In five games this season, Derek Carr has no 300-yard passing games. He’s surpassed 200 yards just three times, and is averaging just 223.4 yards per game.
In this pass-first era of the NFL, that puts Carr 24th in the league in yards, and almost 1,000 yards behind the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes.
And yet, Carr may be having his best season.
He leads the NFL with a 73.3 percent completion rate, has thrown just three interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 96.7, far above his career mark of 89.2.
As Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback noted Monday, Carr is on track for career highs in completion percentage and QB rating, while also leading his team to a 3-2 record, good for second place in the AFC West.
And, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says Carr now knows his offense inside and out and is doing a terrific job making adjustments before the snap to make the running and passing games more efficient.
"He’s moving our team," said Gruden this past week, with the Raiders in their bye week. "Some of the things that are happening in the running game, he gets a lot of credit for. We’re not running into uphill looks. He’s doing a lot of recognition at the line of scrimmage."
Carr also is getting his passes off quickly. He’s taken just eight sacks in five games, a pace that would give him 26 in 2019. In 2018, he was sacked a career-worst 51 times. The offensive line, of course, is doing a much better job of protection, with the addition of guard Richie Incognito, tackle Trent Brown and the better health of tackle Kolton Miller. But, Carr is working toward being more efficient, too, and that means avoiding sacks.
Plus, as Breer noted, Carr is playing well, even with a rotating cast at wide receiver.
Carr has been fine with leaning on his running game, using emerging tight end Darren Waller and not having to throw for 300 yards every Sunday.
The Raiders return to action Sunday at Green Bay against the 4-1 Packers. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.