Derek Carr comes under constant criticism, and he will of course get a lot of the credit – or blame – for what happens this Sunday, when the Raiders play the Broncos in Denver with a slim chance of a trip to the playoffs on the line.
In some games, Carr looks brilliant. In others, suspect. Some believe this will be Carr’s final season with the Raiders since joining them in 2014 as a second-round pick.
Yet Carr has had perhaps his best season in 2019, and he has pointed his career back on an upward arc since Jon Gruden became head coach after the 2017 season.
Gruden – despite rumors that he and general manager will trade Carr and draft a young quarterback this spring – continues to sound like a fan.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together,” Gruden told reporters this week. “He’s done a lot of good things. I know there’s a lot of swirling reports out there (of disharmony), but Derek’s done a great job. He’s done a heck of a job for us.”
Barring a complete disaster against the Broncos, Carr will set several career-best marks this season in leading his team to at least seven wins, the franchise’s best total since Carr guided the team to 12 wins in 2016.
Carr will set career bests in completion percentage (71.1% so far), yards per passing attempt (7.8) and quarterback rating (101.1). He’s also thrown just eight interceptions in 467 attempts and has an outside shot of going over 4,000 yards passing for just the second time.
He’s also playing a Broncos team that he helped beat, 26-22, in the season opener by completing 22-of-26 throws for 259 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He had a QB rating of 121.0 that day, his second-best mark of the year.
Sunday’s game won’t be easy, however. The 6-9 Broncos have a solid defense, ranked No. 10 in the NFL. Carr and the 7-8 Raiders will have to earn a victory – then hope for help from several other teams to get into the postseason.
Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.