2017 Grade: .481

2017 3rd Down: .278

Week 1 at Tennessee: Derek Carr always falls somewhere between brilliant performance and a product-of-the-system. The Raiders run so many fades/back shoulder concepts to the boundary against man coverage that Carr doesn’t make many tough reads. He is, however, very accurate on these passes. He dropped a seed for a touchdown to Seth Roberts and a dime on the pass that set-up the TD. He missed a couple of throws, particularly on third down, but he was sharp most of the day.

Week 2 vs New York Jets: Derek Carr continues to conduct the best offense in football with ease. His arching sideline throws are easy for Michael Crabtree to snatch, and his patience to allow clear-out routes for check downs open up huge after the catch opportunities. In this game he was poised, accurate, and didn’t make any mistakes. He trusts his eyes more in the middle of the field as he gains experience in the league.

Week 3 at Washington: Raiders fans aren’t used to seeing their time mop up garbage time the last two years, but Derek Carr’s final two possessions were irrelevant (14 unregistered drop backs.) During the plays that counted, the Redskins corners were stingy, the pass rush was ferocious, and Derek Carr was out of rhythm all night. His first interception was a bad read, but the other two were fantastic plays by the defense. Carr threw a fourth pass that could’ve been picked off and probably returned 100 yards for a score.

Week 4 at Denver: Denver’s secondary, for the most part, manhandled the Raiders vaunted receiving corps. It’s a different game for the Raiders when Michael Crabtree isn’t on the field to bail the passing game out with his 50/50 ball prowess. Under siege for most of the afternoon, Carr couldn’t finish the game after a back injury puts him on the sideline for approximately a month. His 64-yard touchdown pass was an absolute dime.

Week 6 vs. LA Chargers: The only success in the Oakland passing game were vertical route, clear-out dump offs to the backs, and two leaping catches by Seth Roberts in the middle of the field. Last year, I wrote that Oakland’s excellent offensive line, and the ability of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper to high-point 50/50 balls was the primary success of the offense. With each of those elements lacking, the offense has suddenly bogged down. Carr’s two picks were equal blame on the receivers, but he only made one plus play in this game (two points on a throw to Roberts across his body).

2016: Conductor of the Aerial Symphony

Derek Carr received copious amounts of consideration for the MVP award in 2016. While perception may be that the season-ending injury was the only thing preventing him from capturing the crown-jewel of individual accomplishments in the NFL, reality is that he wasn’t in the same stratosphere of Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.

The Raiders offense revolves around a number of things – and just a few of those require Derek Carr to dip into his bag of off-script prowess. The ball comes out quickly on a number of short-slants that Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper win with ease. Complimenting a strong running-game is the deep passing game. This Oakland offense has an elite offensive line and they have no qualms about running the ball five or six consecutive plays – and doing so effectively.

Off of the play-action game, the Raiders run verticals – lots, and lots of verticals. Countless times every game, the three receivers in the pattern will stretch the boundary. Elite pass-protection affords Carr to stand-in and chuck the football deep into coverage where either of his decorated pass-catchers can make a play. If Carr elects not to take his shot, he can check it to the backs or tight ends crossing the middle of the field where the linebacker has vacated.

This is not to say Carr didn’t have a tremendous year. He limited his mistakes, was accurate on underneath patterns and only made the head-scratching mistakes just-about every other game.

He has all-pro level velocity all though his mechanics will get sloppy and affect his zip and spin. He’s not asked to anticipate a whole lot early, but was as the season carried on – the results were mixed.

He anticipated a route opening up once during a three-game stretch early-season and the results were not pretty. The passing game started to incorporate anticipate more in October and did it well, usually on a go or wheel route. Also, his ability to sense and flee from pressure while keeping his eyes downfield and attacking the line of scrimmage to set up a lengthy throw downfield is uncanny.

The offense is tailored for just about any quarterback to succeed. He’s rarely pressured, he throws to some wide open windows or into one-on-one, fifty-fifty balls and he has a slew of play makers that turn ordinary plays into long touchdowns (see Roberts TD in Tampa Bay or Cooper TD in Mexico.)

Carr will go consecutive quarters without an exorbitantly difficult throw (flare to the back, quick screen, slant, drag (see the San Diego game week 15. His first difficult throw is five-minutes into the second-quarter and it’s woefully underthrown and intercepted.)) To Carr’s credit, he responds with a fantastic throw on a fade pattern right in the bucket on the very next series.

I’m not trying to inherently diminish his impact on games. I do, however, feel it is my duty having studied every throw to quiet the idea that he played right up there with Tom Brady. He may one day, but this Raiders offense as a whole is a marvel and Derek Carr does a nice job of keeping that Lamborghini on the track. The staff will eventually load more onto his plate and, with his work-habits, there should be little doubt that he can grow in all areas.

Stat Sheet

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