Derek Carr

Angel And Demon: Derek Carr; Divine Deablo will be Raiders’ offensive and defensive MVPs

Derek Carr and Divine Deablo will be the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2022 offensive and defensive MVPs, respectively. The Raiders’ Angel and Demon will be the most valuable players on offense and defense.

That statement isn’t hyperbole or grandiose runaway imagination. The Silver and Black’s quarterback and linebacker each have the football knowledge, physical make-up, guts, and leadership to make this claim.

Who will be the Raiders’ MVP on offense and defense?

The Angel – QB Derek Carr

Really, it’s almost unfair to peg Carr as the 2022 offensive MVP. The Las Vegas brain trust, consisting of general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels, committed to the franchise quarterback, giving him long-term financial security and handing him the keys to the rebuilt offense.

The Raiders bestowed a sweet three-year, $120.5 million contract extension upon Carr with lofty expectations—such is life when you have that many zeroes on your contract. But I have little doubt Carr can live up to the expectations McDaniels and Ziegler set for themselves when they decided to team up with desert marauder (and Raiders owner) Mark Davis.

First and foremost, one can’t ignore how Carr not only navigated the ungodly amount of turmoil the Raiders had to go through (chief among them the embarrassing loss to the dastardly Jon Gruden—who was head coach and play-caller to controversy, and the probable career-ending incident with wide receiver Henry Ruggs III) but how the quarterback persevered in a situation where others would’ve easily wilted. He stood tall (something I’d like to see more often, even in a noisy pocket, but I digress) and withstood. That’s an admirable thing to do. It’s true, even for someone like me, who had the 2021 Raiders offensive MVP as kicker Daniel Carlson—the other DC.

2021 was from pretty for Derek Carr…

It wasn’t pretty at times, and it ended roughly with a last-minute faceplant against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs (which facilitated Davis’s getting rid of much of the former staff and bringing in the Patriot Twins) –McDaniels and Ziegler, if you haven’t guessed. But it was commendable, extremely so.

That situation and experience will harden anyone. And Carr should be filled with a terrible resolve now. As he noted, McDaniels and Ziegler didn’t play any games. They said they believed in him, saw him as the future and then backed up the Brinks truck to prove it.

Derek Carr and Josh McDaniels’ offense

The 2022 campaign may be about the Raiders striking a balance in McDaniels’ offense; however, it’s high time the Silver and Black Carr-pet bomb the opposition. Especially with Derek Carr now flanked by his all-time favorite target, wide receiver Davante Adams. The Raiders signal caller will also be throwing to DA17, but the Raiders signal caller also has tight end Darren Waller and the ever-reliable Hunter Renfrow.

And yes, I admit, I immediately gasped when thinking of the offensive line. Yet, Carr made it work behind the unit last season. For crying out loud, the Raiders made the playoffs as the offensive line began to gel and offer resistance. So, if new offensive line boss Carmen Bricillo is half his worth, he can get the big uglies ready to be Carr Insurance.

Want another bold take? McDaniels is a superior play caller and designer to Gruden, and he represents the best offensive coordinator Carr’s seen since Bill Musgrave.

The offense may come from the McDaniels’ minds, but it’ll flow through Derek Carr’s capable hands. And that’s why he’ll be the offensive MVP.

The Demon – LB Divine Deablo

Standing at a chiseled six-foot-three and 226 pounds with 4.42 speed, Deablo profiles as a divine offering from the football gods. It would even appease the late and great Al Davis. At that size and speed, Deablo is a classic throwback to the players the senior Davis preferred. In fact, Deablo is exactly what’s needed in today’s NFL. In particular, to combat offenses that have become an aerial showcase.

The college safety-turned-NFL linebacker has the imposing size and blazing speed required to match up physically and keep up with big tight ends who run like wide receivers. Deablo also has the physicality and mentality needed to be a force on the run.

This is critical for a Raiders defense tasked with thwarting (or marginally disrupting) Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs twice a year. Kelce may be getting older, just like the Raiders’ own Darren Waller, mind you, but he’s every bit as dangerous as a receiving threat.

The future is looking bright…

But more importantly than all that, Deablo proves he is a quick and eager learner. Going from college safety to pro linebacker is no easy task, and the Raiders’ ask of him to do so was originally thought to be a year-long process. Basically, he redshirted his rookie year to learn, absorb, and play on special teams. Due to his football IQ, Deablo played plenty on special teams. However, he was able to expedite the process of development.

His size, speed, and instincts were merely too good to keep off the field, and starting in Week 12, Deablo was a steady presence in the Raiders’ defensive alignments, garnering five starts. Of his 296 total snaps on defense, 270 came from Week 12 on, as Deablo finished with 45 total tackles (28 solo), one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. Pro Football Reference says that Deablo was targeted 13 times when he was covering passes. He let nine passes through (69.2% success rate) for 141 yards and no touchdowns.

How will Divine Deablo fit in Patrick Graham’s defense?

Now, highlighting Deablo isn’t a slight on hammerhead linebacker Denzel Perryman. A heat-seeking missile, the veteran middle linebacker led the Raiders in tackles last season (154 total, 102 solo) and landed on the Pro Bowl roster.

Yet, Deablo’s physical attributes offer Graham something no other linebacker on the Raiders roster can. We’re talking about his size and defensive back speed. He can be a moveable-match chess piece. And that’s what I fully expect Graham to do. The defensive coordinator is renowned for putting his players in the best possible position to succeed. So Deablo’s physical and mental makeup beckon to be used in every imaginable way. That includes playing in pass coverage, run defense, or rushing the passer.

With a full offseason, a year of NFL game experience under his belt, and a new defensive coaching staff featuring coordinator Patrick Graham and fiery linebacker coach Antonio Pierce, Deablo’s track is trending upwards. Even though he didn’t participate much in mandatory camp–limited to wearing a red non-contact jersey–Deablo is on track to become a starting linebacker once more.

The Demon will pay off — big — for the Graham’s Raiders defense.

*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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