Time to take Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense seriously
In the broadcast of the game against the Jets this week, Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr was referred to as “David’s younger brother” in what you have to think will become one of the final times in his life that will happen.
While David was pummeled into submission, mediocrity, and a life as a journeyman backup quarterback by the inept pass-protection of a fledgling franchise, Derek is going from strength to strength as the Raiders build around him.
In his rookie season, we never really saw the play to match his relatively good-looking statistics. While Teddy Bridgewater finished the season strong, Carr finished much the same as he started it—grading negatively. He opened this season with back-to-back negative grades, but has since strung together five positive performances, including two excellent outings.
Against the much-lauded Jets’ defense this week, he passed for 333 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 130.9. Four of his 13 incompletions were dropped, and if you remove passes thrown away, etc., he had a passer rating of 144.9 on true “aimed passes.”
What we are seeing is Carr emerge as a real quarterback and make the kind of developmental leap we never saw over his rookie season.
It certainly helps that the Raiders have begun to construct something pretty exciting around him. Michael Crabtree was brought over in the off-season, and is looking something like the player he used to be in San Francisco, pre-injury. Amari Cooper may have been the best player—period—in the draft this year, and already looks like a veteran Pro-Bowl receiver. Cooper has 565 receiving yards so far, 146 more than the next best rookie, and also leads the class in touchdowns, missed tackles forced, yards after the catch, receptions, and targets.
Matched up against Revis this week, Cooper still caught five-of-eight targets for 46 yards, and saw one of those incompletions overthrown when he had Revis beaten for what could—and should—have been a big gain on the play. Cooper was dropped off on Revis Island seven games into his rookie season, and by halftime, had constructed a small ferry port and an airport terminal.
Oakland’s offensive line has been battling with the Dallas Cowboys star-studded lineup for the best pass-blocking unit in the league. Only Dallas has allowed fewer total pressures than Oakland, and only the Cowboys have a better pass-blocking efficiency thus far this season.
In all, the Raiders have believed in Carr from the outset, and are now giving him the tools to succeed. After his slow start, the second-year signal caller has now climbed to seventh overall in the PFF quarterback rankings, one spot ahead of Matt Ryan.
Earlier in the year, I wrote that it may be time to pump the brakes on the Carr hype after those two shaky performances to start the year; for now, it’s time to get that hype-wagon onto the open road.
He may have kept us waiting as a rookie, but right now, things are only looking up for Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders.