Derek Carr isn’t a bad NFL player, but if the Raiders want to become legitimate Super Bowl contenders they need an upgrade at quarterback.
The Raiders didn’t hire Jon Gruden to build a slightly above average team. Officials in Las Vegas want to see him build a Super Bowl contender.
That isn’t going to happen with Derek Carr at quarterback.
In complete fairness to Carr, he responded to Gruden’s hiring with his best individual season since his shockingly good 2016 season. The former Fresno State star completed over 70 percent of his passes and threw 21 touchdowns compared to just eight interceptions. He was part of the reason why the Raiders increased their win total by three victories.
Carr is still a flawed quarterback. The Raiders drastically upgraded their offensive line but he’s still completely unreliable when pressure collapses the pocket. Gruden and his coaching staff did their best to minimize those situations by leaning heavily on their ground game. Josh Jacobs may not have won Offensive Rookie of the Year, but no one inside the Raiders organization has any doubts about how well he played in 2019.
Perhaps more troubling is Carr’s inability to make accurate passes down the field. He showcases some decent touch on throws over the top, but he lacks the accuracy required to make intermediate throws in tight windows. As a result, a large portion of his production comes by throwing to tight ends and other receivers in shallow pass patterns. That compresses the field in a negative way for his offense.
If Carr were a first or second year pro it might be reasonable to believe he could be coached out of some of these deficiencies. Unfortunately, there isn’t much upside left in his game at 28 years of age. The player Carr was in 2019 likely represents the best possible version of what he can be moving forward. It’s much more likely that his play will regress than progress over the next several seasons.
The Raiders aren’t going to be a contender in the rugged AFC West without a borderline star at the quarterback position. Patrick Mahomes isn’t leaving Kansas City anytime soon. Broncos’ officials are optimistic about Drew Lock’s future in Denver. The Chargers will also be making a significant investment at the quarterback position this offseason.
That opens up a very real possibility that the Raiders will sport the weakest quarterback in the division very soon. That’s not a reality Gruden and his front office can afford to face. It’s time for Las Vegas to find a successor for Carr. The longer they wait to address the long-term future at the position the more cloudy their franchise’s future is going to become.