Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is playing some of his best football and is “on a mission” according to his head coach.
The Las Vegas Raiders are, to those who haven’t been paying attention, one of the surprises of the 2020 NFL season. Those of us who knew what the Raiders were building and the talent they have been accumulating are not surprised at their current success and not surprised that they are being carried by their franchise quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr had a difficult offseason where his status as the team’s number one QB was questioned and replacements were being lined up for him by the media from the start of the offseason all the way through training camp. First it was Tom Brady, then one of the young quarterbacks in the draft, and lastly it was Marcus Mariota who were all supposedly going to take Carr’s job.
Obviously none of that has come to pass and Carr has elevated his game to be among one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season. His raw totals in yards and touchdowns don’t jump off the page given how focused the Raiders have been on running the ball, but he is among the league leaders in several key categories that explain his success.
The first is how careful Carr has been with the ball through the air. He is currently second in the NFL in interception percentage at just 0.7 and has just two interceptions in 9 games, one of which came off the hands of a receiver.
Carr is also fifth in the NFL in completion percentage at 69.3 but is still taking shots downfield, as shown by his 8.4 air yards per attempt which is good enough for sixth in the NFL. The veteran QB is also fifth in the league in passer rating at 107.4 and is eighth in QBR at 75.5. As they say, the numbers don’t lie and they point to Carr playing the best football of his career.
Carr is on a mission
Head coach Jon Gruden, as quoted by Pro Football Talk, is not surprised and explains why Carr is playing so well:
“He’s all business. He’s on a mission right now to prove that he can be one of the top, if not the best, in football. That’s what he’s after. . . . I think he’s on a mission to deliver his leadership, his play-making and his day-to-day consistency to this team. If you could see him here every day in these circumstances, you’d all be impressed with what he represents. I couldn’t be happier having him as my quarterback.”
Despite all of the criticism Carr has faced over the past few years, particularly for his own fans, they probably could not be happier having him as the starting quarterback of the Raiders. He’s taking deep shots like they’ve always clamored for him to do and he’s making plays with his legs to extend drives and put up points.
Most importantly, Derek Carr is making plays to help the Raiders win and has carried this team with all of its injuries and struggling defense to a strong 6-3 record against some tough opponents. The job is not yet done this year and he faces a tough task against Kansas City this weekend but Carr knows better than anybody that anything is possible on any given Sunday.