In a season in which quarterback play was key, did Derek Carr of Las Vegas Raiders pull his own weight?
It feels like Carr was under a lot of pressure this past season. Many things have gone wrong in previous years stretching from coaching to the supporting cast. With better weapons and another year with Gruden, expectations were high in 2020. Carr was steady last year but it wasn’t enough to save them from an epic collapse. Let’s review how he played in 2020.
Derek Carr registered career-highs for the Raiders
Carr played at a solid level in 2020 and was instrumental in all Raiders’ wins. Against high-caliber teams like the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs, he threw for 906 yards and nine touchdowns with passer ratings no lower than 119.7. Also, he registered a career-high in passing yards for the third straight year (4,103). He was fifth in yards-per-attempt with 7.9, showing that he was going deep more often.
Darren Waller, Nelson Agholor, and Henry Ruggs III deserve credit for stretching the field, which Carr gladly took advantage of. He also showed some mobility with a career-high in rushing yards, first downs, and touchdowns. While the team’s overall record was still disappointing, especially with the 6-3 start, he put them in a position to win a couple more games if it wasn’t for last-minute collapses on defense.
In stats such as passer rating, yards, and touchdowns, Carr finished 11th or better in the league. He also finished sixth and second in comebacks and fourth-quarter comebacks. Most of the team’s victories were thanks to him (excluding Cleveland). He also helped revive Agholor’s career and has something special with Waller, which defenses are yet to figure out.
Derek Carr could improve in these areas
As good as Carr was for most of the year, there are things he needs to work on. He accounted for 17 turnovers (nine picks and eight fumbles lost). He also needs to work on sensing pressure. The Raiders quarterback had an issue with holding on to the ball and needs to improve in that category. While he ran the ball more than usual this season, a lot of those rushes were in the first half of the year. There were times where ‘DC4’ should have run more rather than taking a sack (pre-groin injury).
It’s also clear that Carr simply didn’t play as well in the second half of the season during their collapse. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he was bad in that stretch, but he just wasn’t as good as we know he’s capable of. The offense all together had an issue with early production late in 2020. In their final six games, they failed to score points in opening drives. Moments like that set the tone in games that were lost or too close for comfort. Some decisions in the red zone were also questionable whether it was on Carr or Gruden, which is something they must work on in the future.
What does this mean for the future?
Carr has proven to be a solid quarterback for the Raiders who can compete against the best. The team can also take some weight off of his shoulders by improving from a franchise-worst year on defense. Even a mediocre defense would have helped earn two or three more wins. He has also developed good chemistry with the offense and coaching staff.
Expect Carr to also utilize Ruggs and Edwards more when they have a full offseason to work with each other. It should be clear that ‘DC4’ is not the problem in Vegas and is almost guaranteed to be the starter for next season. While their can be improvements made for the team, quarterback is far down the list.
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