I’ve seen a lot of divided opinion about Derek Carr, whose benching could spell the end of his Raiders career.
They range from…he could be a top 10 QB who’s been held back by the Raiders defense his entire career…to…he’s an average QB who’s been good this season since the Davante Adams acquisition bad.
Maybe there’s a grain of truth to all of this. One of the first things that comes to mind is that he’s been a good quarterback on a bad team for almost a decade. It kind of reminds me of Matthew Stafford’s tenure with the Lions in a way. So is it possible that Carr could leave the Raiders and follow in Stafford’s footsteps?
Here I check the pro and con case:
The rationale for this comparison builds on the striking similarities between Stafford’s time with the Lions and Carr’s time with the Raiders.
Both are franchise leaders
Both are the all-time passing leaders of their respective franchises. Stafford is the Lions’ all-time leader in touchdown passes, as are Carr and the Raiders in nearly every other category.
0 playoff wins/division titles
Even though their team has amassed stats over roughly a decade, they have neither won the playoffs nor won a division title with their original team. Stafford is 0-3 in the playoffs against Detroit, which has been consistently relegated to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the division.
Carr is 0-1 in the playoffs against Las Vegas, which had to contend with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West.
Worst defense in the NFL
The Lions and Raiders have two of the worst quarterback defenses in the league. From 2009 to 2020, Detroit ranked second in defensive rating behind Stafford. The Raiders have the worst scoring defense in the NFL since Carr was drafted in 2014. In fact, Carr is the least supported quarterback in NFL history in terms of scoring defense. The Raiders had 26.1 PPG in his starts, the worst of any starting quarterback ever (with at least 100 starts).
They’ll also continue one of my favorite trends in the sport this year — 2022 will be the 20th straight season the Raiders rank in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense, the longest streak of that kind since the NFL started in 1970. For the record – AFL merger.
Most NFL Losses
Bad defense will let you do that. Carr has the most losses of any quarterback since entering the league. Stafford had the second-most losses of any QB during his Lions career (2009-20).
Both lead NFL comeback in fourth quarter
Stafford and Carr have been well-suited for thrilling comebacks thanks to productive careers and a defense that rarely gets them ahead. Stafford led the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks in his Lions career, and Carr tops the Raiders in that category.
Stafford is a better overall quarterback than Carr
Stafford was the No. 1 pick in 2009 and Carr was the second-round pick in 2014. Stafford has more arm talent, enough for the Rams to be willing to hand over two first-round picks to acquire him (and offload Jared Goff’s contract) in 2021. I doubt Carr’s price will be anywhere near that level.
Coaches and executives around the league will agree that Stafford is better than Carr, but not by much.
Stafford ranks slightly above Carr in The Athletic’s Mike Sando’s 2021 and 2022 QB Tiers article. These levels are the result of a poll of general managers, coaches and executives across the league.
Stafford also ranks No. 6 in ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler’s top 10 QB rankings for 2021 and 2022, based on a survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches and scouts. Carl won honorable mentions both years, but didn’t finish in the top 10.
The numbers will also match. Carr has never ranked higher than 10th in ESPN’s overall QBR in nine seasons with the Raiders. His average rank is 19th. Stafford ranks 15th in the Lions’ average QBR and finished in the top eight in three of his last five seasons in Detroit.
This offseason proved Stafford’s blueprint isn’t easy to follow
After Tom Brady won the Super Bowl in 2020 and Matthew Stafford won the Super Bowl in 2021, acquiring a veteran quarterback is the hot new blueprint this offseason. Russell Wilson, Matt Lane, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield are proving it’s not going to be easy. To repeat the same mistakes, teams may not be willing to make big investments in someone like Carr this offseason. .
Carr may not find footing like Rams
Stafford was considered an upgrade over Goff when he signed with the Rams, who lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII two years later. Los Angeles has a No. 1 defense and Cooper Kupp, among other attractive pieces. Among logical landing spots, I’m not sure Carr has a destination in 2023, though Jets defensemen Bliss Hall and Garrett Wilson are probably the closest options.
Add it all up, and like their respective careers with the Lions and Raiders, it will take a lot of time for the stars to align for Carr the way they did for Stafford. How they leave each franchise will also be different. Still, I think a lot of people will argue for a better environment for Carr after a decade with the Raiders.