While Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders handled business last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, there is still an ongoing debate about the team's lack of success. Of course, some of those critics were silenced after the Raiders knocked off the Chief, but others are still wondering if the problem going forward is Derek Carr or the Raiders' defense.
To answer that question, let’s start by looking at Derek Carr’s stats this season and comparing that to another quarterback’s around the league. So far, Carr is the 8th best quarterback in the league right now and has thrown 11 touchdowns to only one interception. He also has an average of 8.2 yards per play and has only taken two sacks this season.
None of this means that Carr is perfect or that he doesn't need to work on coming up clutch in key situations, but it doesn't seem like he is as bad as what fans are claiming. Furthermore, Carr just beat the fourth-best quarterback in the entire league and could very well become a top-five contender heading into the second half of the season.
Now for the defense. This review isn’t going to be nearly as kind.
In all honesty, the Raiders' defense has been one of the most ineffective units in the entire NFL this season. At the time of this writing, the Raiders have the 25th worse defense in the league. They also have allowed almost 400 yards per game and have given up an average of 30.4 points a game. Those kinds of stats aren’t going to get them to the playoffs or even a winning record for that matter.
It is worth mentioning that critical components of the defense such as Trent Brown, Johnathon Abram, and Mallek Collins are all missing, but the defense must get a little better than this. Maybe that’s too much to ask from a team that consists of several second-string backs and some veterans, but they should at least be able to keep a game in range so Carr can work his magic.
In the end, the Raiders continuing to win games will be a team effort between Carr and the defense. Unfortunately for Carr, while he is mostly holding up his part of the bargain, the defense seems to be struggling. Hopefully, that changes as players come off the injured list, and the defense gets a chance to gel, but Carr has no support right now.