Success is a funny thing, when you are winning, you have the world’s adoration and attention at all times, which seems to be the case for Derek Carr.
We are only two games into the 2021 season, and there is already MVP chatter surrounding the NFL’s passing yards leader. Through two games, Derek Carr has led the Raiders to wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens while accumulating over 800 yards passing in the process.
There was a lot of laughter surrounding the comments made by former NFL player Keyshawn Johnson when he exclaimed on national television that “Derek Carr is a top-5 quarterback.” The ‘hysterical’ nature of these comments is now starting to be viewed as truth, as Carr has led the Raiders to a 2-0 record, while so far looking like indeed a top-5 quarterback.
When it comes to franchise records for passing, Carr is in his eighth season as the starter and holds nearly all of the Raiders records. Despite the numbers, many fans have been divided on quite possibly the most polarizing figure in Raiders history.
The numbers would indicate that Carr is an elite quarterback. But one thing that stands out and causes resistance among many, is his record. It seems for many that wins and losses are a quarterback stat, even if this can be viewed as subjective.
Carr’s career record now stands at 49-63, which is not impressive, but there is immeasurably more to this side of the story for a quarterback who has never started in a playoff game.
Defense wins championships, or this is what is stated over and over in the NFL. So for a quarterback who threw for over 4,000 yards last season with 27 touchdowns to only nine interceptions, how could he not lead the Raiders to the playoffs after finishing 8-8? Well, the defense was the issue.
With the Raiders having a top-10 offense, the problem was not Carr, it was a defense that allowed nearly 400 yards and close to 30 points a game.
The letdown of the defense has been the case for many of Carr’s seasons, and this was also the case even when the Raiders boasted one of the top defenders in football in Khalil Mack. So has it really been his fault? If a winning record is what keeps Carr out of the top-5 discussion, you really need to take a look at what the sport represents, it is a team game, and Carr has been consistently on teams with porous defenses.
Derek Carr has the stability and defense in 2021
Carr is now playing under his fourth coach in eight years, and finally the most consistent in head coach Jon Gruden, as this is Gruden’s fourth season in charge. Carr finally has a coach and playbook he can consistently believe in.
And Carr has improved every season under the complicated playbook of Gruden, as well as improving the record of the Raiders every season.
The Raiders finally invested top dollar on defense this offseason, as well as spending nearly every draft selection this April on that side of the ball. It has paid dividends in a season so far that has seen the defense finally play up to the level of Carr.
Outside of tight end Darren Waller, the Raiders have one of the youngest core of receivers in all of football this season, and all Carr has done is lead the league in passing by over 100 yards against two great defenses. Also, add in the fact, he is playing behind a makeshift offensive line that is falling like dominoes due to injuries.
If this is not impressive, then what is?
With his mastery of the complicated playbook and full trust in his receivers, it seems that Carr has now turned the corner on winning, or that is the hope here at least. So despite the fact it is only Week 2, is it safe to call Derek Carr a top-5 quarterback?
Well, the truth is rather murky here.
The Miami Dolphins will be without Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday, but that is not as big an advantage for the Las Vegas Raiders as one would think.
If he continues this play at this level throughout the season, then yes he surely is, but so far it is premature to call him top-five when you have a list comprised of quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, etc. If this play continues, his name should be mentioned among this list, and only taking the young season into consideration, he IS a top-five quarterback in 2021.