When the Las Vegas Raiders made the decision to bench Derek Carr, that essentially spelled the end of the quarterback’s time with the team. He’s not going to be with the team for the last game against the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas will explore trade options in the near future. Carr hasn’t been great this season but it’s not fair to place all of the blame on the Raiders’ struggles solely on him.
He’s proven as recently as last season that he can at least be a top-12 quarterback in the NFL. However, there had to be more that went into his benching than just his play on the field. Head coach Josh McDaniels knows he runs a complicated offensive system and should’ve expected Carr to have some growing pains in Year 1.
What he didn’t expect was the quarterback to be a poor culture fit. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, there were many factors regarding why the team benched Carr but the most important ones were due to a few specific reasons.
“The first issue, as I understand it, connects to his fit with a new culture that draws hard lines on toughness and accountability,” Breer wrote. “The second and third can be drawn from there.”
“On the former—toughness—Carr has had a reputation for not hanging in the pocket, letting plays develop and taking a hit to strike downfield,” Breer continued. “That showed at times. One was against the Steelers in Week 16, on third-and-5 in the fourth quarter, with 3:07 left. The Steelers got pushed up the middle and rather than hold the ball and buy time, Carr quickly threw it over Davante Adams’s head and into the bench area—when Adams was in single coverage and would’ve had a chance to make a play downfield. Other issues from earlier in his career (like his ability to play in the cold) resurfaced, as well.”
When it comes to durability, Carr is as tough as they come. Prior to getting benched, he had only missed two regular season games due to injury. That said, Carr’s lack of toughness in the pocket has been a talking point for years and Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa made headlines last year when he said that the quarterback essentially falls apart as soon as teams can get pressure on him.
Carr’s Lack of Accountability?
Over the years, Carr has frequently stated that Raiders’ losses directly fall on his shoulders. It became a meme within the fan base at a certain point. To the media, he’s always remained accountable. However, that may have been a facade. Breer is reporting that the Raiders coaches and players didn’t think Carr took on enough blame.
“On the latter—accountability—there was a feeling, among coaches and players, that Carr hadn’t shouldered his share of the blame for the mountain of close losses that piled up over the weeks, with the Thursday-night loss to the Rams, a prime example,” Breer wrote.
The fact that Derek Carr’s brother David Carr came out this week and essentially blamed the Raiders for all of the struggles over the years may show that the quarterback doesn’t think he holds any responsibility for the bad season. It’s important to note that Breer is close with McDaniels and was hosted as a guest during Raiders training camp. The reporter did note that players also felt like Carr wasn’t accountable, which Breer wouldn’t report on if he didn’t have good sourcing. There’s been a lot of focus on the players who are upset about the quarterback being benched but there had to be some who were supportive of the move.
Carr Didn’t Make Enough Plays This Season
Nine of the Raiders’ 10 losses this season have come by one score. Carr was at the helm of eight of those nine losses. The quarterback was previously known for leading fourth-quarter comebacks but that wasn’t the case this season. Breer pointed to the interception on the last drive of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers as a major reason why Carr was benched.
“The fourth element I could ascertain was an ability to make the plays to turn close losses into wins, with Carr missing a wide-open Hunter Renfrow high on his game-sealing pick in Pittsburgh as the most recent example,” Breer wrote.