, and this year, the addition of new weapons on offense should help him be even better. Kapadia’s compelling analysis deserves to be followed up in the 2020 season.

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Top Photo: John Hefty/Associated Press

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