Derek Carr’s tour to prove he’s the best young quarterback in the NFL makes another stop today in Tampa Bay.
He’s already beaten Marcus Mariota — the No. 2 pick in the 2015 Draft — and Blake Bortles, who was the first QB drafted the same year as Carr.
This week, he faces the Buccaneers Jameis Winston, his most formidable challenger for the title of Best Young QB.
Carr has the slight edge through seven weeks, accumulating a 64.4 QBR compared to Winston’s 59.7. The Oakland signal caller also has a higher completion percentage and has thrown six fewer interceptions.
(And Carr doesn’t have the advantage of a game against the San Francisco 49ers on his schedule to boost his stats.)
“He’s impressed us by how quick he gets rid of the ball, how accurate he is — especially outside the numbers,” Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter said about Carr. “Just watching him in his interviews and everything, how he handles himself. It just seems like a guy that’s comfortable knowing that he’s the leader on offense and that he has everybody behind him. He’s playing like a NFL veteran.”
That’s really what stands out about both Carr and Winston: Their ability to quickly take command of an offense and look comfortable at the highest level.
Whether either of them overcome their shoddy defenses is another question, and one that will likely determine the final outcome of this Week 8 matchup.
But for those who prefer to focus on the positives, this game is a dream for the fans of the forward pass.
Sure, having receivers like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Mike Evans on the other side of the ball would be a benefit to most teams in the league. But there are teams that do have significant talent at WR that also struggle to move the ball vertically (the Broncos, Texans and Giants come to mind).
Carr has been a blessing for the Silver and Black as the team maintains an unblemished record on the road. (Fans must hope they don’t feel too much at home in Florida after spending the week there after beating Jacksonville last Sunday.)
Smartly, general manager Reggie McKenzie has quickly assembled a sound offensive unit around Carr. One that allows him to claim a passer rating above 100 when throwing to either Cooper or Crabtree, which is made possible by an offensive line that claims the fourth-highest efficiency when pass blocking in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Carr gets a shot at a defense that’s allowing 26.5 points per game (and, again, that’s WITH the 49ers contributing to the data set), and it’s a disappointment that this game isn’t in primetime. Because with these two offenses, this would be one that would actually reverse the NFL’s ratings problems.