Pump the brakes on the Derek Carr bandwagon

Sam Monson explains why the breakout hype surrounding the Raiders' second-year QB is premature.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Pump the brakes on the Derek Carr bandwagon


It might be time to pump the brakes on the Derek Carr bandwagon. Last season he put up some pretty impressive numbers as the Raiders’ rookie starter, throwing 21 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, but his per-play performance never matched those statistics, and he was helped out by an offense centered around conservative passing (albeit one with a very poor supporting cast, a fact that has been frequently cited by those pumping up Carr’s rookie performance).

Only Blake Bortles graded worse over the 2014 season than Carr, and Carr didn’t show the kind of progress that fellow rookie Teddy Bridgewater did over the season (Bridgewater finished 15th among QBs in our grades).

Against Arizona on Sunday night, Carr earned a -2.8 grade thanks to completing just 18 of his 34 attempts (52.9 percent) for 213 yards and no TDs.

Carr had a passer rating under pressure of just 9.8 in the game, which makes the loss of OT Menelik Watson to a torn Achilles potentially even more impactful. Watson has had his struggles as a pro, but was slated to start at right tackle this year and was having a solid preseason, allowing just one pressure in his 52 snaps before injury.

In 2014 Carr threw as many interceptions (6) under pressure as he did when kept clean, despite 205 fewer snaps, and his numbers tumbled when he was hurried. He completed just 42.6 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 57.0 when pressured, so that is likely to be a major factor in his play this year.

The Raiders may be moving in the right direction (2015 first-round pick WR Amari Cooper looks like another great selection, after the success of 2014 first-rounder LB Khalil Mack), but there is still a long way to go for the team and its young quarterback before they deserve a ride on the hype train.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Marcus Johnson

    Carr is more eli manning than peyton manning Ive accepted that as a raiders fan…but I think you can win with him

    • Four Touchdowns

      Peyton wasn’t the Peyton Manning we think of in his rookie season, setting a rookie record for INTs. I think you’ve got to give Carr more time to develop but also agree with the article’s premise that there’s more to prove before folks start hyping Carr as the future of the position for Oakland.

      • T.pinner

        As a long time Raider since 1972 .
        I would love to say that he’s the next coming cool Kenny the snake Stabler or awkward looking but always got it done Jim Plunkett. even savvy smat and witty Rich Gannon but right now he’s showing me he doesn’t have a comfortable feel for the offensive flow missing often on open receivers in the red zone yesterday everthing scripte forced without without his own style if the play does not go exactly the way of drawing up then there’s trouble.
        I know it’s preseason but the what’s up with the Ultra conservative play calling on several times 3rd and long they’ve been 5 yard hitch play calls. if there’s ever a time to let a man work some stuff out it would seem that would be the time to let him throw downfield. I hope I’m wrong but right now, he’s not showing me that he has the command or confidence to get it done.

        Here’s to a great 2015 Oakland Raider season

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        • fred

          Stabler didn’t even play until hie 3rd season with Raiders,calm down and let Carr grow into his job its only his second season

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    • fred

      Yes Eli has won twice as many Super Bowls than Peyton

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    Derek Carr is the best example of a tradeoff in football.

    Sure, great sack rate and interception percentage, but they come with very conservative play and abysmal YPA. He is basically Joe Harrington 2.0. Bottles, the 2nd worst on that stat had a YPA 0.6 higher than Carr’s.

    But good looking raw numbers + a franchise starving even for mediocre QB play = bandwagon. Easy to say he was better than Teddy ignoring the fact that he started four more games and threw 200 more passes, but still had only 200 more yards than Bridgewater. TD numbers are very misleading too, probably only Jay Cutler padded more his stats during garbage time than Carr. So, with context his numbers are also far from impressive.

    The supporting cast excuse is also a very bad one, he is not the first rookie QB to have one. Since the Raiders current dark period began, only the 2006 and 2009 Raiders had a worst scoring offense than the 2014 team. Given the rise of scoring and the fact that teams played prevent defense against them nearly every fourth quarter, yikes.

