Raiders: An Analytical Look At Jimmy Garoppolo Vs. Derek Carr

Advanced Stats Prove Jimmy Garoppolo Is A Better Fit Than Derek Carr For Raiders

Derek Carr is out and Jimmy Garoppolo is in – a move that, like all moves, has caused mixed reactions from those who cheer for the Las Vegas Raiders. While some fans are satisfied with the swap under center, others are downright disgusted. On Wednesday, Phil Robinson III and I gave our opinions on the quarterback shakeup (with some added fun), where we each concluded Garoppolo simply makes more sense for the Silver and Black, currently, than Carr does.

Well… it seems both Phil and I have struck a nerve with Raider Nation, from Bitmojis to Tweety Bird to Hank Hill. Everyone had something to say in response to the claim we made on Wednesday, being that the new signal caller in Sin City is an upgrade over the now-former one who signed with New Orleans this offseason. Who knew Garoppolo and Derek Carr could cause such a stir?

I can admit the piece in question had a heavy dose of subjectivity, as most opinions do, but I did not write it without doing proper research. If numbers are what you want — numbers are what you will get. Did I overdo it by using the words “considerable upgrade”? I’ll stand corrected if I have to, but perhaps the numbers below can change your mind; or at least better explain my stance.

A Raiders Tale Of The Tape: Jimmy Garoppolo v. Derek Carr

Derek Carr arrived to the Raiders organization as a slept-on second-round pick before developing into a solidified starter in the league. As we know, the marriage between the franchise and its star player met an unceremonious end this offseason.

For those believing I dislike Carr, I assure you that is not the case. If you need proof, here is an article earlier in the week where I called the nine-year veteran one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC!

Now with the Saints, it is feasible that Carr leads the team to a division title and finds his way into the playoffs for a third time in total (he missed the 2016 postseason due to injury). Given the talent around the team’s new starter — and how much better he is than Andy Dalton — it is an easy path to see.

Filling the vacated QB1 role in Vegas is veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo. He began his career as a day-two pick also, but unlike Carr, Jimmy G was taken as the primary backup to Tom Brady. He was even considered a potential successor to the Hall of Famer at one point. Alas, Brady kept being Brady, leading the Patriots to trade Garoppolo to San Francisco.

From Brady’s Backup To San Fran’s QB1

In San Francisco, the Eastern Illinois product battled through injuries frequently, but the Niners were difficult to beat with his steady hand guiding the way. Jimmy Garoppolo helped propel the franchise to a Super Bowl berth in 2019, holding a 10-point lead over the Chiefs in the fourth quarter. Then, Patrick Mahomes happened.

Garoppolo has suffered through numerous injuries — something I will never knock a fan for being hesitant about.

Jimmy G’s detractors love pointing out the stacked Niners’ rosters he’s been aided by. While there is some merit to this, plenty of stats exist which take into account the players around the quarterback.

This brings me to my objective for the day: Proving that Jimmy Garoppolo is better for the Raiders than Derek Carr. Read that again. For. The. Raiders. Let’s start with some “traditional” counting statistics before diving deeper into the analytics!

*Note: A QB must have played at least ten games to qualify for rankings*

Garoppolo’s Completion Percentage Is Not Just Great — It Is Legendary

Completion %
Jimmy Garoppolo – 67.1% (5th in NFL)
Derek Carr – 60.8% (26th in NFL)

Garoppolo – 67.6%
Carr – 64.6%

Garoppolo checks in with the third-highest completion percentage in NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts). While defenses can force him into some ugly misses, Jimmy G is deathly accurate more times than not. Carr is a more efficient passer than he exhibited in 2022, but his career completion rate still falls three whole numbers short.

Adjusted Completion %
Garoppolo – 75.3%
Carr – 70.8%

Garoppolo – 76.4%
Carr – 75.2%

Adjusted completion percentage takes things further by removing drops, spikes, throwaways, and other inconsequential plays. Doing so provides a cleaner look at plays where the quarterback has full control over what happens. Carr’s numbers jump drastically, but not enough to put him ahead of Garoppolo.

Verdict: Garoppolo, By A Landslide

Garoppolo Led Yardage Category In 2022, But Context Is Important

Yardage is not the best way to judge these debates, but here is what the comparison looks like for those into this type of thing. Jimmy Garoppolo’s numbers are better on paper, but using context, this category should probably go down as a wash. Let me explain.

