For years Derek Carr has been one of the most unfairly maligned quarterbacks in the NFL. A player not only largely loathed by his own Raiders fanbase, but constantly the subject of replacement talk, all while getting forgotten about in the national picture. Now, after his stunning overtime win against the Ravens, it’s time we all respected Carr a lot more than we already do.
Carr’s arrival in the NFL was fraught with guilt by association. If Eli Manning was given the rub by his Hall of Fame brother, then what Derek got was the opposite. Unfairly shackled to older brother David, the comparisons between the two were immediate. Heck, just look at one of the “negatives” listed in his scouting profile before the draft on NFL.com.
“Could face bust-factor perception resulting from his older brother’s career”
Nothing about that statement is remotely fair, though it’s not wrong. Despite having a resume that screamed “first round pick,” Derek Carr was seen as being a risky prospect. Hilarious in hindsight, especially considering that two quarterbacks selected before him, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, are two of the biggest busts in recent history.
David Carr was bad. Really bad. It didn’t help that the fledgling expansion Texans couldn’t protect him, leading to him being sacked an astonishing 76 TIMES his rookie season. After that it made the young passer gun shy, and the once-promising player’s career ended before it ever really began. Whether real or imagined, the perception was that while David wasn’t given help, he also didn’t have the mental fortitude to turn it all around.
Fast forward 10 years and Derek is entering the league, and despite being a very different player at Fresno State, those concerns lingered. The Raiders selected him with the third pick of the second round, and from that point forward Carr has been the nexus of debate. Often blamed for the team’s middling finishes, eternally locked in replacement talk with Marcus Mariota being brought in, presumably to take his job — and yet, unlike his brother, Carr remained tough.
Despite fans blaming him all the time ... Carr remained tough.
Despite the entire NFL world ignoring his accomplishments ... Carr remained tough.
In fact, Derek Carr has been the best damn quarterback in the NFL that nobody talks about. After he made the Pro Bowl in years 2 and 3 (largely by default, to be fair) the passer has caught fire in the last three years putting up seasons that would be hailed if he was anyone else but David Carr’s brother, and if he was playing somewhere else other than Las Vegas.
Let’s play a fun game, shall we? Here are three quarterback’s combined stats from the last three years. You guess who they are.
Quarterback A: 13,045 yards, 93 TD, 31 INT — 96.0 average QB rating
Quarterback B: 12,206 yards, 73 TD, 27 INT — 98.7 average QB rating
Quarterback C: 13,971 yards, 87 TD, 32 INT — 97.8 average QB rating
Answers? “A” is Tom Brady, “C” is Matt Ryan, and “B” is, you guessed it, Derek Carr. The point here isn’t to say Carr is better than Brady or Ryan, it’s to acknowledge that he’s close, he’s in the ballpark. However, before this season if you polled NFL fans who didn’t get to look at stats, they’d likely say Brady and Ryan were Top 10 quarterbacks, and rank Derek Carr somewhere in the early 20s. That’s just the perception, and it had become the reality.
Heck, if you look up some of the nicknames Derek Carr has been called “Dink-and-dunk Derek” comes up time, and time, and time again. It’s largely an unfair knock designed to diminish his passing achievements and pin them on receivers. While he did his fair share of outlet passing, and Carr has decidedly become more confident as a deep thrower — he’s never really been only a short passer. Once again, perception meets reality.
That’s why Monday Night Football was such a mammoth deal. It’s prime time football in Week 1. Before apathy can set in. Ahead of where the schedule breaks and gives us garbage games on Monday. More eyes were on the game than likely any other of Carr’s career, and not only did he throw for over 400 yards, but he turned one of the most bizarre overtime endings in NFL history into an utter triumph, throwing a backfoot bomb to Zay Jones for a walk-off touchdown.
It’s impossible to ignore Derek Carr anymore. It’s finally time to divorce him from his brother’s shadow, and treat him for what he is: One of the best quarterbacks in the league, even if nobody talks about him.