As crazy as it sounds, a member of the Oakland Raiders might be in the most valuable player conversation. Quarterback Derek Carr has been phenomenal this season, and as we reach the halfway point, he’s on pace for some big numbers. The number is only halfway over, so a bunch of things could happen, but if the season ended right now, is he a serious contender for the most prestigious individual award in the NFL?
Is Derek Carr an MVP Candidate?
The Case for Carr
So far this season, Carr has thrown for 2,321 yards, 17 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. He’s on pace for 4,642 yards, 34 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Those numbers are obviously very good, but are they MVP worthy? Well, if history has any say, then yes.
Aaron Rodgers in 2014
Just two years ago, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers won the prestigious award, and he threw for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns, and five interceptions. That season, the Packers won twelve games, which is exactly what the Raiders are on pace for. If that was good enough for Rodgers, why not Carr?
Cam Newton in 2015
Obviously, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers brings his legs to the table as well. While Carr is also athletic, Newton is arguably more dangerous on the ground than he is through the air. As a passer, Carr’s numbers are definitely better. While Cam threw for 35 touchdowns, but he only threw for 3,837 yards and he was picked off ten times. Even if you add in Cam’s 636 yards he picked up on the ground, Carr is still responsible for 169 more yards. Unfortunately for his case, Cam’s 35 passing touchdowns edge Carr out, and that’s before you add the ten rushing scores.
Those two gentlemen had good competition when they won the award. Fans argued that J.J Watt should’ve won the award in 2014, and Tom Brady led the league in passing touchdowns last season. The biggest thing that’s going for Carr? His opposition.
Who else can seriously be considered for the award? Peyton Manning has retired, and despite what experts say, Tom Brady‘s absentee start might hold him back. Aaron Rodgers has had a hot and cold season, and Andrew Luck is being held back by his team.
Unfortunately, the MVP has become a quarterback’s award. Eight of the last ten MVPs have been quarterbacks, and the two running backs, Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson had phenomenal record-breaking seasons. Ezekiel Elliott and Julio Jones are non-quarterbacks having fantastic seasons, but even if they keep their pace for sixteen games, they’ll likely be overshadowed by whichever post-season quarterback has the best statistics.
Matt Ryan is the easy answer. His Atlanta Falcons have the number one offense in the league, and his numbers match. He, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones have been terrifying defenses all over the league. He’s thrown for 2,636 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He’s on pace for 5,272 yards, 38 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those numbers are ridiculous. The real question with Matt Ryan is if he can keep it up. The Falcons were red hot to start 2015, and they missed the playoffs. They’re 5-3 now, and with the exception of the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and their divisional rivals, there aren’t many tough games left.
You have to feel sorry for Drew Brees. He’s going to pass Peyton Manning in the record books sooner than you think, and his team is just dreadful. The New Orleans Saints can’t seem to give Brees the support he deserves. It doesn’t matter how good his stats are, if the Saints aren’t in the playoffs, Brees isn’t in the conversation. The MVP has been on a playoff team every year since O.J. Simpson in 1973.
Tom Brady has been on a tear since he returned from suspension. He has shown no mercy and is on a historical pace. In only four games, Brady has already thrown for 1,319 yards, twelve touchdowns, and no interceptions. He’s averaging an incredible 330 passing yards and three touchdown passes a game. The New England Patriots might be the best team in football, and make no mistake, that’s because of Tom Brady. The only thing that might hold him back is that he got into the game too late. Every quarterback in the league has a four-game head-start, and even at his pace, his total numbers might not be good enough.
It is only week eight. Pace means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Carr won’t throw for exactly 290 yards and two touchdowns every game. It’s just not feasible. Carr is going to have good games, bad game, great games, and terrible games. When the dust settles, it’s hard to say how many yards and touchdowns he’ll have. But one thing is for sure, after throwing for over 500 yards and four touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Oakland Raiders have a franchise quarterback.