    • Marcus Johnson

      supporting cast excuse is very vaild since the number 1 rec is now the number 4 on the giants( or maybe even cut) and the other ones aren’t starting this year or are the running backs from last year..Carr doenst have that many garbage time tds either I dont get where that came from since he threw like 4 in garbage time.

      • fred

        and the hardest schedule the league has ever seen(20,000 more miles traveled than the next closest team)

    • Tito Puente

      As a Raider fan, i’m not super optimistic about Carr, but we still don’t know what we have yet, because Carr has never played with NFL players yet. (Although his interception last night may have been the worst throw/decision since the forward pass was invented).

      The supporting cast is absolutely relevant, especially when it doesn’t even allow you to get into a play. Put Aaron Rodgers on a junior college team in the SEC, and no one would’ve ever heard of him, lots of rookie QBs have bad supporting casts, but few had worse than Carr did in our offense last season.

      I’ll take Teddy over Carr right now, and Bortles after watching carve up the Lions on Saturday — but I’d also take any of Teddy’s top four WR’s from last season over our best WR from last season (and Teddy’s weren’t amazing).

      How can you truly assess a QB playing against NFL defense when these are their skill players? (Who were playing behind a bad offensive line, one that saw three of its five starters replaced this offseason).

      Top WR: James Jones, 31, since cut. (It took him till August to get a one-year non-guaranteed deal at the minimum, he may still be cut).

      Top RB: Darren McFadden. Do i really need to say anything? The only reason we kept him is because we drafted him, he signed a cap-friendly deal and said he was determined to prove his critics wrong.

      D-Mac ran for 3.4 ypc, and just two TD’s, and he only had one run over 20 yards ALL SEASON. (Jones Drew ran for 2.2 ypc and zero tds).

      If it weren’t for Latavius gaining an amazing 5.2 ypc in his 82 carries behind our bad O-Line the Raiders could’ve broken YPC futility records.

      While Teddy not only had a better offensive line, receivers (and defense), he was able to hand it off and make progress.. The Vikings ran for over 1,800 yards and 12 tds last season — the Raiders ran for just 1,240 and 4 tds.

      VIking running backs had 11 runs over 20 yards last season, the Raiders had just five (and four of those came from Latavius in his 82 carries, all other Raider RBs combined for ONE run over 20 yards).

    • Matt

      I don’t want to sound like I am making excuses for Carr but let’s be honest he had Dennis Allen as his head coach and Greg Olsen as his OC. Bridgewater has Zimmer (albeit also a defensive minded HC), and Norv Turner. Olsen is no where near Tuner’s level as far as experience and football IQ go. But this year Carr has all the tools around him and in my mind a pretty good staff backing him up and leading him into the right direction. Let’s not make quick judgments off one preseason game, PFF is very high on Bridgewater and tends to jab a lot of shots at Carr. Let the season play out and we will see how it goes.

      • andy

        Not only PFF, NumberFire, FivethirtyEight, Football Perspective, Football Outsiders, ESPN’s QBR, Cold Hard Football. Should I continue?

    • fred

      I think you are ignoring some facts also like Teddy had more interceptions with 220 less throws,give it a rest

      • The Mysteries of Bob

        Because he was unlucky (I remember at least three tipped picks) and played on an offense that wasn’t as conservative as Oakland’s.

        • Izach

          That’s not true, TB good 5weeks at end of season were because the team stopped letting him be agressive and he started checking down and throwing shorter passes so TB only looked as good due to more conservative play calling mixed with better players

    • Johnny Cash Guzman

      Well here’s the thing with what you said about Carr and the offense. You point to a conservative offense as helping him hutnyou blame him for a low YPA. It was really the conservative offense that to a terrible YPA. Obviously Carr is not blameless but let me explain. I know I’m exaggerating but it seemed like 75% of the time the pass plays were nothing but 6 yard curl routes, out routes and comeback routes. The OC often called these short yardage boringly predictable pass plays so I was not surprised that Carrs YPA was so bad.

