Derek Carr benched by Raiders: Can veteran QB follow in Matthew Stafford’s footsteps?

I’ve seen plenty of split opinion on Derek Carr with his benching signaling the potential end to his Raiders career.

They’ve ranged from … he can be a top-10 QB and he’s been held back by the Raiders defense for his entire career … to … he’s an average QB who underperformed this season after the Davante Adams acquisition.

Perhaps there is a little bit of truth in all of that. One of the first things that came to my mind is that he has been a good quarterback for almost a decade with a bad team. It reminds me of Matthew Stafford’s Lions tenure in a way. So is it possible that Carr leaves the Raiders and follows in Stafford’s footsteps?

Here I examine the case for and against:

Case For

The case for this comparison is built on the striking similarities between Stafford’s time with the Lions and Carr’s time with the Raiders.

Both are franchise leaders

Both are those respective franchise’s all-time passing leaders. Stafford is the Lions’ all-time touchdown passes leader, among almost every other category, and the same can be said for Carr with the Raiders.

0 playoff wins/division titles

Despite racking up numbers for their teams for roughly a decade, neither won a playoff game or won a division title with their original teams. Stafford was 0-3 in the postseason with Detroit, which constantly took a back seat to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the division.

Carr is 0-1 in the playoffs with Las Vegas, which had to compete with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West.

Worst defense in the NFL

The Lions and Raiders have two of the worst defenses in the league with those quarterbacks. Detroit had the second-worst scoring defense with Stafford from 2009-2020. The Raiders have the worst scoring defense in the NFL since Carr was drafted in 2014. In fact, Carr is the least supported QB in NFL history in terms of scoring defense. The Raiders have allowed 26.1 PPG in his starts, the worst for any starting QB all time (min. 100 starts).

They are also going to extend one of my favorite trends in the sport this year — 2022 will be the Raiders’ 20th straight season ranking in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense, the longest streak of its kind since the 1970 NFL- AFL merger.

Most losses in the NFL

Bad defense will do this to you. Carr has the most losses of any QB since entering the league. Stafford had the second-most losses of any QB during his Lions career (2009-20).

Both led the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks

Stafford and Carr have always been good for a thrilling comeback thanks to productive careers coupled with defenses that rarely let them run away with a lead. Stafford led the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks during his Lions career and Carr topped the league in that category with the Raiders.

Case Against

Stafford is a better overall QB than Carr

Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 and Carr was a second-round selection in 2014. Stafford has more arm talent, enough so that the Rams were willing to give two first-round picks to acquire him (and offload Jared Goff’s contract) in 2021. I doubt Carr will have a price tag that comes close to that.

Coaches and executives around the league would agree that Stafford is better than Carr, but not by much.

Stafford ranked slightly ahead of Carr in both the 2021 and 2022 annual QB Tiers piece by Mike Sando of The Athletic. The tiers are results from a poll of GMs, coaches and executives throughout the league.

Stafford also ranked sixth in both of ESPN Jeremy Fowler’s top-10 QB rankings in 2021 and 2022, which are derived from a survey of 50-plus league executives, coaches and scouts. Carr was an honorable mention in both years, but did not crack the top 10.

The numbers would agree, too. Carr has never ranked higher than 10th in ESPN’s Total QBR in nine seasons with the Raiders. His average rank was 19th. Stafford’s average QBR rank with the Lions was 15th and he was top eight in three of his last five seasons in Detroit.

This offseason proved the Stafford blueprint is not easy to follow

Acquiring a veteran quarterback was the hot new blueprint this offseason after Tom Brady won a Super Bowl in 2020, and Matthew Stafford won in 2021. The performance of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield have proven that it’s not so easy act to repeat and team’s may not be as willing to make a big investment in a guy like Carr this offseason.

Carr may not find a landing spot like the Rams

When Stafford signed with the Rams he was seen as the missing piece that would be an upgrade over Goff, two years after they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Los Angeles had a No. 1 defense and Cooper Kupp, among other attractive pieces. Among the logical landing spots, I’m not sure there’s a destination quite like that for Carr in 2023, although the Jets with their defense, Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson, might be the closest bet.

Add it all up, and as similar as their careers with the Lions and Raiders have been, respectively, it would take a lot for the stars to align for Carr like they did for Stafford. The circumstances surrounding their departure from each franchise would also be different. Still, I think plenty of people would root for better circumstances for Carr after a decade with the Raiders.

Leave a Comment