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After Being Chewed Up, Spit Out And Scapegoated By Egomaniac Josh McDaniels, Here Are Derek Carr's Best Team Fits For 2023

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LOL. Derek Carr really did the full-on SpongeBob meme at Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders upon learning he'd be benched for the remainder of the season.

Giphy Images.

What is it with SpongeBob and AFC West quarterbacks lately? Strange.

Anyway, it's pretty clear the uniquely tailored Erhardt-Perkins system McDaniels brought from New England — the only place it's worked for him, with the best QB of all-time and YEARS of continuity — to Las Vegas flat-out didn't click with Derek Carr. 

For four previous years at least, we saw Carr thrive in a West Coast offense, as he completed passes at a high 60% clip and had 90 TDs to 41 INTs. Despite bad defenses, worse draft classes and inconsistent rushing attacks to complement him throughout his Raiders tenure, not to mention the lackluster WR1s and the utter chaos that was Jon Gruden's second Raiders stint, Carr fared reasonably well. Now, he's being shelved in favor of one of McDaniels’ GUYS from New England, Jarrett Stidham. Who, you know, blows at football.

ICYMI, back in November I submitted a comprehensive defense of Derek Carr.

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HIGHLY polarizing but a surprising amount of Raiders fans reached out to me and supported the vast majority of what I said. Not the negative cesspool of predominant hatred I expected.

That whole thing was in response to Reags, who is emphatically NOT in Derek Carr's corner. And that's OK. I'm not like, in love with the guy. I just think he's a top-13 quarterback in the NFL (to update the rankings I featured in that above blog, Trevor Lawrence has now moved leaps and bounds past Carr).

Reags is now taking a victory lap and rightfully so. That’s how these things go. Bottom line is, Carr failed this year despite having the NFL’s leading rusher, Josh Jacobs. Sure, critical weapons like Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller have missed most of the season, leaving Carr’s second-best option to be…Mack Hollins…? 

Nevertheless, there’s no way around it: Carr hasn’t played well down the stretch. He isn't at all blameless for the Raiders' shortcomings in 2022. On pure merit, in a vacuum, there’s an argument to bench him. Just not for Jarrett Stidham, he who owns a 52.8 career passer rating. Hard to be more pathetic than that.

I’m inclined to believe Carr didn’t just suddenly forget how to play football, and that McDaniels has him totally in his own head because of how obnoxiously complex his scheme is. 

Do I particularly like Emmanuel Acho from afar? No not really, seems like something’s a little off and phony about him and he explains shit really oddly. Did he have one of the worst takes of all-time about Justin Herbert being a “social media” quarterback and using that "clever" label as the reason why Herbert is inferior to Tua? Yes. Yes he did. Does that mean every single hot-fire take he puts out into the ether is totally negligible? You’ll be surprised to learn given how the Internet is these days: NO! Case in point, Acho hammers McDaniels here and is in the right, in my opinion:

Dan Orlovsky knows a little ball, too:

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It’s gonna be just fine and OK if you disagree. Chill out.

Benching Carr is obviously chiefly financially motivated — how about three adverbs in a row! — as his salary for next year is only guaranteed in the event of an injury. That said, with faint-but-possible playoff chances still alive, the move threatens to alienate Davante Adams, who came to Vegas specifically to play with Carr. 

Maybe Davante Adams is a fucking idiotic moron who doesn’t know football and maybe I am too for believing in Derek Carr even a little, but last I checked, Davante one of the best players in the sport and probably has a whiff of an idea of what good quarterback play looks like. He wouldn’t just up and leave Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay if he thought he was going to play for a shitty-ass QB.

Davante called McDaniels’ offense "the most complex" he’s ever been in before the season. My question, among many: Is it complex for complexity's sake?

Isn’t it a not-so-great sign if a veteran as productive and decorated as Davante is calling out your scheme and having trouble keeping up to speed? Why make it so fucking hard, Josh McDaniels? You do realize how good Davante was in the West Coast-style Matt LaFleur scheme for the Packers, right? McDaniels just can’t shake the Patriot Way out of his system. It’s that classic cliché of “players, not plays” that McDaniels stubbornly refuses to adhere to. Given his track record of raging success with the Patriots, I can see why McDaniels believes he’s indefatigable and beyond reproach. Alas…

So what’s next for Derek Carr, you ask? IDK. Say whatever you want about him. If you're a "WINS ARE A QB STAT" person, it looks ugly:

When you dig even a little deeper, maybe…just maybe…there's a little more to it. But what do I know?

