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Numbers show Derek Carr trending upward; could he be returning to 2016 form?

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is starting to show he’s getting himself back up to the level he was in 2016.

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many believe the Oakland Raiders need a new quarterback. Some mock drafts even have Oregon QB Justin Herbert going to them at No. 2 overall. But $100 million man Derek Carr could have a say in that and he is showing signs of returning to his 2016 NFL MVP candidate form.

In 15 games that season, Carr threw for 3937 yards, 28 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 96.7. The two stats that made his overall year what it was is his much-improved passer rating under pressure of 70 and passer rating on deep balls of 117.6. But of course, he broke his leg late in 2016 and didn’t look quite the same in 2017.

It is not uncommon for players to take two years to come back from a bad injury. There’s a mental barrier players sometimes have to get through when they suffer major injuries. Then add that last season Carr broke his back in three places and played through that pain.

So of course, he freaked out when the rush came, especially when players fell near his feet in the pocket. That may have led to Carr’s passer rating under pressure falling to 40.6. And with his back affecting his torque, his passer rating on deep balls fell to 71.4.

In comes Jon Gruden in 2018 and Raider Nation expects him to explode right away. That didn’t happen. Over the first five games his passer rating under pressure was a paltry 35.78. That could easily be attributed to learning a new offense. Everything speeds up under pressure making it difficult to instinctively know where all his targets are.

As Carr has gotten to know his system better he’s started to look more like the 2016 NFL MVP candidate. Over the last seven games, he hasn’t thrown an interception while throwing 9 TDs. His passer rating under pressure over that stretch is 102.66 and his deep ball passer rating for the season is 91.9.

In Week 13, he shot it out with the young gun Patrick Mahomes and lost 40-33 to an overall talented Kansas City Chiefs offense. Carr threw for 285 yards and 3 TD’s against the Chiefs Sunday and was impressive with a 120.4 passer rating under pressure and a 115 passer rating on deep balls.

The one thing missing from the 2016 equation is wins. He has just one win over the past that seven-game stretch. Though the fault for that doesn’t fall solely on the quarterback.

Carr is doing working with tight end Jared Cook as his only legitimate downfield threat. Amari Cooper was traded, Jordy Nelson had a coming out party Sunday after being a non-factor for weeks and Martavis Bryant has been injured.

Protection has been an issue as well, as the Raiders rank No. 27 in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency compared to No. 1 the previous two years. Due primarily to rookies at both tackle spots with 1st-rounder Kolton Miller (left tackle) and 3rd-rounder Brandon Parker (right tackle).

The Raiders’ current rebuild would be helped greatly should Carr indeed be showing a return to his 2016 form. The numbers suggest that return could be already in progress.


Do you think Derek Carr is proving he is on his way back?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    Yes, the numbers don’t lie
    (864 votes)
  • 6%
    No, the stats are meaningless without the wins
    (76 votes)
  • 25%
    Not sure, I need to see what he does over the final four games
    (319 votes)
1259 votes total Vote Now