ALAMEDA – Derek Carr is the nation’s young quarterback of the moment. That's a title bump he didn't request.
The Raiders signal caller has had an excellent first half to his season, with excellent stats and a series of come-from-behind wins. With it comes positive press.
Sure, Dallas’ Dak Prescott is on the cover of magazines, but he’s being considered for rookie of the year. Carr’s being discussed as an MVP candidate.
Casual current became a Class VI rapid after Sunday’s 30-24 victory over Tampa Bay where Carr threw for 513 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions bringing his team back late in the fourth quarter and ahead with little extra time remaining.
Carr’s numbers have been awesome, but quarterbacks are judged on wins. The 25-year old is best recognized a trusted leader of men, guiding a talented crew to a 6-2 mark halfway through the year. There have been three comebacks in the fourth quarter or later, with Carr seemingly immune to the stress.
The hot takes have come strong this week, with Carr being included with Tom Brady and Matt Ryan among legitimate MVP candidates. Some have chosen him as a favorite. Contrarians say he ain’t so great.
All are dissecting what has changed for Carr between this season and the previous two. Those close to this team have analyzed this topic for months, and there are several factors involved. Carr is more comfortable in his reads and his role in this offensive scheme. He’s also using an improved running game and excellent receivers thanks to a hulking offensive line that allows everyone else to thrive.
Carr, however, is getting all the credit from national types hammering these trending Raiders.
Now feels appropriate to unearth a quote Carr has used several times before, one that describes his mantra in football times like these: Ignore the good and the bad said about you, because neither matter.
Results count. Compliments don’t.
Carr doesn’t pay attention to the chatter. He can admit, however, it’s getting harder to avoid.
“(It is) when people come running up to me and things like that, but halfway through the year, it means nothing,” Carr said. “It’s cool to be, you know, as a little kid thinking about those kinds of things, that’s cool, but that’s probably where it ends for me.”
Family and close friends wouldn’t distract with MVP talk. Plenty of voices remain to break focus from Sunday night’s AFC West clash against Denver, which is carried between film and meetings and practice and workouts and meals and designed rest.
“I would rather not hear anything,” Carr said. “I would rather just go about my business and hang out with my family, to be honest. But, it’s a part of this business, it’s a part of this job so… Trust me, I’m very honored and thankful, don’t get me wrong, but at this point in the year, that stuff is, it’s cool but it’s not for me.”
The NFL MVP is voted upon after the regular season and awarded just before the Super Bowl. It isn’t decided halfway through.
“I don’t believe there’s such thing as a midseason MVP or anything like that,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “But, if Derek keeps playing well, at the end of the season we’ll definitely see.”
If the Raiders go 6-2 in the second half and therefore 12-4 overall, Carr should rightfully be in the discussion for the league’s finest individual award. Most have carried that message.
Khalil Mack, one of Carr’s best friends on the team, couldn’t help but support his boy.
“D.C., that’s my dog, man,” Mack said. “He deserves that. He’s a hell of a player, hell of a person and hell of a quarterback. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Bruce Irvin was diplomatic about his quarterback’s hot streak, especially with so much football remaining.
“We have a long season left still,” Irvin said. “He’s having a great year and is leading us the way he’s supposed to. It’s Week 9. We have bigger goals than anything individual. We’re trying to make the playoffs, and I’m sure DC would tell you that’s more important that anything else. It’s bigger than us. It’s about we.”