Gruden Backs Carr as Quarterback’s Critics Again Surface

Two straight under-par performances in Raiders losses have again prompted some trade-Carr speculation

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To be Derek Carr is to be constantly in the media spotlight, having his every game dissected and his performance graded weekly like a stock in the market.

Coming off two straight Raiders losses in which he had a pair of the weakest performances of what may be one of his best pro seasons, Carr again is the subject of speculation this week that he’s not head coach Jon Gruden’s long-term franchise quarterback and could be traded this offseason.

Nick Ellis of the Just Blog Baby website wrote Wednesday morning that, just when it seemed Carr had established himself as Gruden’s chosen one in leading the team to a 6-4 record before consecutive losses to the Jets and Chiefs, “the ‘get rid of Carr’ chants are starting to pop up again.”

As the website Fansided speculated Wednesday morning about the Raiders and Carr, the “partnership might cease to exist sooner rather than later.”  Ricky Gray Jr. of Fansided noted Carr’s struggles against top teams as a reason for possible franchise dissatisfaction.

Yet this season – and Carr’s work – are incomplete. At 6-6, the Raiders still have a path to the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season. If Carr and the Raiders come back strong this Sunday against the Titans and then play well to close out the regular season vs. the Jaguars, Chargers and Broncos, Carr’s critics likely will be quieted once more.

Also, the numbers show Carr has had a fine season, despite recent stumbles.

Carr has completed a career-high 70.6 percent of his throws in 2019 for 2,843 yards and 16 touchdowns vs. only eight interceptions. His quarterback rating of 98.6 is a career high, even better than the 96.7 he posted in 2016 when he was considered an MVP candidate.

And, the analytic website Pro Football Focus this week graded Carr as the NFL’s 13th-best quarterback, with Steve Palazzolo noting he has been very accurate, with the “second-lowest percentage of negatively-graded throws” and has the ninth-best passing grade in the NFL. Yet, Palazzolo echoes other criticism that Carr rarely stretches defenses, with the second-lowest “depth of target” average at 6.9 yards per throw.

Despite some recent blips in Carr’s game, Gruden still sounds like Carr is his man.

This week, Gruden told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group: “(Carr has) performed very well with a lot of moving parts. And if you think that’s easy, then you’re mistaken. I compliment him for his competitiveness, his preparation and his ability to compete each week.”

Carr and the Raiders are set for a 1:25 p.m. kickoff in Oakland Sunday against Tennessee.

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