Remember, when Matt Schaub was supposed to be the Raiders’ starting quarterback?
I remember seeing a young Derek Carr perform during a scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys. It never seemed like it was too much for the young professional.
Sure, his feet were happy. He missed some throws, but he had a presence before his first NFL start.
Later that season, Carr received a lot of criticism for throwing the ball to check downs. Some of his top receivers were James Jones and Mychal Rivera. We don’t even need to mention some of the gems on defense and at offensive line.
Fast forward a few years and Carr’s MVP consideration is well documented. I’ve written about it as have many major outlets.
You look at Carr’s second season and we saw the glimpses in the first half. Carr’s performance tailed off at the end of the season as well as the team.
Then, he and the Raiders caught fire again this season.Is it a coincidence that the Raiders have risen with Carr?
Sure, the Raiders can attribute a lot of that success to Carr’s 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. Just look at last week’s victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Carr left the game with a pinky injury and the offense sputtered. Once Carr returned, he helped lead the team to another fourth quarter comeback.
Can this success be attributed to Carr alone?
First, you got to look at Carr’s offensive line. Anyone who watches tape can see Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn bring a nasty presence to the offensive line. Gabe Jackson and Menelik Watson are not too bad themselves. This group usually grades out as one of the best units in the league every week.
Then you got to look at Carr’s receivers. Both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are on track to surpass 1,000 yards. If you’re looking for impact, both players have their moments. Crabtree catches those passes that keep drives alive. Cooper turns those short passes into game changing plays like the touchdown versus Houston.
Don’t forget the other side of the football.
The Raiders defense has not been that good. They are No. 29 in yards per game and gave up the 11th most points this season.
But without Khalil Mack this unit would be much worst. Mack has registered an interception, three forced fumbles and nine sacks. He is tied at No. 6 in the league in sacks.
Even in that game versus the Panthers, Mack became the first player since 2009 to register a sack, forced fumble, interception and touchdown since 2009.
When Mack plays well, the Raiders are noticeably better. However, players like Bruce Irvin and David Amerson have also earned their keep.
Therefore, Derek Carr may become the league’s MVP after this season, but he has a lot of improved play from his teammates to thank as well.
Carr may be the most valuable player on the team tied for the best record in the AFC, but there are other players who could be labeled the Raiders’ MVP too..
Included their head coach Jack Del Rio who reversed the losing culture of Oakland.