Passing yards per game as a starter
Jimmy Garoppolo – 243.6 yards
Derek Carr – 234.8 yards

Garoppolo – 247.4 yards
Carr – 248 yards

Yards per attempt
Jimmy Garoppolo – 7.9 yards
Derek Carr – 7.0 yards

Garoppolo – 8.3 yards
Carr – 7.1 yards

Garoppolo averaged nearly ten more yards per game in 2022 on 2.7 fewer attempts. Zooming out and using the scope of their entire careers, the yardage averages per game are nearly identical. Furthermore, Jimmy G ranked fourth-highest among qualified QBs in yards per attempt in 2022. Carr, on the other hand, checked in at 17.

To be fair to Derek Carr: Garoppolo’s numbers are boosted by his playmakers. I shudder to blame a guy for using his weapons effectively, but it is important to mention when comparing “yards per attempt” stats head-to-head. Jimmy Garoppolo produces bigger numbers in this department, but it is a mostly-moot point when factoring in the weapons at his disposal in comparison to what the Raiders have [mostly] had around Carr.

Oh, and Kyle Shanahan.

Garoppolo – 1,612 YAC on 206 completions in 2022
Carr – 1,600 YAC on 305 completions in 2022

Verdict: Wash

Should Touchdowns And Interceptions Carry Weight In A QB Debate?

Touchdowns are another archaic way to judge a quarterback, but this article will leave no stone unturned. Here are some numbers for you.

Carr had 33% more (24) than Garoppolo (16) in 33% more full games. We will call this one even.

Garoppolo – 87 in 1,726 attempts (5.0 TD%)
Carr – 217 in 4,958 attempts (4.4% TD%)

Career-wise, Jimmy G takes the nod in terms of touchdown percentage, but Carr has substantially more volume to fall back on. This section is technically in Garoppolo’s favor, but given how many more games Carr has played, I will be lenient and call it a wash — the numbers are close enough, anyway.

Verdict: Wash

Garoppolo – 4 (328 dropbacks)
Carr – 14 (544 dropbacks)

Garoppolo – 42 (1,889 dropbacks)
Carr – 99 (5,357 dropbacks)

Derek Carr suffered the most turnover-prone campaign in his lone season under Josh McDaniels. In his first eight years, the 32-year-old signal caller exhibited superb ball security. However, while adjusting to the new system, turnovers popped up often in 2022. This further cements that Carr was not a fit with McDaniels.

Garoppolo – 1.3%
Carr – 2.8%

Garoppolo – 2.4%
Carr – 2.0%

The interception percentage numbers match what the raw stats say: Garoppolo took care of the football in 2022 at a career-high rate. Carr saw the worst stint of his tenure with the Silver and Black. I have to give the win to Jimmy G based on 2022 numbers. This section continues showing why Jimmy Garoppolo is an upgrade for the Raiders. Derek Carr’s career-worst year coming under McDaniels is no coincidence; the duo never meshed.

Verdict: Garoppolo, But It Is Close

PFF Enters The Discussion To Help Settle This Raiders Debate

Now, we turn our attention to advanced analytics as I introduce everyone’s favorite stat-counting site, Pro Football Focus. Fair warning folks – you are about to see a lot of numbers swing in Garoppolo’s favor.

Big-Time Throw %
Garoppolo – 4.0%
Carr – 4.0%

Garoppolo – 2.9%
Carr – 4.5%

First up, big-time throw percentage highlights the plays where a quarterback hits their target downfield with “ideal” ball placement. It is somewhat subjective, but the people at PFF do great work and have a brilliant track record of recording stats. Even if you don’t agree with the grading system, their collection ability is unmatched.

At 4.0%, Garoppolo and Carr had identical big-time throw percentages in 2022. Jimmy G falls behind throughout their careers, giving Carr a slight edge overall. But some of the best throws on Garoppolo’s NFL tape came this past season.

Turnover-Worthy Play %
Garoppolo – 2.6%
Carr – 3.3%

Garoppolo – 3.3%
Carr – 3.3%

Going further, Garoppolo ranked ten spots ahead of Carr in turnover-worthy play percentage in 2022. Their career numbers mirror each other, but Jimmy G put the ball in harm’s way less frequently in his most recent campaign. That has to count for something. Combining big-time throws with turnover-worthy plays gives us one more wash.