      And seriously he had absolutely no help from the skill players. You’re being absolutely ridiculous to say it’s a bad excuse. You’re saying other rookie QBs had them too. Yes they have and they have struggled too. Let’s look at his supporting cast. Let’s start with the run game because this gets grossly overlooked. McFadden averages 3.4 YPC and MJD averaged 2.2 YPC. They were so awful that in the 1st game vs the Jets they combined for a total of 26 yards. It would be bad enough if they each got 26 yards but they combined for 26 yards. That’s pathetic. It was like that pretty much the whole season. It wasn’t until week 5 against SD where they actually had a decent run game and Carr threw for 4TDs and we lost by a field goal. Then never happpend again until week 11T when they finally started using Murray. Murray got start in 3 games and we won all 3 of those games because we had a rushing attack and those were Carrs best games. Just having that one player who could help move the chains really helped Carr and the offense. Before Murray the run game was so bad it hasnt been that bad since 1960 when the Raiders were first created. Even after getting some help from Murray we still finished 32nd in rushing. I don’t suppose you’ll blame the rushing attack on Carr would you? Did you know that MJD didn’t crack 100 yards the entire season? I don’t mean he didn’t crack 100 yards in a game I mean his combined rushing yards for the season was under 100 yards. He was so pathteic he left a game with negative rushing yards and in other he averaged around 1 YPC. Our coaching staff was so incompetent it took them 10 weeks of ineptitude to finally bench him. And real quick our #1 receiver James Jones had 73 catches for a measley 666 yards. His 9.1 yards per catch was easily the lowest of all starting receivers. Jones is old, slow, and past his prime not that his prime was any good. He was a career #3 receiver with Aaron Rogers in GB and he never cracked 800 receiving yards. Mix that with the fact that you have a receiver who can’t create seperation, can’t create yards after the catch, and can’t break tackles, who was running nothing but short curl routes and you get the results that the Raider offense had. Oh and did I mention absolutely no run game? I think I did.

      Anyways sorry for the long post. By the way I’m not completely sold on Carr. This article talks about the Carr bandwagon. What it has to do with is NFL scouts, coaches, etc, believe that Carr has a high ceiling. PFF and other outlets are just looking at his rookie season and kind of saying this is who he is and all he’ll ever be. The coaches and scouts are looking at the potential of what they believe he can develop into. I sort of view Carr as an Andy Dalton type of QB. I think he’ll need a good team around him, he’ll have ups and downs but will do just enough to help the team win some games and maybe get to the playoffs once in a while. When you look at the stats Carrs rookie season looks alot like Ryan Tannehill’s. Basically idential passer rating, yardage, and similar TD/INT ratio. It took Tannehill a few years to really grow and II think it will more than likely take Carr a few years to live up to the hype if he does at all.

  • codered5

    As a raider fan I can’t deny what’s being said in this post but what hype train is there. One poll of NFL execs said he was better than Bridgewater and now he has been ovee hyped. I see way more of these “beware of Derek Carr, the numbers that tell the real story” articles then I do see of the” look out for up and coming Derek carr”. These type articles are getting to the point that they’re actually misleading because they’re number stript of context

    • codered5

      Point me towards this alleged hype train someone (besides the ESPN Sando poll). I be happy to reign them in.

  • trogPOUNDA

    soooo 5 quarters of preseason football into year 2 and OMG HES A BUST I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!

    dumb
    shut up

  • ToreBear

    Carr had no run game last year IIRC, yet still put up respectable numbers. As for when he is under pressure, perhaps his checkdown options have to be better? Or is he in a third and long situation?

    I don’t think PFF grades take any of this into account?

    • codered5

      They don’t. They killed Carson Palmer despite the pressure he was under and they acknowledged Mack and Edwards pressure him so it not that they believe he was in an ideal situation. Palmer still got a -4 grade while Mack and MEJ got a +11 and + 3 respectively. They also have a habit of pointing out that qb’s play poorly under pressure with is absurd. They are supposed to have negative grades under pressure which is different then playin poorly against the blitz. Against the blitz you can slide protection or get the ball to a hot route against pressure that means the rush got to the qb in which case that SHOULD negatively effect the qb. Unfortunately pff does not take that into consideration when spewing their context-deficient stats.

  • Jeff

    Carr last year, faced toughest schedule of defenses, had record breaking my bad run game and a bunch crap at receiver. Can’t really imagine a tougher set of circumstances for a rookie qb, I think he handled it pretty well considering.