The Las Vegas Raiders and their fans have a lot to look forward to this season.
Although many are picking the Los Angeles Chargers to win the AFC West, some feel the Raiders could be destined for that designation.
It will ultimately fall upon the shoulders of quarterback Derek Carr, who has raised his game in recent years and could see another bump in his production by virtue of having Adams on his side.
But is Carr an elite QB who is capable of leading the Raiders on a sincere run at a Super Bowl championship?
Where Carr Ranked Last Season
There is no doubt that Carr, a native of Central California, is a very good signal-caller.
Carr also ranked fifth in pass completion percentage, and he had the second-most game-winning drives in the league with six.
Behind his leadership, the Raiders won a riveting season-finale versus the Chargers to reach the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, where they lost to Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round, 26-19.
Las Vegas certainly had enough confidence in Carr to give him a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension in April.
The Knocks Against Carr
However, the Fresno State University product has come up short in some critical areas.
He threw for just 23 touchdowns in 2021, which was just 13th in the NFL, and he had the sixth-most interceptions with 14.
Although he has put up strong numbers for most of his eight-year career, this past season was the first time he appeared in the playoffs (the Raiders made it there in 2016, but he couldn’t play due to a fractured fibula).
In that playoff contest against Cincinnati, Carr went just 29-of-54, and while he threw a touchdown, he also threw an interception, was sacked three times and posted a passer rating of just 69.2.
Derek Carr strip sacked by the Bengals! pic.twitter.com/cVeEwP6bPN
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) January 15, 2022
Even worse, that interception came with 17 seconds left while on the Bengals’ nine-yard line.
4th and goal
Derek Carr throws it short of the end zone and it gets picked off 🤷♂️
The Bengals win their first playoff game in 31 years!
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) January 16, 2022
Some may want to dismiss Carr’s poor outing because it was his first-ever postseason game or because the Raiders just weren’t a very good team, but elite QBs don’t often play so poorly in their playoff debut.
But the reality is that Carr hadn’t performed well all season long in crunch time, at least in some respects.
The game-sealing INT was #Raiders QB Derek Carr's 9th turnover in the 4th quarter/OT this season including playoffs. That's the most by any player in the NFL. Entering the day, Carr was tied with Trevor Lawrence for the most in the league, per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) January 16, 2022
After making the Pro Bowl three straight times early in his career, he hasn’t gotten such a nod since 2017, even though his statistical production has gotten better.
As of now, Carr clearly isn’t an elite QB, and if one wants to argue that he actually is, keep in mind that superlatives such as “elite” shouldn’t be thrown around loosely.
No Excuses This Year
With perhaps the best wideout on his side, as well as a quickly improving Hunter Renfrow, Carr won’t have any excuses this season to prove he is truly worthy of being considered one of the top-tier QBs in football.
People can point to concerns about the Raiders’ offensive line, which are seemingly legitimate, but if Carr doesn’t up his production this year, he simply cannot be considered elite no matter what.