Before this season, Derek Carr signed a contract extension with the Raiders for $125 million over five years. It was a huge reward for a quarterback who had shown in 2016 that he was among the NFL’s best.
Yet in 2017, Carr isn’t the player he was a year ago. Maybe it has been the accumulation of injuries over the past two seasons: a finger dislocation on his passing hand, a broken fibula at the end of 2016 or the back injury earlier this year. Or, maybe it was the change in offensive coordinators.
Whatever the reason, Carr’s stats are way down, and he hasn’t been able to come up with the clutch plays at the end of games to pull out victories the way he did in 2016.
With two games remaining this season – including Monday’s Christmas night game against the Eagles in Philadelphia – Carr says he knows he’s taken a step back and will work to get back on track for 2018.
“I use it all to just fuel the fire,” Carr told reporters Thursday. “There’s been things that I’ve gone through this year that I’ve never been through and I’m learning how to deal with those things and not just deal with them, but execute them at a high level. So I absolutely 100 percent believe that going forward, again, this time next year we’re standing here I’ll feel like, man because I trust my work ethic, that I’m a better player this year because of what I went through.”
Carr certainly seems to continue to have the respect of his teammates and players around the NFL. Earlier this week, he was selected as the Raiders recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, presented annually to a player on every team who “exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.”
The Eagles, at 12-2, will certainly present a huge challenge for Carr and the Raiders, who need to win their final two games and then hope for a series of things to miraculously fall into place for them to earn a wild-card playoff spot.
Philadelphia ranks No. 3 overall in total offense, with 386.9 yards per game, and moves the ball even with backup QB Nick Foles (replacing Carson Wentz, who is out for the remainder of the year). Defensively, the Eagles are 6th in the league, allowing 309.2 yards a game.
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. Oddsmakers have made the Raiders 9-point underdogs.