Derek Carr is Broken

By Jason Lisk

Derek Carr left the game against Seattle Seahawks in London with an arm injury late in the affair, after being sacked for the sixth time in the game. Carr reaching for his arm in pain–the injury as it turns out is not serious–was nevertheless a metaphor for what has become a major problem in Oakland: he appears to be a broken man.

So far, the Gruden-Carr pairing has resulted in improved completion percentages and yards per play on the stat sheet, even after losing 27-3. It’s interesting that this year represents his best ever in yards per attempt (he’s never been above 7.0 before) but everything else seems to have gone horribly wrong. But the yards per attempt and higher completion rate is because Gruden’s offense features passes to the backs and short passes to increase the completion percentage. But other than the major outlier of the shootout with Cleveland, where he threw 4 touchdown passes, Carr has not been making plays downfield with the receivers.

Amari Cooper has 2 or fewer catches in 9 of his last 20 games with the Raiders. Jordy Nelson had the big game against the Browns but has been under 50 yards in every other game. The Raiders have scored 20 or less in five of the six games this year, and in nine of the last 10 games Derek Carr has started. He’s thrown 8 interceptions this year, and fewer touchdowns than picks.

In the two years before he signed his big contract extension in the summer of 2017, he threw 60 total touchdowns versus 19 interceptions. Over the last two years, he has combined for only 29 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 21 games, and the Raiders are scoring less than 20 points per game.

Jon Gruden highlighted Carr as one of the reasons for coming to the Raiders. But that patience won’t last long, and the rumors are already swirling. This morning, Jason La Canfora said:

"Ultimately, what this means for quarterback Derek Carr, Oakland’s second-round pick in 2014, remains to be seen, though it’s fair to say a growing number of GMs suspect Gruden may entertain offers for him as well in 2019, especially if Gruden’s in position to draft his pick of quarterbacks in the upcoming draft."

If things are going south, you can bet that Gruden is not going to have patience with a quarterback that doesn’t execute his offense well. He certainly didn’t have that patience his first time around, and it’s doubtful that he’s mellowed.

So right now, Derek Carr is broken. Can he get back to where he was a few years ago? It may be somewhere else if the Raiders keep losing and end up with a top pick in the draft.