Ever since Derek Carr broke his fibula in Week 16, the Raider Nation has been divided. Some are clamouring for the debut of Connor Cook, some are fiercely behind Matt McGloin, and others have already surrendered all hope for the 12-3 team. However, there’s one rumor that gives all of these passionate fans a spark of life. The rumor that Carr might be able to heal quickly enough to return this season.
Oakland Raiders Shouldn’t Rush Derek Carr Back
As seductive as the idea of having the franchise back for the playoffs is, the Raiders should hold off. Does Derek Carr give the Raiders a better chance to win than Cook or McGloin? Absolutely. But in the big picture, that’s all the more reason for Carr’s continued absence. It’s true that Carr gives the Raiders a better chance to win in 2016, but he also gives them a better chance in the years that follow.
Robert Griffin III
Believe it or not, Robert Griffin III was once the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He won the award over the likes of Doug Martin, Russell Wilson, and a certain quarterback out of Stanford (that’s called foreshadowing). In his rookie year, RGIII was responsible for over 4,000 total yards and 27 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions. He led the Washington Redskins from 5-11 and last place in the NFC East to 10-6, and sweet first place.
So what went wrong? That’s a loaded question. Some will argue that Griffin was never really all that good to begin with, and that he hit his ceiling as a rookie. Others will argue that his coaching held him back, and he was forced to be a scrambler when he could’ve been a passer.
The truth? In Week 14 of his rookie year, Griffin sprained his LCL in a game against the Baltimore Ravens. He missed the rest of the bout, but some back-up named Kirk Cousins stepped in, and led the Redskins to victory. Griffin missed the rest of the game, and sat out a game against the Cleveland Browns, but was able to return for the playoffs.
Remember what happened to RGIII in the playoffs? He ran into the Legion of Boom. Mike Shanahan carelessly threw his young quarterback in, and not only did they lose, but he aggravated his injury. Since then, Griffin has spent more time on the bench than on the field, and that’s not just because of shoddy play. Even in 2016, he spent the bulk of the season inactive because of an injury.
It’s easy to forget, but once upon a time, Carson Palmer wasn’t a gunslinger. In 2005, only his second season as a starter in the NFL, Palmer completed almost 68% of his passes on his way to a 32 touchdown, 12 interception season. Those numbers should look familiar to Raiders fans, because that’s pretty similar to what Derek Carr put up in his second season as well.
Unlike Carr, Palmer’s Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs, and early into a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it looked like they were going to run away with the win. Then Steelers lineman, Kimo Von Oelhoffen fell, wrapping up Palmer’s leg, a lot like Trent Cole did to Carr. Palmer suffered severe knee damage, and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Fueled by hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Palmer gave everything to rehab, vowing that he would be back for the first game of the season. Not only did he come through on that promise, but he was ready for the pre-season. Only, Palmer was never the same.
After completing nearly 68% of his passes, Palmer would only complete more than 63% three more times in his career. Palmer would miss parts of four seasons thanks to injuries, and he didn’t throw 30 touchdowns again until 2015.
When discussing the best defensive players in the NFL, most Raiders fans will tell you that Khalil Mack is the best of the best. But even the most passionate Raiders fan will tell you that J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is pretty good too. How good? Despite having five partially torn tendons and a broken hand, Watt led the NFL in sacks in 2015.
Obviously, with a newly signed franchise quarterback in Brock Osweiler, the Houston Texans had big plans in 2016, and they were going to need their star pass rusher. So when he had surgery on his back in mid-July, the Texans were nervous.
Watt practiced through the pain anyway, and was ready to play when Week One rolled around. Or so he thought. Watt limped through three games and recorded a sack and a half before giving in, and ending his season early. Watt had to get back surgery yet again, and the Texans will not have him for the playoffs in two weeks.
See? Foreshadowing. Derek Carr is one of the best young quarterbacks in football, but Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts is pretty phenomenal. He’s got the size and athleticism of Cam Newton with the football intellect of Peyton Manning and the heart of Tom Brady. Luck is essentially a “Create a Player” from the latest Madden game.
Unfortunately, Ryan Grigson, the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, went from playing rookie to All-Madden. Grigson has no clue what he’s doing, and he has failed to give his young quarterback an adequate supporting cast. That means that if the Colts want to win, they’ll win on the arm of Andrew Luck.
Following a 2014 season that saw the Colts go to the AFC Championship, the Colts had to be thinking they could pick right up where they left off. The 2015 season was a rough one for Indianapolis. They ended up going 8-8, but they fell far short of expectations, and it’s easy to see why.
Early in the year, Luck missed some time because of an injured shoulder, a devastating injury for a quarterback, but he hurried back. He rushed back because the Colts needed him for a game against Brady and the New England Patriots. He was able to play for a couple of weeks, before he missed the rest of the season with a lacerated kidney and and a torn abdominal muscle.
(Silver and) Black and White
Luck would only start seven games in 2015, and peculiarly, he was starting for five of Indy’s eight losses. It was Matt Hasselbeck who actually won most of their games that year. This unfairly caused people to assume that Luck was the problem, when in fact, the Colts had to dumb down their offense, and play conservatively. Not to mention, Luck lost to teams like the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and New Orleans Saints, while Hasselbeck beat teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But while Luck’s injuries seem the most out of place, it’s his situation that rings true. In Luck’s absence, Hasselbeck was able to help the Colts win games. He isn’t the best quarterback on the roster, but he can win games.
If history is any indication, rushing a guy back from injury is just a bad idea. The physical and psychological damage done brings more risk than it offers reward. McGloin has played well for the Raiders in the past, and if they’re able to defeat the Denver Broncos this Sunday, he’ll only have to win three games. The Raiders should deactivate Derek Carr until 2016, and let the kid from Penn State (or Michigan State) have a shot. There’s always next year.