Derek Carr’s Pinky Finger Was Actually Broken

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks on during the second half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Raiders won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks on during the second half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Raiders won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

It turns out that not only was the pinky of Derek Carr dislocated, but it was actually broken.

So the pinky finger of Derek Carr was actually broken. That helps to explain a lot regarding his performance and inability to take snaps from center. Reported consistently as a dislocation, many knew it was more serious than let on based on Carr’s play on the field.

The QB, who is currently dealing with a broken fibula as well, admitted in a radio interview on 95.7 The Game that his pinky was, in fact, broken in Week 12 against the Carolina Panthers.

"“There was a little fracture in it, there was,” Carr said to radio legend Greg Papa. “There was a whole bunch going on what that thing. But I can bend it now. It’s getting there.”"

Astoundingly, Carr missed only one series after breaking the finger against Carolina in Week 12. Not only that, he didn’t miss any practices or games after injuring the finger. But clearly, it had an effect.

Derek Carr was unable to take snaps from center for the duration of the time his finger injury lingered. That was right up until he broke his fibula against the Colts in the 4th quarter of week 16.

The running game actually flourished while Carr took snaps from the pistol and shotgun exclusively, which is somewhat surprising. In the 11 games (including Carolina) before the injury the Raiders had rushed for 112 yards per game on 4.2 yards per carry.

In the five games after the injury, the Raiders averaged 137 yards per game on 4.7 yards per carry.

This was good because the running game needed to prop up a suddenly questionable passing game with Carr’s injury. Despite his insistence that he was fine, Carr’s performance on the field showed otherwise.

Prior to injuring the pinky, Carr was putting up MVP numbers and consistently moving the offense at will. In the eleven games before the injury Carr was completing 66% of his passes (281 for 423), had 3115 yards (283.2 YPG), 22 TDs (2 per game) and only 5 INTs (0.45 per game). He also had an average passer rating of 99.2 in those games as the Raiders went 9-2 and surged to the top of the AFC West.

So what did Carr do in the next five games? Well, he’s a great player. So he didn’t fall off the Earth. But his numbers did dip significantly, and nowhere was the finger more obvious a problem than on a cold December night in Kansas City.

In the next four games after the injury, Carr completed only 55% of his passes. He threw for 822 yards (205.5 YPG, nearly 80 less than before the injury). He averaged 1.5 TDs per game (instead of 2), but he did only throw one pick.

Still, his yards per game dropped by nearly 80 per game. His completion percentage dipped 11 points. And his passer rating went from an average of 99.2 down to 87.5. More importantly, the Raiders are 3-2 since the injury, losing as many games since as they did before.

Granted, one of those losses came with Derek Carr completely out with a broken fibula. But that game against KC in Arrowhead showcased just how badly Carr’s finger was bothering him.

It was cold. Like chisel your dog off a lampost cold, which doesn’t help a broken digit. The Chiefs have a great defense. But Carr didn’t even look like a shadow of himself this evening.

He put up the worst numbers of his career. 17 of 41 (41.4%) completions. 117 yards (that’s 2.85 yards per attempt). Zero TDs. 49.1 quarterback rating. Wow.

It’s almost impossible to throw a football less than 2.85 yards forward. That’s only about 9 feet. Carr threw so many times but completed so few downfield that he threw for the lowest yards-per-attempt in any game where a QB had thrown more than 40 passes. Ever.

You have to credit the Chiefs defense to some degree. Nobody can argue though that Carr wasn’t his usual self that night. The numbers, including those in his first game against KC, support that.

It was clear that Carr’s health suffered and the finger a bigger problem than acknowledged. But no excuses, the NFL is a tough sport and the mentality is always next man up. That’s why the 53rd player on the roster is nearly as important as the 1st.

It is fair, though, based on these numbers, to ask what if Carr had stayed healthy all season? Like Matt Ryan. Tom Brady. Dak Prescott. Or the other NFL MVP candidates at the QB position.

He would likely have comparable numbers, the Raiders likely win one more game (or two even) and are divisional champions. The numbers bear this out. His drop-off in important categories like accuracy and yards per attempt show just how much the passing game suffered under the broken pinky of Carr.

While everyone was speculating Carr’s injury was more serious than he let on, he continued to tell people it was all good. Driving with Peter King in Kansas City before the Chiefs game he reiterated the finger was fine.

But it was broken. Those who know this team and watched Carr’s performance in the games after the finger aren’t surprised in the least to hear this is the case. You have to love the guy though.

It wasn’t until he suffered a far more serious broken bone that he admitted to the finger, lest he give opponents any kind of competitive advantage. Well played.

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