Derek Carr by the numbers: Raiders quarterback off to hot start in 2021, surpassing Rich Gannon’s MVP campaign

Derek Carr has been the franchise quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders since he was drafted in 2014, yet the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has had plenty of doubters over the years. Carr has provided the stability at quarterback the Raiders have lacked since Rich Gannon was leading the franchise to deep playoff runs in the early 2000s, but every offseason, there’s talk of whether he’ll be the starting quarterback for the only NFL franchise he’s ever played for.

Carr has a 49-63 record as an NFL quarterback, which isn’t terrible considering the state of the Raiders franchise since the team went to Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season. Prior to Carr’s selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Raiders won 49 games over 10 seasons. One of the worst franchises in the NFL over the last two decades, the Raiders have been competitive with Carr — even making the playoffs in 2016 (the franchise’s only playoff appearance since 2002). 

Carr is off to a hot start as the Raiders have an opportunity to go 3-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002. In this week’s edition of “By The Numbers,” we look at Carr’s hot start and his early-season MVP case — along with his ranking among the quarterbacks in Raiders history. 

NFL passing yards leaders — 2021 season

  1. Derek Carr — 817
  2. Kyler Murray — 689
  3. Patrick Mahomes — 680
  4. Justin Herbert — 675
  5. Tom Brady — 655

NFL completion leaders — 2021 season

  1. Dak Prescott — 65
  2. Jared Goff — 64
  3. Derek Carr — 62
  4. Justin Herbert — 62
  5. Kirk Cousins — 58

NFL attempt leaders — 2021 season

  1. Derek Carr — 93
  2. Jared Goff — 93
  3. Justin Herbert — 88
  4. Tom Brady — 86
  5. Dak Prescott — 85

Carr ranks 21st in completion percentage (66.7%), but keep in mind the season is only two weeks old. He’s tied for ninth in touchdown passes (four), and his 34 first-down passes are tied for third in the league. Carr’s 8.8 yards per attempt also rank in the top 10 (eighth), while his 104.1 passer rating is 13th.

Carr is off to a stronger start than Rich Gannon in his 2002 MVP season for the Raiders, which was also the last time the franchise went to the Super Bowl. Not only did Carr set the franchise record for passing yards (817) in a two-game stretch, but he also broke Gannon’s record from that 2002 season (784). In Gannon’s MVP season, he averaged 308.5 pass yards per game through the first two games (Carr is at 408.5) while throwing three touchdowns to three interceptions (Carr has four touchdowns to one interception). The Raiders — coincidentally — are also off to a 2-0 start. 

Let’s take a look at Carr’s ranks among quarterbacks over the last five years.

Most passing yards (2017-2021) 

  1. Matt Ryan — 18,530
  2. Tom Brady — 18,277
  3. Jared Goff — 17,666
  4. Philip Rivers — 17,607
  5. Kirk Cousins — 16,854
  6. Derek Carr — 16,519

Highest completion percentage (2017-2021)

  1. Drew Brees — 72.84%
  2. Kirk Cousins — 67.95%
  3. Deshaun Watson — 67.85%
  4. Derek Carr — 67.32%
  5. Matt Ryan — 66.46%

Carr is one of just one of six quarterbacks to throw for 20 passing touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in each of the last two years, joining Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Ryan Tannehill. All those quarterbacks have been to the playoffs in each of those years and won playoff games in one of those two seasons — except Carr. 

Carr has the fifth-most passing yards (8,974), fifth-highest completion percentage (68.7%) and 10th-best quarterback rating (101.3) since the start of the 2019 season, but he also has the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (four). Plus, being the quarterback on a team that allowed the second-most points and the third-most penalties over the last two seasons haven’t helped. The Raiders were 15-17 with two late-season collapses for a reason. 

Regardless, Carr continues to play well for the Raiders as he enters his 30s, as he’s the franchise’s all-time passing leader in several categories.

Most passing yards — Raiders history

  1. Derek Carr — 27,713
  2. Ken Stabler — 19,078
  3. Rich Gannon — 17,585
  4. Daryle Lamonica — 16,655
  5. Jim Plunkett — 12,665

Most passing touchdowns — Raiders history

  1. Derek Carr — 174
  2. Ken Stabler — 150
  3. Daryle Lamonica — 148
  4. Rich Gannon — 114
  5. Tom Flores — 92

Highest passer rating — Raiders history 

  1. Derek Carr — 92.4
  2. Rich Gannon — 91.2
  3. Jeff Hostetler — 82.1
  4. Ken Stabler — 80.2
  5. Kerry Collins — 76.1

Carr does not have a playoff victory, or even a playoff start (he missed the Raiders’ playoff game in 2016 with a broken fibula), on his resume, but he has been a stabilizing force during a dark era for a prestigious franchise. (He has missed just two regular-season games in his eight-year career.) Certainly underappreciated around the league, the numbers show Carr is definitely in the top-10 quarterback conversation, as well as one of the best quarterbacks the Raiders have ever had.

Can the Raiders’ defense step it up this season? Will Henry Ruggs break out? Get the CBS Sports app and find out, all from our team of veteran insiders. If you have the app, set the Raiders as your favorite team for even faster updates.

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