The 2016 season for the Oakland Raiders has been summarized by the phrase ‘return to greatness’. The Raiders exuded the signs of an elite team last year, but were unraveled thanks in part to a devastating injury. However, that hasn’t stopped those around the Raiders for recognizing what the players have done.
As the regular season has concluded, many noteworthy media outlets have begun handing out awards to those in the NFL. Earlier this week, ESPN announced their divisional winners for the offensive and defensive players of the year.
When the announcement was made official, it seemed one Raiders quarterback stood out amongst the rest, via ESPN.com:
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was voted AFC West offensive player of the year by the four reporters covering the division for ESPN.com.
The four ESPN reporters responsible for covering the AFC West are each responsible for a team. Paul Gutierrez covers the Raiders, Jeff Legwold is a Denver Broncos reporter, Adam Teicher covers the Kansas City Chiefs and Eric Williams covered the San Diego Chargers in their final season at Qualcomm Stadium.
While each was able to make a case as to why the third-year player deserves to win the award, the numbers speak for themselves. Carr led the NFL with seven game-winning drives this season in the fourth quarter, demonstrating on countless occasions a clutch gene that allows him to deliver in the crucial moments of the game.
Carr was voted to his second Pro Bowl this season, even with his season falling short due to the leg injury. The Raiders clearly stumbled to the finish line, as their last 2.5 games without Carr were near a disaster.
It seemed as though the morale of the team flew out the window with the Carr injury, as he emerged as the clear team leader on the Raiders’ first postseason and winning-record team since 2002. That relationship with his roster certainly gives him leverage going into the free agency talks, as Carr has turned into a bonafide franchise quarterback.
Carr has stated that he wants to help the Raiders on their return to greatness, creating relationships with head coach Jack Del Rio and newly appointed offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
In 15 games this season (although one was cut short), the Fresno State alumnus posted 3937 passing yards, with a 63.8 completion percentage. He totaled 28 touchdowns on the season, while only allowing six interceptions and being sacked a league-low 16 times.
His 61.8 QBR this season was a career high, as his efficiency escalated tremendously this season. Upon him going down with the season-ending injury, many different NFL players came to his aide, stating that Carr deserves to be a NFL MVP candidate.