Two things at this point are true: 1.) Derek Carr has been around for a long time as a starting quarterback, and 2.) Derek Carr doesn’t win that much.
If those statement really don’t compute all that well for you, you’re not alone. The number of quarterbacks who have earned as much of a runway as a starting quarterback in the National Football League is little when you also factor in how much those quarterbacks have won or lost. Somehow Carr has put together a much longer-than-average career in spite of the greater results.
Typically a quarterback is saddled with the blame or glory for wins or losses, almost to a ridiculous degree. A quarterback is only one person and he’s operating within a set of confines such as coaching scheme, overall talent, etc. A quarterback, for example, might not able to make up for a miserable defense on his team (e.g. Patrick Mahomes in 2018). From poor coaching decisions to poor organizational culture to a lack of offensive line (e.g. Derek’s own brother, David), there are numerous reasons why quarterbacks don’t make it.
Somehow, however, Carr has proved to be the exception.
Derek Carr is a Teflon-coated quarterback who never gets blamed for his team’s lack of success.
On Sunday, Carr will make his 119th start of his NFL career against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. To date, he’s won 52 games as a quarterback in the NFL while losing 66 of them. The Raiders are in second place in the AFC West this season at 5-3 and were riding in first for some time, but the season is beginning to crater underneath the Raiders with the drama surrounding former head coach Jon Gruden to go with the release of Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette.
In seven full seasons, Carr has only one year in which the Raiders finished better than .500 in the standings—back when they had 12 wins in 2016. For the sake of his starting status, he has to hope the Raiders are well on their way to another.
But here’s the thing: Carr has already been given plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. The only quarterbacks in NFL history with as many or more starts with so few wins are the following:
That’s it. That’s the best comparisons for Carr in terms of longevity and success in NFL history, which is not exactly the sort of company you want on such a graph.
Snead was a draft pick by Washington back in 1961 who was somehow still starting games in 1975, and he was even a four-time Pro Bowler, but he led the NFL in interceptions four times and had only five total seasons in which he had more touchdowns than turnovers. Manning is famous for being the father of Hall of Fame sons but he went 35-101-3 as a starting quarterback in the ’70s and early ’80s, mostly with the New Orleans Saints.
George is a great example of a quarterback being saddled by organizational incompetence around him (and he didn’t help by constantly fighting with everyone) and he won only 46 games in 124 starts, mostly for the Colts in the 1990s. Kitna was the very definition of a league-average quarterback for the likes of the Seahawks, Bengals, and Lions from 1997 to 2011 and was most famous for getting sacked an incredible 63 times in ’06.
Somehow Carr looks like he’s going to be safe for the rest of this year, and given the turbulence for the Raiders off the field, he might even get another free pass for next season. He’s already the anomaly, a teflon-coated quarterback who somehow avoids taking the blame for the Raiders’ lack of success since he took over.