By John Newby
All week long, countless questions surrounded Derek Carr about his toughness and his relationship with the Raiders roster. There were even moments in which analysts discussed how a trade could be made for the talented quarterback. The situation grew to the point that Carr had to post a message on Twitter about his love of Oakland.
“I’m a Raider. It’s not a ‘popular’ thing to be a Raider right now, but I am and I love it,” Carr wrote on Twitter. “I love the struggle of trying to fight back for our city when not a lot of people believe in us. People can try all they want to tear us apart, but it’s not happening to the real ones.”
Well, Carr put the questions to bed against the Colts on Sunday, leading four scoring drives and finding Seth Roberts, Jared Cook, and Brandon LaFell in the end zone. The fifth-year quarterback even added a rushing touchdown of his own, the first of his career. Carr was extremely effective against the Colts defense, to the point that he even moved up in the Raiders record books after throwing this touchdown to LaFell.
Coming into the game, Carr was fourth in franchise history in career passing yards, sitting at 16,473. He was only 182 yards behind Daryle Lamonica (16,655), who played from 1967-1974. He completed 17 of his first 20 passes, reaching 213 yards through the air and moving ahead of Lamonica for third all-time. He continued to put up yards against this Colts defense in a losing effort, finishing 21-28 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. This pushed his career total to 16,717 yards.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, Carr took the starting job from journeyman Matt Schaub with a strong preseason performance. He started all 16 games of his rookie season while throwing for 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Carr also became the first Raiders quarterback to start all 16 games in a season since Rich Gannon back in 2002.
Carr continued to make key plays for the Raiders, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015 as an alternate and leading his team to a 12-4 record in 2016. He also earned a second Pro Bowl nod for his play after throwing for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. Unfortunately for Carr, his promising season ended in week 16 after he suffered a broken fibula against the Colts. This injury forced him to miss the season finale as well as the wild-card loss to the Houston Texans.
He returned to the starting lineup in 2017 looking to get the Raiders back to the postseason, but the dream didn’t ultimately pan out. Carr struggled at times during the season, only throwing for 22 touchdowns while increasing his interception total to 13. He still earned another Pro Bowl nod as an alternative to Tom Brady, but the Raiders finished 6-10. Owner Mark Davis fired Jack Del Rio after the season and opened the door for Jon Gruden’s return.
Carr hasn’t exactly enjoyed a career year in 2018 as the Raiders have struggled to compete in most games while trading away multiple players. Coming into this week 8 matchup against the Colts, Carr had completed 71.7% of his passes for 1,783 yards, seven touchdowns, and eight interceptions. However, this game against the Colts seemed to be a turning point for the Raiders quarterback as he played very well and avoided throwing an interception.
Now that Carr is third in franchise history, he can set his sights on overtaking Rich Gannon, the last quarterback to take the Raiders to a Super Bowl. Gannon has 17,585 yards with the Raiders, placing him only 868 yards ahead of Carr. Oakland has nine more games in the season, so Carr should realistically overtake Gannon for second all-time.