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NFL Draft

Arians: Why Derek Carr Has Been Very Impressive So Far

  • The Draft Network
  • September 24, 2020
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By Jake Arians

Derek Carr is leading the charge for the 2-0 Las Vegas Raiders and he has looked phenomenal through the first two weeks of the NFL season. I can easily say he has outplayed NFL stars like Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Phillip Rivers, Baker Mayfield, Matt Stafford, and Deshaun Watson so far. I will get into the statistics in a moment, but let me tell you what I’ve seen from him first. 

Carr looks like a different player—a completely confident quarterback with an edge to him I’ve never seen before. He has been exceptionally accurate. The ball placement has been spot on, allowing his receivers to run after the catch and maximize each play. For the most part it’s in the short-passing game, so accuracy is absolutely vital, and he has been money. Not only the accuracy, but his arm looks alive and has a ton of juice. He has always thrown a nice ball, but I don’t remember seeing him throw like this—his use of multiple arm angles while throwing on the move or from the pocket looks elite. 

In his third year now with Jon Gruden, he seems to have a mastery of what this offense wants to do. It’s a run-first offense behind a massive offensive line with Josh Jacobs at running back, but he is the man making it work. They use a lot of play-action and bootlegs that fit his skill set very well, and he has been brilliant at all of it. His leadership has also been on full display. This is primarily a young offense and you could tell on Monday night who was in charge and who was in full control of what they wanted to do. With a second-year running back and two rookie starting receivers, you would think it would be tough to have everyone be on the same page. However, Carr seems to be in total control and couldn’t look more comfortable with these young teammates. 

However, his decision-making could be what he is doing best so far this young season. He has a completion percentage of 73.5% with a quarterback rating of 115 and zero interceptions (a problem for him in the past), but it’s third down where he has really excelled. Carr is 15-of-18 (85.3%) on third down with 9.2 yds per attempt and two touchdowns. That is a quarterback rating of 141.9 on third down—damn near perfect and beyond impressive. 

It was an interesting offseason for Carr. From all the Tom Brady rumors to them actually signing Marcus Mariota for really high-end backup money as competition, it seemed his job status was anything but secure. He seemed to take in all in stride, but also seemed to develop a healthy chip on his shoulder from it—at one point saying he is “tired of being disrespected.” You could see a different intensity in him. I love seeing the edge he developed and I believe it has a lot to do with his success so far. 

Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, Carr was 22-of-30 for 239 yds and a touchdown, with a quarterback rating of 107.5. This doesn’t sound like anything to write home about, but that is where the stats don’t tell the whole story. Jacobs had a phenomenal day but Carr really drove the offense needed to win a shootout 34-30. It was game two against the Saints on Monday Night Football where Carr really shined. He was 28-of-38 for 284 yds and three touchdowns with a rating of 120.9. Again, it wasn’t the numbers that told the whole story, it was how impressive he looked doing it. 

The Raiders have had some offensive line injuries, but with Jacobs’ ability to run, his chemistry with tight end Darren Waller, and the quick growth of the talented rookie receivers, poor health is the only that could slow them down. Carr and this Raiders offense could be on their way to a splendid and noteworthy season.

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