Verdict: Wash

Garoppolo Flexed A Much Quicker Release In 2022 Than The Now-Former Raiders QB

Time-to-Throw (Seconds)
Garoppolo – 2.53 seconds
Carr – 2.84 seconds

Garoppolo – 2.58 seconds
Carr – 2.62 seconds

Being decisive on throws and getting the ball out with proper timing are staples of the McDaniels offense. Tom Brady was notorious for getting the ball out fast and allowing his teammates to do the work.

See, even the best player of all time needed help to be so successful — funny how that works.

Further supporting this claim, Derek Carr ranked dead last in the NFL in rhythm throwing. The upgrade with Garoppolo is far less about talent and much more about fit and style – and no, I am not talking about GQ and haircuts.

Don’t believe me? Take PFF’s Dalton Wasserman’s word for it:

“Carr struggled with the offense’s rhythm and timing, as displayed by his 71.8 passing grade when in rhythm in 2022 — the worst in the NFL among 24 QBs with at least 200 such dropbacks.“

Jimmy G ranked ninth in the NFL in completion percentage vs. zone coverage, while Carr finished 30th. In a league that sees more zone played with each passing year, this trait is invaluable; especially for an offensive system predicated on timing routes.

Garoppolo showcases the same ability by trusting his reads and the talent around him. Shanahan’s play calling is a factor, but with Jimmy G, McDaniels will be able to implement his system the way it was intended. Garoppolo’s willingness to take what the defense gives him is a key reason he is a considerable upgrade for the scheme the Raiders want to run.

Verdict: Garoppolo

Play Action Numbers Are Neck And Neck

Completion % On Play-Action
Garoppolo – 68.2%
Carr – 67.3%

McDaniels uses a fair amount of play action in his offense, calling it on 22 percent of all dropbacks. Carr, to his credit, always handled play-action reps well as a Raider. In fact, it is why I see the Saints being successful in 2023. But once again, Garoppolo is right there with him.

I’m tempted to give Jimmy G the win in this section because he is nearly a full number ahead in percentage, but the tape shows that these two are interchangeable in this area. So in the spirit of being fair, let’s throw this under the wash category.

Verdict: Wash

Carr Takes The Win On Short Passes, But Everything Else Leans Garoppolo

Completion % From 0-9 Yards
Garoppolo – 76% (80.1 ADJ%)
Carr – 78.1% (83 ADJ%)

PFF Short Pass Grade (0-9)
Garoppolo – 63.1
Carr – 70.7

Using the adjusted completion percentage we spoke of earlier, the numbers are not too far apart as both quarterbacks own an impressive 80-percent or better mark from 0-9 yards. Garoppolo has typically completed more passes in this range over the course of his career, but Carr must take the victory based on last year’s performance. PFF agrees.

Verdict: Carr

Intermediate Throws Are Where Garoppolo Separates Himself

Completion % From 10-19 Yards
Garoppolo – 62.7% (66.1 ADJ%)
Carr – 52% (52.9 ADJ%)

PFF Medium Pass Grade (10-19)
Garoppolo – 82.0
Carr – 73.0

The intermediate portion of the passing game is where the Raiders new quarterback shines. He boasts a traditional completion percentage nearly ten whole numbers higher than Carr’s adjusted percent — a Grand Canyon-sized gap. Carr is a quality player in many areas, but this is not one of them.

Verdict: Garoppolo, By A Landslide

Even The Deep Pass Goes Garoppolo’s Way…

Completion % From 20+ Yards
Garoppolo – 28.6% (39.3 ADJ%)
Carr – 33.8% (39.4 ADJ%)

PFF Deep Pass Grade
Garoppolo – 89.6
Carr – 72.0

While it looks like Carr has the edge in completion percentage, the adjusted rate is the number to judge by. It could not be much closer, with Carr only one-tenth of a number ahead. However, the PFF grade shows why watching tape means more than strictly reading box scores.

Garoppolo recorded the 14th-best deep ball grade in 2022, poopoo-ing on the narrative that says he cannot throw passes downfield. On the other side of the coin, Carr, who is often lauded for his big plays, graded out as the 25th quarterback in the NFL in this category.

Before I did the research, I assumed Carr was significantly better as a passer downfield. Maybe you did too. But after going back and watching while using these grades for context, it is clear that Jimmy G can more than hold his own. Don’t worry Davante Adams, you will see the rock plenty in Vegas.

Verdict: Garoppolo

If Depth Of Completions Isn’t Enough, What About More Specific Locations?

