The Las Vegas Raiders have been patient with Derek Carr for several seasons, as the franchise was hoping its quarterback would rekindle his success from a 2016 campaign that led to the Raiders' only playoff appearance since Super Bowl XXXVII -- 18 years ago. As the Raiders played their first game in Vegas, they may not only have the 2016 Derek Carr -- but an even better quarterback.
In his signature victory with the Raiders (this is Carr's seventh season with the franchise), Carr finished 28 of 38 for 282 yards with three touchdowns as Vegas stunned the New Orleans Saints 34-24 in the inaugural game at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders are 2-0 for the first time since the 2017 season and just the fourth since the turn of the century (three of those 2-0 starts have come under head coach Jon Gruden).
Carr is largely responsible for the Raiders' 2-0 start, the franchise quarterback Gruden has stuck by the past three seasons -- even though many pundits said he should move on.
"This guy's a great quarterback," Gruden said. "We're surrounding him with better players. And once our defense I think starts playing to their potential, he can even be better. He does so much with the ball and without the ball and behind the scenes that I think Raiders fans should really be proud of him, and I know I am."
Whether Carr truly is a great quarterback is up for debate, but his numbers through the first games of 2020 back up Gruden's claim. Carr is fifth in the league in completion percentage (73.5), tied for 10th in touchdown passes (4) and eighth in quarterback rating (114.9). He has not thrown an interception this season, but did have two fumbles (one lost) through the first two games. This comes a season after Carr set a career high in completion percentage (70.4%), yards (4,054) and yards per attempt (7.9).
Carr is one of just five quarterbacks to have 20,000 passing yards, 125 passing touchdowns, and fewer than 65 interceptions -- joining Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Carr also has the most fourth-quarter comebacks (19) since entering the league in 2014. Let's not forget Carr out-dueled Brees in the desert Monday night, showcasing to the Raiders he's the man to lead them for many seasons in Vegas -- despite the franchise adding Marcus Mariota this offseason.
Gruden's faith in Carr is paying off as the Raiders are one of the surprise teams in the league through two weeks. Based on the way Carr is playing, the Raiders may be in line to make the playoffs in Gruden's third year -- even in the talented AFC West.