Analyzing the Raiders’ advantages in the AFC West
Old buddies reunited
Saving what’s likely the biggest advantage Las Vegas has in the AFC West for last – Davante Adams, and his pre-existing relationship with quarterback Derek Carr.
Realistically, it’s hard to argue against Davante Adams being the top wide receiver at the pro level. Adams is a back-to-back first-team All-Pro while averaging what’s essentially 100 yards and 1 touchdown in his last 30 contests (2,927 receiving yards, 29 touchdowns).
In the Red Zone, Adams has been particularly impressive. Last season, he caught the fourth-most passes here, recording 18 receptions, and a second-highest 10 Red Zone touchdowns.
The year prior, in 2020, Adams was in a league of his own – Throughout NFL history. The former Green Bay receiver caught 23 passes for 14 touchdowns inside the 20, with 17 receptions and 13 scores coming from inside the 10. To find a year any single NFL receiver eclipsed just one of these numbers, you’d have to go back to Moss in ’07, who was only able to meet Adams’ 14 total Red Zone touchdowns.
The other three numbers are NFL records only Davante Adams can claim he has.
As mind-blowing as Adams’ Red Zone numbers are – And boy, if any team needs a boost in the Red Zone, it’s the Raiders – that’s not the main focus here. The core point is Carr has his stud on the outside, who happens to be the best receiver in the sport, and perhaps more importantly, the two had already shared a bond as strong as any you’ll find.
Just how strong is their pre-existing bond? This month, in early June, it was said by analyst and Derek’s older brother, David Carr, that the Davante Adams trade was “Something [Carr and Adams] tried to make happen for five years now”.
So, what started the pair’s desire to team up? You’d have to go back to Fresno State, where the duo of Carr and Adams practically rewrote the school’s history books.
During their time as [Fresno State] Bulldogs, Carr shattered the overall school record for passing yardage and passing touchdowns. On the other side, Adams carved his name under the total touchdown receptions record. Together, the two totaled more yards and touchdowns through the air than any other alumni pairing in a two-year span.
Now a decade later, their college days are ancient history. How do we know Adams will have the same success he once did with Carr, or even perform at the same level he reached with the reigning back-to-back MVP, Aaron Rodgers?
Four pass catchers have played with Aaron Rodgers before transitioning to Derek Carr. Of those four, three have publicly emphasized the vast similarities between the two quarterbacks. James Jones, the first of the four to transition from Rodgers to Carr, went as far as dubbing no.4 “Mini Rodgers”.
Davante Adams is the latest to praise his new quarterback’s abilities, claiming the talent levels of Rodgers and Carr are “Really similar”.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence the two have similar abilities that stand out to former Packer pass catchers. In the past, Carr has publicly expressed his fondness of Rodgers, stating he often reaches out to the Green Bay quarterback for guidance when he feels it’s necessary. Rodgers, to his credit as a friend, would respond with a helping hand.
Looking at the weapons at Derek Carr's disposal in 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders have surrounded him with the best group of his career.
In a 2018 pre-season contest against the Packers, Carr and Rodgers swapped receivers during warmups. While the current reigning MVP got to spend time with Jordy Nelson, the long-time Packers’ receiver who the Silver and Black signed that off-season, Adams ran routes for Carr. Now, the two get to reunite for a regular-season game on the same team. Finally, for Adams and Carr, things have gone full circle.