wwjd - raiders quarterbacks - thou shall not covet other quarterbacks - Derek Carr
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WWJD #17 – Derek Carr: Thou Shall Not Covet Other Quarterbacks

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Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr always seems to be the fall guy for all things Silver and Black in the eyes of Raider Nation.

 

 

wwjd - raiders quarterbacks - thou shall not covet other quarterbacks - Derek Carr
Photo Credit: Terrance Quaites- Franchise Sports Media

They blame him for the team’s poor record and point to his play in Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. They claim Carr “checks down” too much and doesn’t take enough deep shots, or ignores open receivers to throw the ball away.

They also claim that Carr isn’t fiery enough as a leader since he’s never seen barking back at Gruden or having a profanity-laced tirade on the sideline. Some fans claim that Carr isn’t that type of leader because he is a devoted Christian. I call B.S. I think some fans don’t like the fact that Carr is unapologetic about his love for Christ. Period.

 

There are plenty of professional athletes who are saved or profoundly religious and still able to be straight dawgs on the field. Carr is no different than Reggie White, Deion Sanders, Steve Young, Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow, Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner, and the great Muhammad Ali, all of whom are/were outspoken about their religious beliefs.

Why is it that Carr is considered a poor leader or “weak” and “too much of a Mr. Nice Guy” because he is religious?

I hear some Raiders fans say, “I want a quarterback that will fight back to Gruden, get in the face of his teammates and curse them out, and show more piss and vinegar on the field. I’m tired of him saying ‘It’s on me’ after games. I want a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes that throws the ball deep.”

 

All Derek Carr has been since Reggie McKenzie drafted him in the second round is a leader, accountable, and the face of the franchise.

 

wwjd - raiders quarterbacks - thou shall not covet other quarterbacks - Derek Carr
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We are talking about a franchise that has been looking for a face for more than a decade and has only one playoff season in the last 18 years. That was the 2016 season in which Carr led them to a postseason birth before breaking his leg in the second-to-last regular-season game. A franchise that one could argue has been looking for their long-term signal-caller since Jim Plunkett, who finished his career in 1986.

 

Shall we run down the list of starting quarterbacks the Raiders have had since Jim Plunkett?

 

  • 1987- Marc Wilson / Rusty Hilger / Vince Evans  
    1988- Jay Schroeder / Steve Beuerlein 
    1989- Jay Schroeder / Steve Beuerlein  
    1990- Jay Schroeder
    1991- Jay Schroeder / Todd Marinovich
    1992- Jay Schroeder / Todd Marinovich  
    1993- Jeff Hostetler / Vince Evans
    1994- Jeff Hostetler 
  • 1995- Jeff Hostetler / Vince Evans / Billy Joe Hobert
    1996- Jeff Hostetler / Billy Joe Hobert
    1997- Jeff George
    1998- Jeff George / Donald Hollas / Wade Wilson  
    1999-2002- Rich Gannon
    2003- Rick Mirer / Rich Gannon / Marques Tuiasosopo
    2004- Kerry Collins / Rich Gannon
    2005- Kerry Collins  / Marques Tuiasosopo
    2006- Andrew Walter / Aaron Brooks
    2007- Josh McCown / Daunte Culpepper / JaMarcus Russell 
    2008- JaMarcus Russell / Andrew Walter
    2009- JaMarcus Russell / Bruce Gradkowski / Charlie Frye
    2010- Jason Campbell / Bruce Gradkowski 
    2011- Carson Palmer / Jason Campbell / Kyle Boller  
    2012- Carson Palmer / Terrelle Pryor
    2013- Terrelle Pryor / Matt McGloin / Matt Flynn
    2014- Present- Derek Carr 

 

Carr has not only stabilized the Raiders quarterback position but also stabilized the organization.

 

He had his highest completion percentage (70.4%) and passed for the most yards in his career (4,054) in 2019, but yet fans complain that he isn’t “the man to lead the Raiders” because he doesn’t throw down the field enough a la Patrick Mahomes or the Houston Texans’ DeShaun Watson.

 

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The truth is Gruden’s runs a  timing-based west coast offense that relies more on RAC (run after catch) yards then it does taking deep shots down the field. When the offense does take a shot down-field, it usually comes off play-action. So slants, hitches, digs, outs, curls, and whip routes are staples, while Gruden strategically calls deep posts, corners, and streaks.

To his credit, Gruden has added more wrinkles to his offense to modernize it by getting his playmakers in space. Still, we weren’t able to see it like he planned last year when the majority of the playbook was tailored to Antonio Brown (and we all know how that story went).

The “check-downs” are also part of the Gruden offense. It’s basically a “tri-angle” read for Carr. If his first option isn’t open or doesn’t run the proper route, he moves on to his second option and so forth with his check-down being the final option.

For example, it’s 3rd down and 6, and Carr throws a pass to his check-down (Jalen Richard), who picks up 5 yards. Fans would be pissed at Carr for not throwing (or running) for 6+ yards, but in Gruden’s version of the west-coast offense, it is up to the receiver to pick up the first down after the catch. Carr may have made the right read, but the receiver didn’t do their job to pick up the first down. That’s not on Carr, no matter what fans say.

