Quarterback: Derek Carr. As I wrote last year, my annual summer traditions include golf, fireworks (long after the Fourth of July holiday has passed) and defending Derek Carr to Raiders fans who want to pretend that he isn’t an elite quarterback. It’s like listening to alleged Star Wars fans bash Kenobi and other Star Wars ventures over the years. At some point, you need to just let them be angry as you go and enjoy your show.
Carr ranked fifth in the NFL in 2021 with a career-high 4,804 passing yards. He’s clutch, having authored six game-winning drives last season — and he’s tied with Matthew Stafford for the most game-winning drives in the league (30) since he entered the pros in 2014. He’s also unflapable, throwing for 1,438 yards when blitzed last season (tops in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats), while additionally posting a 9:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 103.3 passer rating in this environment. Yes, Carr’s numbers dipped in the latter portion of the season. In Weeks 1-7, Carr threw for 324.1 yards per game, with a 12:5 TD-to-INT ratio and 101.2 passer rating; the rest of the way, he put up 253.5 per contest, with a TD-to-INT ratio of 11:9 and a passer rating of 88.6. Notably, Week 7 was also Carr’s last game with Ruggs on the roster. These numbers are encouraging when you consider a certain upgrade made to the receiving corps that we’ll discuss in a bit.
Projected 2022 MVP: Carr. Yeah, he’s going to be a candidate for league MVP, as well.