Is Derek Carr really a Stan-Worthy Quarterback?

Source: Ron Schwayne/AP

There’s no Raiders player in recent memory more polarizing than Derek Carr. Carr comes up in almost every argument you see about the Raiders, and he’s a player that seems to be talked about 24/7 among Raider Nation nowadays.

Carr seems to be the perfect player to receive both criticism and hate. It makes sense that a fan wouldn’t like him. After all, the Raiders have seen the playoffs one time in the past 18 seasons. Also, Carr hasn’t started a playoff game in his seven-year career.

But if you said that, a Carr fan would be quick to remind you that Derek actually did get the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016. But we all know Carr broke his leg in Week 16 as the Raiders’ owned a 12-3 record.

Both of those are very good points, but they both seem to be repeated over and over again. It’s impossible to go on Raider Nation Twitter without seeing the endless debate as to whether Carr is a top-15 or top-10 quarterback. We know Carr has a lot of fans. Here’s my question: How many of those fans should Stan him as much as they do? And, are those fans right to Stan Derek Carr?

Breaking down the pro-Carr arguments

In a typical Carr-centered argument on Twitter, these subjects are typically brought up by the average Carr-Stan: he’s never had a good defense, and he hasn’t had consistent receivers. Let’s dive into these arguments.

First, we have the theory that Carr has never had a good defense. After asking that question, it takes about five seconds to close the case. We all know that he hasn’t had a great defense at all. The Raiders defense has actually ranked in the bottom half of the league every single season Carr has played for the Raiders. In 5 of the team’s 8 wins in 2020, the defense gave up at least 25 points. In another win, they allowed the Saints to score 24.

Now, lets analyze the receiving corps Derek Carr has had in his past seven seasons. This is where it gets dicey for the Carr-Stans. They’re right about Carr’s first year. I won’t try to sit here and tell you that Derek Carr had a good receiving group when he was throwing to Andre Holmes and James Jones in 2014.

Still, in his second year, Carr had Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Carr had both of those two all the way through the 2017 season, and in 2017, the team added a talented tight end in Jared Cook as well.

In 2018, Carr had Jordy Nelson, who admittedly wasn’t his former self. But in 2019, Darren Waller broke out, and Henry Ruggs was added in 2020. It’s very fair to say that Derek Carr has had plenty of talented players to throw the ball to. We’ve seen many great quarterbacks in this league do more with less than Carr has had to work with, so this argument stands with no merit.

Considering this, has Derek Carr played well enough to be Stanned by Raider Nation?

To put it simply, no.

Carr is a talented quarterback beyond any measure of doubt. He is also a top-15 QB in this league. The Raiders could be doing considerably worse at this position, especially considering the QBs this very fanbase has seen in the past.

Still, if there are any Stan-worthy quarterbacks in the league, Carr is not one of them.

In 2017, PFF ranked Carr as the 22nd best passing quarterback in the league. In 2018, he was 21st. He managed to get all the way up to 8th in the league last year, but that’s now the highest he’s been since 2016. Considering the fact that Carr has finished inside the top-10 just once since the 2016 season, it doesn’t make any sense that he is defended as fiercely as he is.

Many fans consider Carr to play too conservative, and complain about the fact that he rarely takes shots down the field. PFF listed his average depth-of-target at just 8.5 yards down the field, good enough for 38th out of 50 qualified quarterbacks in 2020.

Carr was also tied with the 10th most intentional throwaways in the league at 23, despite having a roughly average time to throw compared to most quarterbacks, at 2.77 seconds. Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert and Ryan Tannehill all had shorter average times to throw the ball last year, yet had better seasons.

Carr threw less down-the-field than most quarterbacks. He threw the ball away at a high average, all while having plenty of time to throw the ball. Carr still ended up with 18 turnover plays, 12th most of qualified quarterbacks.

Derek Carr is a good player. He is able to spread the ball around, and get the offense going down the field. He’s never had a good defense to help him, and has been forced to put the team on his back many times in the past to will the Raiders to victory. He should get his credit for that.

With that said, he is not a Stan-worthy quarterback, and hasn’t played well enough to warrant the fierce defense his fans consistently provide him. He’s been a middle-of-the-pack quarterback for most of his career, with a couple seasons being just a bit better than that. He’s never been a consensus top-10 quarterback, and he doesn’t have a playoff win under his belt in seven years. He is simply not Stan-worthy.

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