Time to take Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense seriously

With a big win over the Jets, here's why things are looking up for the Oakland Raiders' quarterback.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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.

| Senior Analyst

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

  • Mike S.

    I appreciate that you guys at PFF will admit when you were wrong (or not completely) accurate on someone earlier, and point out they are having a better year than you thought.

  • Ricardo Yvellez

    Nice to finally see the team coming together! Been a long time coming for true Raider Nation Fans!

    • crosseyedlemon

      Once the Raiders figure out how to use the “tuck rule” to their own advantage there will be no stopping them.

      • Brown Rice

        Lol, that never stops hurting.

  • Bobby23

    I get that you guys have this weird scoring that you do, but how on earth did he get a negative grade against the Ravens? Yeah he threw a bad pick, but other than that, he was pretty sharp

    • Alfredo Cota

      His arm was hit when he threw that pick!

    • Richard Ramsawh

      His arm was hit.

      • Bobby23

        Yeah I get it. I said it was a bad interception, meaning the timing of the game, I never said it was his fault

  • Mr McMurderer

    How did he score negatively in the Ravens game? He was hit when he threw the interception, and still had a passer rating over 100 even with the picks, and it’s safe to say that without him, we wouldn’t have won. PFF has some strange qb grading criteria.

    • Mr McMurderer

      Pick, singular.

    • crosseyedlemon

      The only PFF grades I haven’t seen complaints about are the ones for the team mascots.

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  • Paddy

    BIG Broncos fan here and Derek Carr gives me nightmares. He really doesn’t have that much talent around him. Now he has a good coach and they’re building. I’ll have to get out my old Raider-Hater gear again.

  • vonnegut

    That’s it. I’m yanking tannehill and adding carr. Not only is Carr a more consistent option, he’s a better locker room guy and leader.

  • rml

    What people aren’t getting is that the stats help but they are not everything. If your tackle give up two pressures and 1 QB hit, he will get a negative grade, but if he was going against JJ Watt we’d say he had a very good game. They are not mutually exclusive statements

  • Jaguars28

    It’s great to see that him and Bortles have taken a big step this year.

  • Mario A Arias

    It’s more then just arm talent for Carr it’s working hard studying to always get better and leadership in the locker room and field.Minimizing mistakes too and protecting the ball.

    • Tito Puente

      You forgot “getting donuts for Charles Woodson”…

      QB1 to special teamers, everybody has to get donuts for Chuck.


  • ajleight

    With Palmers bye, are you going Carr or Tyrod the toolman Taylor? I’ve gone back and forth between the two for weeks, assuming both would be healthy entering the matchup.