 

Gruden also prefers to run the ball and with Josh Jacobs as his bell-cow back, the Raiders offense will again be a “run-first” offense.

 

So how does this fall on Derek Carr? Who says because he is religious that he can’t be or isn’t a great leader? All Carr has done since taking over as the Raiders starting quarterback is take bullet after bullet for others, even when he didn’t have too. He has stood tall in the face of adversity, answering the tough questions, and has been the personification of class and a role model for young fans. He has done everything a leader is expected to do, and more.

When the Raiders officially became the Las Vegas Raiders, Carr was there with others from the organization. He was asked if he was going to be the teams starting quarterback when Allegiant Stadium opened up. Carr looked definitively and directly at the reporter and said, “I will be taking the first snap and throw the first touchdown here. I will be the starting quarterback for the Raiders until they decide otherwise.”

 

wwjd - raiders quarterbacks - thou shall not covet other quarterbacks - Derek Carr
Photo Credit: Terrance Quaites- Franchise Sports Media

You could tell he was not only tired of the question but seemed as if he had been assured that he was the guy going forward to lead the Silver and Black. For the first time, I saw him pissed off with a chip on his shoulder about the question that fans and some media outlets continue to ask. Recently Carr said that he is blocking out the haters on social media, and I don’t blame him.

To question whether or not he should be the starter  because of poor performance is one thing, but I see more and more fans wonder whether he is tough enough to lead the Raiders because “he is a Christian.”

 

Last time that I checked, no fan come back from a broken ankle to play almost half a season with a broken back, or behind one of the worst offensive lines that had him sacked 51 times in 2018 and 20 times in 2017. In 2019 Carr broke the NFL record for the most 4th quarter comebacks for a quarterback through his first six seasons in the NFL with eighteen. Only Drew Brees had a higher completion percentage than Carr.

Keep in mind; he did this without Brown, Tyrell Williams missing or playing half the year with a foot injury, a rookie wide receiver (Hunter Renfrow) who also missed multiple games due to serious injury, two receivers the Raiders traded for, and a couple of undrafted guys.

“He’s too soft to play in the cold,” some Raiders fans are now saying. His record is not good in the cold, but guess what, neither were some of the teams he played on! I’m not making excuses for Carr, but you are only as good as your weakest link, and the Raiders haven’t been good 17 out of the last 18 years, so that’s not all on Carr.

 

Maybe Carr’s play could’ve been better, I don’t deny that, but so could some of the Raiders drafts, coaching, playcalling, and players around him. So let’s keep it all the way 100!

 

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said as much during his pre-draft press conference. Mayock eluded to the receiving corp not being adequate and that the defense is the most significant weak spot on the team. He said the least of his worries is the quarterback position, but yet people didn’t take him at his word. Pundits and fans alike continued insisting that the Raiders draft or sign a quarterback in the offseason.

The Raiders were linked to Tom Brady, but they didn’t make an offer to him. In the last two drafts, the Raiders were rumored to like both Daniel Jones (drafted by the New York Giants) and Dwayne Haskins (who was selected by the Washington Redskins).

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the rumor was that they loved and were potentially going to select Utah State’s Jordan Love (who the Green Bay Packers selected) with either of their first-round picks. Don’t forget the rumors about Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts (who the Philadelphia Eagles drafted in the second round).

I think it screams that Mayock and Gruden believe in Carr and feel that if they surround him with the right talent, he can lead them into the playoffs.

 

Carr’s Christianity has ZERO TO DO WITH HIS LEADERSHIP ABILITY OR PLAY!

 

In this day and age, wrong seems to be right, and right seems to be wrong. Social media makes everyone an expert. Anyone can be an NFL general manager/head coach/coordinator since they can play Madden well or watch the “All-22” for which they pay NFL.com $100.  If a team who has been struggling for almost two decades is still struggling, it must be because a player is outspoken about his religious beliefs!

 

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Maybe, it’s because Derek Carr won’t throw his teammates or organization under the bus. After all, that’s not what leaders do, so he takes the heat for them in those instances. Maybe it’s because he knows the offense, what the Raiders gameplan is weekly, and how to execute it, unlike fans who think they know it because they can saw Gruden diagram “Spider-two-Y-Banana” on ESPN.

Could there be better options than Carr? Maybe, but the people in charge must not think so since they haven’t made a move to unseat him. I would bet a dozen doughnuts that if or when the Raiders start winning and Carr is the quarterback behind center, those same fans will be singing his praises.

I would also bet Carr would be the first to thank his Lord and savior and proudly talk about how the adversity made it even sweeter. I also don’t believe he would hold a grudge against those fans or thumb his nose up to them.

I believe he would tell them he is proud to have done it for Raider Nation and thank them for believing in and sticking with him. Why? Because that’s what Derek Carr has done his entire career. Number 4 in Sliver and Black has remained classy and done the right things, even if difficult, unpopular, or doesn’t reflect what or how others feel.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

 

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