Derek Carr Must Make Major Strides for the Raiders to Be Relevant Again

Derek Carr landed in a perfect situation last year.

No, the Oakland Raiders didn't have 10 All-Pro players sharing the field with him or a dominant defense with a brilliant supporting cast to alleviate the pressure on him. Instead, he had no expectations to meet on a team that would keep him out of the spotlight.

Carr had no expectations for a couple of reasons. For one, he wasn't a first-round pick. He went in the second round and wasn't expected to start ahead of Matt Schaub during his rookie season. Carr took Schaub's job, but it appeared to be more of a reflection of Schaub's decline than Carr's ascension.

As somewhat of a surprise starter on what was considered one of the worst teams in the NFL, it wouldn't have surprised anyone if Carr completely collapsed during the initial stages of his career.

If he did, it likely wouldn't even be held against him moving forward. Any struggles that Carr had could be brushed aside under the guise of his lack of wide receiver talent, a no-name offensive line, no running game or an offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, who was overly cautious with his approach.

Each of those elements had a legitimate impact on his output last season. Of course they did; context is always important. However, it can also be overstated.

While starting all 16 regular-season games, Carr completed 348 of 599 pass attempts (58.1 percent) for 3,270 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In the context of being a rookie starter, those numbers are impressive. Most rookie quarterbacks are turnover-prone as they adjust to the NFL. Carr's 12 interceptions suggest he wasn't.

"Suggest" being the key word there.

Carr was turnover-prone. He was among the most turnover-prone passers in the whole league last year. For as much criticism as Carr's supporting cast comes under, Olson did a huge amount to mask the recklessness of his quarterback.

In Olson's of...

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