After seeing his reputation decline since he finished third in MVP voting in 2016, Derek Carr has slowly rebuilt his standing in the league. He threw for a career-high 4,804 passing yards last season and led the Las Vegas Raiders to playoffs for the second time since 2002. He proved a lot of doubters wrong last season with a number of gritty performances.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has been surveying the NFL to determine the top 10 players at every position. Carr didn’t land in the top-10 quarterbacks but was an honorable mention. Fowler got a quote for an anonymous coach who has been impressed with Carr but did note one issue he has with the quarterback.
“His film was really good,” an NFL offensive coach said. “The guy was one of the best third-down passers in the NFL last year. He lacks a little toughness at times; that’s my only real knock on him. Won’t stand in there.”
There’s an argument to be made that Carr deserves to be in the top-10 over Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott but there are a lot of good quarterbacks in the league right now. Having another big season that ends in a playoff berth would only help Carr’s standing in the NFL.
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Does Carr Lack Toughness?
The coach was mostly complimentary towards Carr but it’s odd that he would say that quarterback lacks toughness. Throughout his eight-year career, he has only missed two starts due to injury. He’s played through multiple injuries and has rarely missed plays due to injury.
The narrative that Carr lacks toughness has been around for a while. However, it doesn’t seem to be based on fact. He’s never shown that he lacks toughness. He might get a little flustered when he’s under pressure in the pocket but most quarterbacks do.
Another Coach Praises Carr’s Improvements
Another common knock against Carr in the past was that he doesn’t drive the ball down the field. He’s done a lot of work to quiet that narrative. He’s been one of the best deep-ball throwers in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. One coach who spoke to Fowler believes that Carr has made strides with making throws all over the field.
“Early in his career I would say he had trouble driving the ball vertically, but that doesn’t appear to be an issue anymore,” an NFC coach said. “He can hit all parts of the field and looks in command.”
Carr has always had a good arm, he just wasn’t always able to use it do it poor offensive line play or lackluster wide receivers. He should now be able to sling it better than he ever has with Davante Adams joining the team. Carr is in the position to make a statement this season that he belongs in the conversation as one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL. The most important thing will be making sure the Raiders make the playoffs. Winning a playoff game or two would do a lot for Carr to earn more respect around the league.