The last three seasons haven’t been very easy for Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. After his 2015 and 2016 seasons, it looked like he was developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, he broke his leg at the end of the 2016 season and hasn’t fully returned to form since. He improved quite a bit in his second year under Jon Gruden and he did it without a strong wide receiver corps. Despite that fact, many in the media treated it like it was a foregone conclusion that he wasn’t going to be wearing silver and black in 2020.
They were obviously wrong and now Carr will have a chance to prove them to put the rumors to rest. In fact, some in the media are very excited about what he could do this upcoming season. In a recent piece by NFL.com’s Adam Schein, Carr was named among the dark-horse NFL MVP candidates:
I was honored to be part of “The Carr Six” — the half-dozen AP voters who entered Derek’s name on the MVP ballot back in 2016. He was superb that season before breaking his leg in Oakland’s Christmas Eve win — a devastating injury that prevented the 12-4 Raiders from realizing their potential in the postseason. I know he has it in him. Honestly, it feels like I like Carr more than the Raiders do. But Carr knows this is a critical year, with Marcus Mariota now breathing down his neck.
I think the former second-round pick rises to the occasion. I foresee Carr maximizing first-round burner Henry Ruggs III early and often. I envision the Raiders surprising some people this year, with Carr being the main reason why.
Raiders Believe in Carr
Regardless of what anybody said this offseason, it’s clear that the Raiders believe in Carr. They could’ve gone hard after Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers or Jameis Winston, but decided that they’re comfortable with the incumbent. That fact is probably the biggest endorsement the Gruden-led Raiders have given Carr yet.
Yes, they did sign Marcus Mariota, but that’s mainly to serve as a backup. It’s hard to imagine there’s any chance Mariota unseats Carr unless there is an injury. There’s a narrative in the media that Gruden is never content with his quarterback, but that’s not based on fact. Outside of Rich Gannon, Carr is the most talented quarterback Gruden has ever been able to coach. He’s not going to give that up unless there’s a clear upgrade and if Carr has a big season, he’s going to stick around for a very long time.
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How Carr Can Win the MVP
Not since 2016 has Carr been surrounded by the amount of offensive talent that he will be in 2020. He’s got a strong offensive line, an elite running back, one of the most dynamic tight ends and possibly the fastest wide receiver in the NFL.
In the draft, the Raiders made it clear that they wanted to load up on offensive weapons. Carr now has exciting players at almost every position. Some of the playmakers are still very young so there could be some growing pains. However, there’s no excuse for the Raiders to not have a top-10 offense in 2020. If Carr can build off of last season and improve his number while leading Las Vegas to the playoffs, he’ll have to be in MVP consideration. While some have soured on the veteran quarterback, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t put up some really good numbers this season.