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Let’s look at Carr's best next destinations, because I think he can really bounce back and shut everyone the fuck up.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We could very well see Tom Brady and Derek Carr swap teams in 2023. I feel like TB12 is the only guy who could go into McDaniels’ system in Vegas and make it work. The coach doesn’t have the fucking patience for anyone else’s shit. Brady doesn’t have the patience for any noobs at this point in his career either. It makes a lot of sense in the wake of Carr’s benching and given how awful Brady’s third season in Tampa has gone.

The Bucs still have an excellent roster, will have a much healthier o-line in 2023 and have generally crushed the draft under GM Jason Licht. Get the band back together for one last ride with Carr at the controls in a gettable NFC South. At the very least Carr could be an excellent bridge option for a couple years so that Tampa doesn’t have to reach for a QB like Anthony Richardson in the draft, or they could select some raw prospect like him and have him firmly riding the bench behind Carr until he’s ready.

My hesitation here, despite how cool it'd be for Carr to throw to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Co., is the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff. Hard to imagine Bruce Arians' hand-picked successor Todd Bowles will get fired, yet you never know. Additionally, it seems like much of Bucs Nation is calling for Byron Leftwich to be ousted. Seems like he and Brady do not see eye to eye. Leftwich descends from the Arians "no risk-it, no biscuit" philosophy, whereas TB12 is accustomed to McDaniels' highly refined, particular and meticulous offense.

2. Atlanta Falcons

I ran through a quick mock draft for Atlanta and landed them a legit speed demon in Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt on Day 2. Put him in the Falcons’ group of weapons alongside rising sophomore wideout Drake London and Kyle Pitts, and you’re really cooking. Any legit deep threat, really, would be welcome.

Arthur Smith already has the running game going. As long as Atlanta spends the appropriate resources on defense — namely upgrading their perpetually anemic pass rush — and upgrades at QB, they’re in excellent position to contend in the NFC South next year. Carr represents an upgrade over Marcus Mariota/Desmond Ridder and would welcome a change of scenery following so many years of mess with the Raiders. 

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Not that the Falcons have been a shining beacon of greatness lately. They’re not the same since blowing that 28-3 Super Bowl lead. However, they’re on the precipice of catapulting to the front of their division if they, you know, make a reasonable upgrade from Mariota/Ridder in 2023 and rank, say, top-20 in sacks.

Look at the zany stuff Smith is resorting to given his QB situation:

1. New York Jets

While Gang Green seems like a more obvious landing spot for Jimmy Garoppolo given his history with Jets play-caller Mike LaFleur, I feel like Carr is a slightly better pure thrower of the ball than Jimmy G. The West Coast system is a great fit for Carr, who’d have some really good young skill players at his disposal in Garrett WIlson and Elijah Moore, along with Breece Hall in the backfield once he’s back from a torn ACL.

The Jets also have something that Carr hasn’t had the luxury of for most of his entire career. An actual quality defense. Robert Saleh has those guys balling the hell out. All they need is a decent game manager to steer the ship on offense. That’s where Carr could come in and do really well.

Honorable mentions:

  • Washington Commanders - Too toxic of an organizational culture. I think Carr would be having deja vu too often in Washington in that context. The amount of pass-catchers and Ron Rivera’s stabilizing presence could sway him, however.
  • Indianapolis Colts - How many one-year stopgap quarterback options can GM Chris Ballard survive? Feels like Indy is jinxed at the position since Andrew Luck’s retirement. It’d be a stay-away for me if I were Carr.
  • San Francisco 49ers - They’ll either roll with Trey Lance, retain Jimmy G, or Brock Purdy is more or less the next Tom Brady. Whatever their decision, I feel like the 49ers have too many in-house options they’re comfortable with to bring someone else in.
  • Carolina Panthers - Between Atlanta and Carolina, I’d trust the Falcons’ organization more. Bigger market, long-tenured ownership and less uncertainty since the Panthers are coming off a chaotic QB carousel and still figuring out who their next full-time head coach will be.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok