It's time to put respect on Derek Carr's game.
The Las Vegas Raiders quarterback is balling out, playing at a top-5 level despite most overlooking his production based chiefly on preconceived notions.
During Sunday's 33-22 win over Philadelphia, Carr was sterling, completing 31 of 34 pass attempts for 323 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Mind you, he put up those stats without star tight end and security blanket Darren Waller, who was out due to knee and ankle injuries.
Carr's play has been fabulous this season. Pressure doesn't faze him, and he's dropping several deep dimes each week.
"I'd say he's pretty close to the next level if you're going to go 31-for-34, and you just said he went [91.2%]," interim coach Rich Bisaccia said of Carr, per ESPN. "Again, he's in constant [communication] with [OC] Greg [Olson], and he's so accurate. He can literally go through an entire Wednesday and Thursday practice and there's possible two or three incompletions ... he's got tremendous accuracy. He's got tremendous command of the offense. He knows where everyone is supposed to be. He's the first one in the building and he's the last one to leave.
"His preparation, I've been around a lot of good quarterbacks, but his preparation is second to none. I think he plays like he prepares."
Carr had a career-best 91.2 completion percentage in Sunday's blowout win, which wasn't nearly as close as the final score might indicate. After a first-drive interception, Carr led the Raiders on five straight scoring drives, generating 30 consecutive points, to blow the game open.
Sunday marked Carr's second career game with 30-plus pass attempts and a 90-plus completion percentage (2018 vs. Denver). All other QBs have combined for one such game since 1950, per NFL Research (Drew Brees in 2019 vs. Indianapolis).
Carr set several Next Gen Stats records in Sunday's win (dating to 2016):
- 7-of-7, 169 yds, 1 TD on passes of 10-plus air yds (his 1st game in NGS era with 100 completion percentage and 150+ pass yards on downfield passes)
- A 93.8 completion percent on passes thrown from inside the pocket (NGS era single-game record, min. 30 such att.)
- Generated a 96.2 completion percentage on passes without pressure (NGS record, min. 25 such attempts)
"I just feel like there's not a throw that he can't make, whether it's downfield [or] checking the ball down when he needs to," running back Kenyan Drake said. "When you have a quarterback that's cerebral in terms of dissecting the defense -- understanding pre-snap looks, getting us to the exact play, whether we need to get to a pass, we need to get to a run -- it just makes the game flow so much easier. It's almost like having a coach out there on the field. I enjoy playing with him because he has the ability to just be the guy that you can just rely on ... he's just going to get the job done."
No amount of pressure has flustered Carr, who stands in and delivers on-target throws regardless of what mess is in his face. On Sunday, he went perfect versus the blitz: 6-of-6, 61 yards, 1 TD, 148.6 pass rating. The last two weeks versus the blitz: 13-16, 239 yards, 2 TD, 158.3 pass rating.
It's not just on-field pressure that Carr is making moot. The off-field drama hasn't slowed his play at all. With Olson taking over play-calling for Jon Gruden, Carr's play has only improved. Carr added that ahead of the team's bye, he hadn't had a chance to process Gruden's departure.
"It was literally, Oh, shoot, oh, uh. Next game," he said. "It was kind of weird like that. Again, it wasn't like we were 0-6 and you saw something coming. It was just a surprise. So, I think, with the injuries, with everything our team has been through, this bye week couldn't come at a better time."
Winning has helped keep the QB focused on the field, where the three-time Pro Bowler is enjoying his best season.
"Winning is what makes it fun," Carr said. "But I think the guys are making plays and the expression, the swagger that our guys are showing, is coming out, and it's fun."