Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr the target of misplaced disrespect

2020 NFL power rankings. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
2020 NFL power rankings. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback being the focal point of trade rumors throughout the offseason, it’s about time the Derek Carr slander stopped.

Since coming into the NFL, it seems like there’s been a quick trigger to try and pull Derek Carr from his starting job with the Las Vegas Raiders. Part of this may be due to the perception of his brother’s (David Carr) career as quarterback of the Houston Texans.

The other part seems to be the lack of success from the Raiders in recent years, specifically since the arrival of Jon Gruden. Regardless of what excuses are used to belittle Carr, you’ll find that he isn’t the problem on the Raiders — and the numbers show as much.

Derek Carr had an elite year in 2020. Per PFF (subscription required), Carr finished in the top 10 in passing grade, adjusted completion percentage and Big-Time throw percentage, putting him among elite company. The 2019 season saw nearly the same stats as finished second in the NFL in adjusted completion percentage, seventh in overall passing grade and had the fifth-fewest turnover-worthy plays.

The numbers start to show that Carr is a lot better than he is perceived by fans. But this only starts to scratch the surface as to the true story of how good Carr is compared to his peers.

Carr’s completion percentage above expectation, per Next Gen Stats, was good for ninth in the NFL in 2020. He was seventh in 2019 and has been in the top 15 in four out of the last five years. He was 16th in the lone season he missed that mark.

Despite getting criticized as being a mediocre deep-ball passer, Carr had the third-best adjusted completion percentage among all quarterbacks with at least 10 deep passing attempts. Some have said he doesn’t throw deep often enough but he’s ranked in the middle of the pack of quarterbacks. He also attempted a higher percentage of these throws than Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray, who receive praise in this department.

The other misconception about Derek Carr is that he isn’t aggressive enough. This too is untrue. Carr ranks 14th in Next Gen Stats’ aggressiveness percentage, which measures all of the throws in tight coverage; where a defender is within one yard from the receiver. The only other “above average” quarterbacks in 2020 who ranked ahead of Carr were Herbert, Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford.

Derek Carr belongs among the better NFL quarterbacks and the Las Vegas Raiders should recognize that.

In essence, Carr is a top-10 quarterback no matter how you try to slice the numbers. And he’s been able to do this while being very protective of the football throughout his career.

That still doesn’t stop his detractors from claiming he can’t lead the team to victory despite having the ninth-most game-winning drives among active quarterbacks.

That’s where eyes should turn to the defense; this is where a lot of the blame for the Raiders’ lack of success should lie. Since 2016, Vegas is one of three franchises that hasn’t produced a top-15 unit. Only the Lions have finished in the bottom five of the league more than the Raiders.

When looking at the total points the defense has given up, the numbers are even worse. The Raiders haven’t ranked above 20th in points allowed since Carr was drafted by the team. They’ve also been in the bottom half of the NFL in defensive Football Outsiders’ DVOA in the past two years.

No one can succeed with a defense as bad as the Las Vegas Raiders (and I’m not the only one with this opinion). Though I disagree with the opinion of Carr’s tentativeness, it is a large reason as to why he’s so careful with the ball. One mistake from Carr and the defense more than likely will give up points on the other end.

Next. 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles target Smith, Bears get Mac. dark

NFL quarterbacks take the most scrutiny when a team isn’t performing well. Most of the time, this is deserved. In this instance, I think the numbers show that the Las Vegas Raiders’ problem is much greater than the quarterback of the team.

Derek Carr needs to start being recognized as a top quarterback in the NFL. When all the numbers agree with this sentiment, it’s about time the disrespect stops.