Advanced Stats Make The Case That Derek Carr Has Been an Elite Quarterback in 2020

For the second consecutive year, Derek Carr is having a career year and a number of advanced stats illustrate just how effective Carr has been in his third year under Jon Gruden.

Let’s take a look at a few.

Pass On-Target Percentage

Carr has always been one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. This year, Carr has been on target with 83.5% of this throws. For a number of reasons, that dynamic hasn’t led to more wins in the past (he was at 82.6% last year), but only one quarterback in the NFL has been more accurate than Carr through the first five weeks: Russell Wilson (83.9%).

For the record, Tom Brady (who was rumored to be replacing Carr in Las Vegas) has the sixth-worst on target percentage among starting quarterbacks in the NFL this year.

Quarterback Rating

Carr’s 115.9 quarterback rating is good, but quarterback numbers are up around the league as a whole. The bigger story is how many quarterbacks in the NFL have a better quarterback rating than Carr.

Only two: Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.

Completion Percentage

This might be Jon Gruden’s favorite stat.

Gruden is on record saying that he wants his quarterback to complete every pass thrown. Carr is about as close as Gruden is going to get. Only Teddy Bridgewater (73.4) has a better completion percentage than Carr (73.1) this year.

For what it’s worth, Drew Brees holds the NFL record for a single-season completion percentage (74.4). That might be a record to watch, especially with the Raiders schedule getting a little softer in the second half of the year.

Pass Attempts 20+ Yards Downfield

Remember all the hot one-liners about how Carr couldn’t throw the deep ball?

In 2020, no quarterback in the NFL has a better quarterback rating (143.8) on throws 20+ yards downfield. Carr has shown a willingness to attack downfield and Gruden seems to be calling more deep shots. It makes you wonder how much of that has to do with philosophy and how much of it has to do with personnel. It’s been a long time since the Raiders had the speed and maturity at receiver that they have now.

Drop Percentage

Speaking of receivers…

This isn’t necessarily a Carr stat, but Raiders are dropping passes at a lower rate than at any point in his career. Just 2.4% of Carr’s passes have been dropped through five games and that is about a third of the rate we’re used to seeing from Raider receivers in the past.

Best Yet to Come?

Quarterbacks stats are always a reflection of more than just the quarterback, but one of the narratives that has followed Carr throughout this career is the idea that he can’t hold up without an elite offensive line. Certainly Carr has benefitted from some great offensive line units with the Raiders, but it’s worth noting that in 2020 that hasn’t necessarily been the case.

Injures to Trent Brown and Richie Incognito have contributed to a Pro Football Focus grade that ranks the Raiders offensive line behind 20 teams in terms of pass blocking (and they rank 24th in run blocking) this year.

Now that Henry Ruggs III and Brown are healthy and Incognito is expected to return after the bye, how good can the Raider offense be if they can stay healthy for the final 11 games of the year?

twitter: @raidersbeat


21 thoughts on “Advanced Stats Make The Case That Derek Carr Has Been an Elite Quarterback in 2020

  1. I still say and would correct in saying Carr leaves a few big plays out on the field. He’s quick to check down pass…doesn’t seem to let the down field play develop.

    1. You would not be correct. You’re letting your bias display your lack of football knowledge. & this may be difficult, but if you don’t know the progression (& unless you’re sitting in the QB room, you don’t), don’t talk about check downs.

    2. Watch the episode of Grudens QB camp-Connor Cook and you will know exactly why he checks down so much.

    3. He is being coached to do that. If you keep going after the deep ball then you also expose your qb.they are still developing the young relievers.

    4. I get the gripe but that’s the West Coast offense that Gruden wants. Look back at the Gannon days, same thing. What I find interesting this season is when they need a TD l at the end of the half Gruden is letting Carr run the drive and they have gotten a TD every time I believe. Also if we watch, I think all the big plays Carr has audibled to from another play. You could see him explaining it to Gruden on the Ruggs TD. Carr is holding guys accountable this year like a coach, not their friend and I. Turn he is finally making the players around him better because of it.

    5. I kind of agree. . .while Carr is quick to check down (since his big injury in 2016), it’s also the nature of Gruden’s offense. It’s an offense that runs on the premise that you can’t get behind the sticks. So while I would love to see Carr hold on to the ball for a second or two longer and keep his eyes downfield, especially with the deep threats we have now, I also understand that the offense requires Carr to be efficient and somewhat boring by making the 4-7 yard “checkdown”.

