The Las Vegas Raiders have high hopes, and Derek Carr needs to drive them into reality.
Derek Carr doesn’t need to be good in 2020. He needs to be great. He needs to be the 2016 version of himself.
Statistically, Carr had the best season of his career in 2019. He threw for 4,054 yards on 7.9 yard per attempt, and completed 70 percent of his passes, all personal highs. He also limited himself to eight turnovers. The problem? Carr only found the end zone 21 times.
Far too often, Carr was willing to check down to avoid the big mistake. Now, even at the risk of more errors, the veteran needs to take shots deep surrounded by the most-talented cast he’s ever had.
Derek Carr needs to be a star for the Raiders in 2020
Carr has a tremendous stable of weapons in tight end Darren Waller, running back Josh Jacobs and receivers Hunter Renfrow, Tyrell Williams and first-round pick Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs profiles as an elite deep threat, and one Carr should be finding early and often.
Considering the Las Vegas defense is still going through a significant rebuild and may yield a lot of points, Carr needs to be aggressive. The Raiders’ offense has to drive the narrative of each game, giving the more-vulnerable defense a chance to play from in front.
If Las Vegas is going to fight for one of the seven AFC playoff spots, it starts with being more competitive in the AFC West. Last year, the Raiders were trounced twice by the Kansas City Chiefs, losing by the total of 68-19. In his career, Carr has only defeated Kansas City twice, and both times came in the final minute.
Las Vegas probably doesn’t have enough talent to compete with the Chiefs in the division, but earning a split would do wonders for its wild card chances.
So what stat line would work well for Carr? His numbers from last year are a fine start, especially in the YPA and completion percentage departments.
The real improvement needs to come from the touchdown percentage. In 2019, only 4.1 percent of Carr’s attempts went for scores. The figure ranked 22nd. If Carr can improve by one percent, it gets him in the top 12.
The Raiders have more talent than they did a year ago. Now it’s time for their quarterback, in the prime of his career, to ascend with it.