Every position on the roster every season has a battle or a few. For the quarterback position, that battle has been between backups. Not this year. This year we have a battle at the top.
Derek Carr vs Marcus Mariota
Others: Nathan Peterman
As a rookie in 2014, Derek Carr was initially supposed to ease his way in. Matt Schaub was signed in free agency, and he was the projected starter until Carr could take the reins. Then Schaub began experiencing elbow tendinitis and Carr was given the ball in the final preseason game. He would throw three touchdowns, win the starting job, and never looked back.
Since then the list of quarterbacks that have come through the Raiders facility has been the least threatening rogues gallery you’ll ever see. It includes the likes of Christian Ponder, Connor Cook, Garrett Gilbert, Josh Johnson, Christian Hackenberg. E.J. Manuel, A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, Deshone Kiser, and Mike Glennon.
None were competing for anything more than being a hopefully capable fill-in for Derek Carr. Not Marcus Mariota. He’s not just a high-paid backup, his contract has incentives in it should he win the starting job.
Mariota was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Oregon. In five seasons in Tennessee, he had five different offensive coordinators. Derek Carr had been given a lot of slack because in his first five seasons, he had a different offensive coordinator in all but one season.
No one should be judged by their rookie season, and Mariota only started part of last season, so let’s compare each quarterback’s seasons from Year 2-4. I including rushing in the yards and touchdown totals.
|Player||Att||Comp||Comp %||Y/A||Total yds||Total TD||Int||Passer rate||Avg QBR|
The primary areas Derek Carr beats out Mariota are touchdowns and passer rating. Mariota has better numbers in most of the categories including completion percentage, yards per attempt, and QBR.
Wins aren’t a quarterback stat, but there’s no question Mariota has been part of a lot more winning seasons than Carr has. The Titans had a winning record with Mariota at quarterback in all three of the above seasons. Carr’s led the Raiders to one winning season (2016) in his six seasons as Raiders starting quarterback,
Both players suffered broken legs the same week in 2016. Since then he and Carr have both received criticism that they haven’t been the same kind of player as they were before the injury. So, let’s look at their number in the two seasons following their injuries in 2017-18.
|2017-18||Att||Comp||Comp %||Y/A||Total yds||Total TD||Int||Passer rate||Avg QBR|
Carr has had a better completion percentage and again had more touchdowns and a better passer rating. But Mariota still had more yards per attempt and a better QBR.
Make what you will with these numbers and the comparison between the two. If nothing else, it paints a picture of a battle in which neither quarterback has a leg up on the other.
Both have enough tape to prove they can be a viable starting NFL quarterback in the right system, but neither has shown without a doubt they are the long term answer.
The Raiders are hoping one of them distinguishes himself enough that they can move forward with confidence in their decision.