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Reality Of A Raider Rebuild: Derek Carr & The QB Quandary

The Las Vegas Raiders are under .500 late in the season after a promising start. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t an occurrence that has become common over the last eight years.

Many within Raider Nation have bellowed to the heavens for a rebuild; a complete tear down of all that stands so that a contender may rise from the ashes. And that rebuild starts by jettisoning Derek Carr for whatever they can.

Fact: Derek Carr may not be and does not have to be the answer. However…

The reality is, rebuilding and the Raiders don’t have the best track record, so the tempering of expectations is strongly advised. 

Perception: Let’s trade Carr and draft our quarterback of the future!

Reality: The Raiders’ draft history is porous across the board, let alone when it comes to selecting quarterbacks. Outside of Ken Stabler and Derek Carr, the Raiders have not selected a signal caller worthy of merit in their very storied history.

The Silver and Black have made 99 draft selections since 2010, including this past year’s class. This tally includes 13 first-round picks.

Only 19 of those drafted remain on the current roster. Five of them were first rounders, but two of those picks (Josh Jacobs and Clelin Ferrell) could be on their way out by the start of next season. Safety Johnathan Abram may also have one foot out the door.

This issue spans coaching staffs and front office regimes. This isn’t a Reggie McKenzie problem. It’s not a Jon Gruden or Mike Mayock problem. It’s a Raider problem.

Can you trust the Raiders to get it right?

The question becomes very obvious. Even if the Raiders do ship out Carr for an extra first rounder (anything less would be an utter failure by the franchise), do you trust them to make the right choice in a muddled, underwhelming quarterback class, place the right pieces around that choice, and groom them for success? Assuming the best in such a situation is how you end up with JaMarcus Russell. 

Perception: Go after Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers in the offseason! 

Reality: Carr is the best option at quarterback for at least another season.

With the current roster structure, Raider Nation should not expect any quarterback to be a change agent. There was a time when veteran quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady may have considered Las Vegas as a quality option when leaving their previous mantles, but that was prior to the wheels falling off in the most important place of all: The Trenches.

When previous Russell Wilson trade rumors hit the public consciousness, the Raiders were mentioned as a possible landing spot. While this could have been a smokescreen, it at least seemed plausible due to the Raiders’ offensive line. Unfortunately, the Raiders now have a unit that has become a liability in pass protection while being a joke in the run blocking department.

Rodgers’ leaving the Packers to dig the Raiders out of a grave that he might end up being chucked into seems unlikely. Also, Wilson rumors now include less volatile teams with more defensive stability. Go figure.

Perception: A great quarterback will minimize the issues elsewhere on the team and lift them into the postseason!

Reality: …ha. 

In this writer’s opinion, the quarterback position is vastly overrated. In a game where a player can’t truly change things on both sides of the ball from a play-to-play perspective, said player does not deserve to be so shackled to success and failure (with a few glaring exceptions).

Carr has been thrashed by Raiders fans for never being the kind of quarterback that leads his team to victory no matter how steep the odds. We all know the famous Carr Stan narrative: Carr has never had a good defense. This is an indisputable fact. Carr has never had a defense finish any higher than 20th in points allowed, and that was in his vaunted 2016 season. But let’s take this dig a little bit further.

How often have popular replacement names over the years, like Rodgers and Tom Brady, had to carry poor defenses into the playoffs?

Mind you, I do not think Carr is a better quarterback than either of the aforementioned names. That would be lunacy. But this should help put some things into perspective:

QB Defense >15th Playoffs

Carr 8/8 seasons 1

Rodgers 6/14 seasons 3

Brady *2/22 seasons 1

In 2002 and 2005, the Patriots finished with the 17th ranked scoring defense. In 2002, they missed the playoffs, and in 2005, they lost in the divisional round.

The Packers had the 19th ranked scoring defense in 2011, but led the league in interceptions. Not much different from the opportunistic Raiders team in 2016, led defensively by Khalil Mack.

Two of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever watched can’t even guarantee a postseason run without a quality defense. 

Carr has never had the luxury of a top-15 scoring defense. Rodgers has spent the better part of his career with a unit of that caliber. Brady, on the other hand, has only played three seasons without at least a top ten scoring defense. That includes last year in Tampa Bay.

The peripherals always matter. The Raiders would need a foolproof plan to move on from Carr next year and be a viable contender in anything short of five seasons.

History would state they won’t have one, but the mistakes will come regardless. This isn’t just about the players a team drafts; it’s about the staff that drafts and coaches those players. The general manager is the one that fills out the roster around the players.

Mark Davis should tear down the front office, but bring in a name that sees a middle of the pack team that could elevate with the right schematics, culture and a bit of draft day “luck.” Otherwise the Raiders will go from bad (Gruden) to worse (Dabo Swinney anyone?)

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*Top Photo: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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2 thoughts on “Reality Of A Raider Rebuild: Derek Carr & The QB Quandary”

  1. I’ve made this argument for years. Without at least a middle of the road defense you can’t expect to get wins. It is not Carr’s fault. Getting rid of Carr would be a mistake.

  2. It’s probably best for DC that he get traded. I don’t think the Raiders will ever be anything as long as Davis is the owner. Davis is so far over his head it’s sort of pitiful. As a result, people in the organization take advantage of his simple-mindedness and tendency not to demand accountability.

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