    6. Every QB leaves big plays out on the field. No QB is gonna be perfect and see everything out on the field.

  2. Good stuff, but pff is trash. The Raiders are the 7th highest scoring team, but pff says, Carr. hHudson, Miller, Jacobs & Waller are all outside the top-10 of their positions. They have Miller as the 47th rated OT. That’s absurd. Sorry, just wanted to bash pff for their obvious anti-Raider bias.

  3. Perhaps the biggest problem that Derek Carr has had in his career with the Raiders has been complimentary players. Whether that has been the case or not one thing is for sure. Derek Carr has absolutely matured in his seven years with the Raiders. Maybe the combination of his growth and better players makes this his time. The same thing happened with Drew Brees and everybody gets their turn in life. Maybe, just maybe, NOW is Derek Carr’s turn. Let us hope for his and Raider Nation’s sake.

  4. About the “check down” critics: most of those are designed short passes. That’s Gruden’s offensive philosophy: power running game, short passes to move the chains just enough for another first down. Control the clock and don’t let the other team have the ball. It’s all a sophisticated version of ‘keep away’. That’s not Carr’s style-if you go back to his college days or even earlier in his pro career, especially under Bill Musgrave, Carr was a gun-slinger. The additional benefit of a steady diet of short passes is that it lulls the opposing defense into defending up close, setting up the opportunity to go deep and catch them off-guard later. If you don’t like short passes you better find a different head coach for the Raiders or find a different team.

    Nice article on Derek Carr’s performance the last two years. He has benefitted from consistency at the head coach position, offensive coordinator/philosophy consistency, better receivers, a viable running game and a coach who really understands quarterbacks and what he wants from them. Derek is also extremely smart, marvelous at reading the defense before the snap and changing the play if needed, making quick decisions and getting the ball out fast.

    Now if only the defense can gel and progress…

  5. OM-EFFIN-G. He had ONE GOOD GAME and you’re talking about “Elite”!? FFS!! Every REAL Raider fan knows that he about as consistent as someone “going to the gym” as their “new years resolution”. Gimme a break. We’ll lose the next 2, at least, after our bye.

    1. What kind of fan are you. Maybe your a loser and should go and pick another team. Your a Dipshit.

  6. He definitely is capable of being an elite quarterback… he still has to win some games in the cold… and he needs to once again develop some consistency during a entire season like he did in 2016. I just don’t want to deal with him laying a goose egg towards the end of the year during games we should win! I believe his talent and potential are limitless

  7. Give Carr time to trust these new guys which he is doing more each passing week and just sit back and watch the magic happen.

  8. The game against KC was the first time in years that I remember was not the boring checkdown guy

  9. How about his history concerning wins, cold weather wins and playoff wins. Sure so far he is having a great year, but he still is WAY below .500 in wins and yet to win in the cold or playoffs. Let’s wait and see how he does the rest of the season.

  10. Man I can’t believe the real rAider fan comment REAL RAIDER fan would never say there gonna lose next two games . F n retarded sounds like a 9er fan. Carr is the **** receivers are catching the balls now unlike before . RAIDER NATION BABY FOR ALL THE REAL RAIDER FANS!

    1. A bunch of DC dick riders. Get over it. What kind of fans are you? Commitment to excellence. Not mediocrity. DC is not the guy. How many more times do you want to give this guy a pass. He doesn’t have talent and in the same breath mention how great the o line is how great his RB is, his TE, we have decent WR. For all you high level IQ fans it’s crazy what you don’t see. All you stat nerds don’t see intangibles. He doesn’t have what it takes to become elite. Elite QBs make it happen, keep the stats give me Ws. DC gives a lot of lip service. I’m tired of you fake fans. Go jump on the browns so you can drown in obscurity and “loyalty”

  11. I also have the complaint that Carr checks down too much. But he is doing it measurably less this year so far. Though I wish he would go deep more often, it’s an important stat is that he has a 148.3 QB rating when he throws 20+ yards downfield…that’s the highest in the league. I think as the receivers mature and they gel even more, the frequency may go up. But I’m of a mind to be patient rather than want him to be frivolous. Remember, higher reward plays are also higher risk.

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