Many fans have soured on Derek Carr as the quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders but that doesn’t mean he’s not respected around the NFL. There have been rumors that the team could get more than one first-round pick for the quarterback in a trade. There are a number of teams that would love to have Carr leading their team.
Sports Illustrated’s Hondo Carpenter recently spoke with a few NFL general managers and they had some very strong thoughts on the Raiders’ quarterback.
“I have been in this business a long time,” a general manager told Carpenter. “That is why I can understand the criticism thrown at Derek Carr — but it doesn’t make it right. Derek Carr wins ball games, he doesn’t lose them for Jon [Gruden] and I don’t think there is any doubt he is a Top 10-caliber quarterback.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Carr was a top-10 quarterback in 2020 so what this general manager is saying isn’t outrageous.
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GMs Blame Bad Defense for Raiders’ Struggles
Nobody ever wants to hear excuses, especially when the Raiders have been so bad for almost two decades. However, the team’s defense has seriously held them back for a while now. Carr led a top-10 scoring offense in 2020 but the Raiders were only able to win eight games. One general manager believes a good defense makes Las Vegas a lot better.
“Derek is guilty of being a good quarterback on a team with a bad defense,” a second NFL general manager said. “Give him a decent defense and the Raiders are an entirely different team.”
A different general manager doesn’t believe that Carr has had very good pieces around him in recent years.
“Let’s not pretend he has had great players surrounding him,” a third NFL general manager said. “I remember the talk of him being an MVP when he had players around him. He has those weapons on offense now, but that defense is not good.”
It’s no coincidence that Carr’s numbers have gotten better every year that he gets better weapons. The Raiders’ skill position players should only improve in 2021, which could mean big things for the quarterback.
Carr Compared to Former Star Quarterback
While Carr is very good, he’s not among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. There’s nothing wrong with that as there are probably only five or six truly elite quarterbacks right now. The Raiders don’t need Carr to be elite to win a Super Bowl. A number of executives believe that Carr compares favorably to former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms.
“I like comparing Derek to Phil,” the third general manager told Carpenter, “but having had a good view of Phil, I think Derek may be a better quarterback. Both guys were loved by their teammates and solid off the field. Neither guy cost their team’s ball games, but Phil slept good at night because of that amazing defense.
“I’m not sure if I was Derek if I could sleep knowing I had to make no mistakes and over-perform in order to win.”
Even if the Raiders had an average defense, they probably would’ve been in the playoffs last season. No, the offense isn’t perfect. Carr needs to get his fumbling issue under control and the wide receiver corps needs to step up. That said, the defense is holding the Raiders back from having a good team right now.