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Derek Carr: Inconsistent, yet Somehow Efficient

Derek Carr is considered a mid-tier QB, but he is leading an offense with the 9th highest points per drive.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the nflFastR project and NFL NextGen Stats for the timely sources of data.

For those of you new to this, I will publish key QB stats each week judging how well the Colts passing game performed. Yes, O-Line, receivers, and play-calling impact these numbers but they are primarily QB measures. I will probably modify the charts throughout the season. Commentary will be brief but feel free to let me know in the comments that stats aren’t everything. (click charts for larger view)

NOTE: All references to rankings are of the top 32 QBs by dropbacks through the current week.

Derek Carr has the 9th-highest EPA per dropback of any QB in 2022. He also has the 10th-best QBR so far this year. So, how has he achieved those high numbers when most power rankings have him as an average to below-average, QB? Two reasons:

  1. QBR lies
  2. His epa efficiency is not supportable.

Point #1 requires a much longer explanation, but suffice it to to say that by QBR, Carson Wentz was the 9th best QB in 2021, and Philip Rivers was 19th in 2020. So, there’s that.

I’ll expand a bit on point #2, though.

This year, Derek Carr has faced tougher than average opponents with a fairly balanced offense (9th opd, 16th edp), and with Josh Jacobs, their run game has been very productive (8th arsr).

Carr takes a lot of deep shots (8th 20+) even though he isn’t that successful on them (20th 20+e). Still, he has the 5th-longest depth of target, and the 10th-longest completions in the league (adot, ay/c). His normally good accuracy has been poor this year (24th cpoe), and it has limited the success of those long passes. As such, he has only managed average yardage efficiency (18th ypa).

Depth comes with a cost, and Carr has the 10th-longest time to throw (ttt), which certainly is a factor in the 6th highest pressure rate he’s endured (pr%). However, he handles the pressure well, as he avoids sacks and has below-average abandoned attempts (20th sk%, 18th aa%). This actually boosts his relative net yardage efficiency a bit (17th ny/d), but it is still just meh.

He’s been careful with the ball, limiting turnovers, and he is fairly proficient at getting first downs, but with a slightly below-average TD rate (25th to%, 14th 1st%, 17th td%). All of that spells “average QB”. So, how does he have the 9th-best epa efficiency?

It’s because he has been a boom or bust QB. If I I only look at positive plays, he ranks 4th in epa/d, but his overall success rate ranks a mere 23rd. In other words, his successful plays are overly successful, but he doesn’t have that many of them, and so his epa/d is hiding his much more mundane underlying play. This is also evidenced by his 8th-best epa/d outside the red zone and 31st rank inside. QBs like that, find it hard to maintain that high epa efficiency.


For most games, he has been OK, except for a ridiculously poor game against New Orleans . . . you know, the game where Davante Adams was on my fantasy roster and caught 1 pass for 3 yards.

Again, notice that by EPA he is doing much better than by the the other measures. That’s not sustainable unless he brings up the other drivers, like conversion rate and net yardage efficiency.


His depth of target has consistently been above average as has been his completion depth . . . except against New Orleans when Davante Adams was on my fantasy roster.

Meh YPA.


The Las Vegas receiving corps has been a one-trick pony, consisting of Davante Adams pulling in the lion’s share of targets and yards . . . except against New Orleans . . . when I bet money on him.


Total CPOE has been significantly below average this year, although between 2019-2021, Carr had the 8th best accuracy in the league.


He holds the ball a long time, but he throws far and that pretty much balances out, as he is right on the expected TTT line for target depth.


Even though he takes a lot of deep shots, they don’t usually pay off.