Oakland Raiders: Reports of Carr’s demise perhaps being greatly exaggerated

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field after a play in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field after a play in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders are in the midst of a dreadful season, prompting changes aplenty – one change not likely coming though, is under center.

With the Oakland Raiders being as bad as they are and seemingly in a state of disarray, of course the speculation about which player(s) will or won’t be around next season. Plenty of theories get bandied about regarding who’s job is safe and whose isn’t.

And really, the only person whose job we can say with any certainty, is safe, is HC Jon Gruden, of course.

However, we can still make some educated guesses based on things he’s said – things he hasn’t said – playing time, eyeballing the players’ performances, and maybe most importantly, history. Although he’s learned some new things in his decade away from the game, there are still a ton of similarities between vintage Gruden and Gruden 2.0, in terms of preferences and style.

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They say that the quarterback gets too much credit when things are going well and too much of the blame when things are going wrong. And that certainly seems true. Back in 2016, when the team was 12-4 and back in the playoffs for the first time since the Taft Administration, Carr was celebrated by the Raider Nation and proclamations of his ascending greatness filled the land.

Fast forward to today, and people are burning him in effigy in Jack London square.

Carr’s fall from grace in the eyes of many around the Nation has been fast and hard. And while he most certainly deserves much of the criticism he faces on a daily basis, he doesn’t deserve all of the slings and arrows being fired in his direction.

It’s kind of hard for a quarterback to give an optimal performance behind an injury-ravaged line going through a rough transition period with two rookie tackles, not much of a running game to speak of, and a receiving corps that makes Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards look positively flush with goodies – and oh yeah, to be further hamstrung by a defense that gives up yards and points like Halloween candy.

No quarterback could put together a winning season with all of those factors working against him. Not Carr. Not Andrew Luck. Not Ben Roethlisberger. Not Aaron Rodgers. Not Tom Brady. Not even Joe Montana could win with the deck stacked against them like that.

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And yet, despite all of that working against him, Carr is – believe it, or not – on pace to have a personal best season.

Yeah, it’s kind of hard to believe, but statistically speaking, Carr is on track to have his best season as a pro. Granted, the only results that genuinely matter can be found in the win-loss column – and there has been very little positive coming out of that metric – but again, Carr gets way too much credit/blame for the victories and the losses.

The fact of the matter – statistically speaking – is that Carr, should he maintain his current pace, will have a career year. Which is sort of astounding when you consider the dumpster fire this team is. The trick, of course, is maintaining that current pace.

As long as he can rebound from a shoddy performance against Baltimore in week twelve, Carr could very well exceed his career stats, pretty much across the board. He currently has a completion percentage of 68.3 (which is significantly higher than his previous seasons).

His average of 7.3 yards per pass attempt is a career high, and sitting at an average of 10.7, he’s within striking distance of achieving a career best in yards per reception.

His touchdowns are down to a career low (13), which is concerning. But, his interception spree has tapered off and he hasn’t thrown a pick in the last six games – which shows that he may be finally grasping the nuances of Gruden’s offense. More or less.

If he can keep that streak going, he could finish the 2018 season with the second fewest picks of his career – eight, compared to the six he tossed in 2016.

His QB rating is currently at 92.2 – which is the second best of his career – and his career high of 96.7 is still within reach. Carr is also averaging 257 passing yards per game – second best again, only to his 2016 MVP candidate season.

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And if he can hit that average over the last five games of the year, he’ll finish the year with 4,112 passing yards – a career high and the first time he’ll have topped the 4,000 passing yards mark in a season.

His numbers are all up across the board, but it hasn’t translated many wins – which is how players are usually measured, fair or not. And according to a growing number of discontented voices, the time has apparently come to jettison Carr — despite the fact that Carr has had very little to work with.

That belief is now being echoed in print by various writers of various mock drafts, suggesting that the Raiders will take a quarterback with one of their three first round picks – either Oregon’s Justin Herbert, or Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray – which is strange, given that he’s already stated his intention of bypassing the NFL to play for the Oakland A’s, who drafted him.

Yeah, Carr hasn’t looked the part of the franchise quarterback this year. His performance is continually stacked up against his 2016 showing, and against that, he’s found lacking.

Although he played great ball and looked like a true franchise quarterback, if you look a little closer, there was actually a confluence of events that helped him get there – you can’t deny that there was a little smoke and mirrors in play with that season.

This year, he’s struggled mightily. But, this is also a system – his third system in his five seasons – and it’s the most complex he’s had. Carr has more responsibility for actually running this offense than he ever did under Dennis Allen or Jack Del Rio.

Gruden’s offense is a lot to take in and it will usually take a minute to digest it all. Just ask Rich Gannon, who didn’t look particularly great in his first season running Gruden’s offense, but obviously developed into a league MVP with a little time in the system.

All of that to say, if you were hoping for Carr to be sent packing after this season, it’s probably not going to happen. He’s a talented quarterback and Gruden is going to give him another year – at least – to get his system down. And hopefully, put some solid pieces around him that will help him flourish in ways we haven’t seen to this point.

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Gruden has a reputation for getting the most – and best – out of his quarterbacks. And we’ve seen flashes that Carr is starting to pick up this offense – here and there, anyway. But, expecting him to have it mastered in one season is probably kind of unrealistic.

It would be a shock to see the Raiders take a quarterback with one of their first round picks next year. They have more pressing issues to be worried about and bigger holes to fill. Gruden knows it and will – hopefully – address those needs, rather than creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

So, for anybody hoping they’d trade in their used Carr this offseason, you’re very likely going to be very disappointed.