Completion % Outside The Numbers
Garoppolo – 66.7%
Carr – 64.3%

When targeting pass catchers outside the numbers, Garoppolo is more accurate — not only in 2022, but also for his career. He sits 2.4 percent ahead of Carr, all backed up by their play onscreen. Neither guy is the best in the world at attacking the outside hashes, but Jimmy G takes the win here.

Verdict: Garoppolo

Completion % Over The Middle
Garoppolo – 74.7%
Carr – 69.7%

The middle of the field is more of the same, as the shorter Garoppolo somehow has substantially better vision seeing over his gargantuan offensive linemen. Five whole numbers separate him from Carr in this category. For the Raiders, the ability to attack the middle of the field is essential. Much like his time with the Niners, Jimmy G continues racking up the wins.

Verdict: Garoppolo

Finally, The New-Raiders Signal Caller Reigns Supreme Completing Passes Under Pressure

Completion % Under Pressure
Garoppolo – 57.1%
Carr – 50.9%

Garoppolo, to the surprise of many, actually completes passes at a relatively-high rate when pressured. Now, he gets himself in trouble by taking more sacks than needed — something Carr is pretty good at avoiding. However, the goal is to complete passes and move the football, and Garoppolo does that at a 6.2-percent higher clip.

Completion % When Blitzed
Garoppolo – 66.4% (75.5 ADJ%)
Carr – 55% (68.2 ADJ%)

Garoppolo is adept at recognizing a blitz pre-snap and taking advantage of it. He almost always identifies where the pressure is coming from and adjusts his protection to avoid damage. Few in the league are as smart as Jimmy G — something he never gets enough credit for.

I’ll give it to Carr, though. His teammates have let him down several times during a blitz. Whether it be the offensive line or pass catchers, it is clear to see from the 13% differential between completion percentage and adjusted completion percentage that things tend to go wrong when pressure comes. Still, Garoppolo stands head-and-shoulders above regardless.

Verdict: Garoppolo

Tallying The Results

•Completion Percentage: Garoppolo
•ADJ Completion Percentage: Garoppolo
•Passing Yards: Wash
•Yards Per Attempt: Wash
•Touchdowns: Wash
•Interceptions: Garoppolo
•Big-Time Throws: Wash
•Turnover-Worthy Plays: Wash
•Release Time: Garoppolo
•Play-Action Snaps: Wash
•Short Pass Percentage: Carr
•Short Pass Grade: Carr
•Intermediate Pass Percentage: Garoppolo
•Intermediate Pass Grade: Garoppolo
•Deep Pass Percentage: Wash
•Deep Pass Grade: Garoppolo
•Outside The Numbers Percentage: Garoppolo
•Middle Of The Field Percentage: Garoppolo
•Under Pressure: Garoppolo
•When Blitzed: Garoppolo

For those keeping track at home:
Garoppolo – 11
Wash – 7
Carr – 2

This all goes without even factoring in more subjective topics, such as football IQ, personality, or Carr’s obscenely bad numbers in the red zone. And one last parting gift for the “Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t move the needle for the Raiders” crowd:
•Kyle Shanahan’s regular season record with Jimmy G at QB: 38-17
•Kyle Shanahan’s regular season record with any QB not named Jimmy G: 14-29

Final Word For Raiders Fans

Again, I can see how this reads as me picking on Carr. That is not the case. I genuinely think he can win football games in New Orleans and maybe even direct them to a playoff appearance. Regardless of what he accomplishes with the Saints, the point remains: Jimmy Garoppolo is the better fit for McDaniels and this incarnation of the Raiders.

I will mention that Carr has a substantially better injury history. Garoppolo only has one full slate under his belt as a primary starter; that is unacceptable. If this is the part you are hung up on, then I have bad news for you: I cannot change your mind. Nor would I try to.

I believe Garoppolo can succeed in Vegas and fits the offense perfectly. But it is a severe risk to rely on him as the starter — no doubt. As of this point, I don’t expect Vegas to be a playoff team. But that goes deeper than the quarterback position.

Maybe Jimmy G can stay upright for the Raiders in 2023. Or maybe he can’t. In terms of ability, he has the chops to string together victories with the stacked assortment of weapons in Sin City. The beauty of football? We will find out an answer soon enough. Until then, I stand tall in my claim.

*Top Photo: Tony Avelar/Associated Press

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