I’m a Tom Brady honk, but before we hand him the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award for 2016, we might want to take a look at Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. There’s a long way to go, but Carr merits consideration as it stands now.
In a spectacular performance that lifted his madcap team to a 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay, Carr became the third player in NFL history to pass for at least 500 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in a game, joining Ben Roethlisberger in 2014 and Y.A. Tittle in 1962.
Thriving in his third NFL season, Carr is on a sizzling pace through eight games. If his trend line holds he’ll have 4,642 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only six interceptions after 16 games.
The Raiders are 6-2 overall, their best start since 2002. They’re 5-0 on the road. They’re tied for first place with Denver in the rugged AFC West. And we can’t say enough about Carr’s impact.
The Raiders don’t defend very well, giving up 25.4 points per game (22nd), 410.5 yards per game (31st), and ranking 27th in defensive efficiency.
The Raiders have gotten into frequent jams by running up the NFL’s highest penalty count through eight weeks.
You’d better have a special quarterback to get you out of trouble — and the Raiders are 3-0 this season when committing 16+ penalties in a game.
So if we’re talking about value, where would the Silver & Black be without Carr? In his team’s five road wins, Carr has completed 65 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and one interception.
In the fourth quarter, when it’s a seven-point margin or less between the teams, Carr has five touchdown passes, one pick, and a 107.2 passer rating.
A couple of enlightening stats from ESPN Stats & Info:
— Carr keeps the Raiders in the hunt and usually finds a way to get out of there with a win. Of his 17 touchdown passes this season, Carr has thrown a league-leading 16 when the score is within 8 points.
— Carr is at his bombardier best late in games, leading NFL quarterbacks in Total QBR (93.9) in the final 5 minutes of regulation this season.
Here’s one more for you, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau:
Most TD Passes Through the First 40 Career Games in NFL History:
Dan Marino 90
Kurt Warner 86
Matthew Stafford 74
Carson Palmer 71
Derek Carr 70
Peyton Manning 70
And to think that Carr was the fourth quarterback selected in the 2014 draft, chosen 34th overall — pulled from the board after Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater.
With first place on the line, the Raiders play at Denver on Sunday night. This is an important showcase for Carr, who has a chance to establish his MVP candidacy by taking on a nasty Broncos defense on national TV.
Thanks for reading …