Derek Carr or Matthew Stafford?

It’s a simple question. Derek Carr or Matthew Stafford? The answer may not be as easy as you think.

With the Oakland Raiders recently giving Carr the biggest yearly contract in NFL history, most figure Stafford will one-up the rising star. This assumption has caused quite the stir amongst Detroit Lions fans. Most notably, the Stafford “haters.”

Let’s take a second to compare the two franchise quarterbacks.

Similarities:

Differences:

  • Three years in age.
  • The talent of the team surrounding each player.

Stafford has been one of the most prolific passers to ever step foot on the field. The 29-year old QB was the fastest to reach 30,000 passing yards in NFL history. Carr, on the other hand, has never surpassed the 4,000-yard mark in his career–a feat Stafford has passed the last six years. The fourth-year quarterback needed less than a 100-yards last year to reach 4k before a broken ankle derailed his season in week 16.

In saying this, no situation is created equal.

Derek Carr’s team:

Pro Football Focus ranked the Raiders offensive line last year as the fourth best line in the NFL. Their 2015 28th ranked rushing attack jumped all the way to the 6th in 2016. That wasn’t the only glaring improvement either as Carr’s sack numbers almost were cut in half from 31 down to 16. A recipe for QB success.

What’s odd is that his stats were not markedly different in 2016 as they were in 2015, yet his value skyrocketed. He was able to increase his completion percentage by a couple points and was much better in terms of interceptions.

You could surmise his increased worth had something to do with his win total. He sprang from seven wins to twelve in the span of a year–a total that Stafford has never touched. But, football is still a team sport and the talent enclosing each signal-caller are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Is it a possible that Carr could suddenly progress into an MVP-caliber player over a year’s time? Yes, it’s very possible. Is it possible that Carr is a similar QB to his 2015 form and the team around him played better? That seems to be more likely. Did I mention the Raiders also lead the league for the number of Pro Bowlers (7)?

Make no mistake, Carr has one of the brightest futures in the NFL, but it’s important to note that his dramatic increase in value also coincided with great line play. That is a convenience that Stafford has never been afforded.

Matthew Stafford’s team:

Pro Football Focus ranked the Lions offensive line last year as the 19th best line in the NFL. Their slightly below average grade did not produce a commensurate run game as they finished 30th in the NFL. On a positive note, they did improve from dead last in the league the year before. Stafford’s sacks totals are not much better as the Lions have fallen in the bottom third the past couple years as well.

The only Lions Pro Bowler last year was a kicker.

Despite the less than desirable situation that Stafford has constantly been put in, he has still been able to drag underwhelming teams to the playoffs. As much as fans want to say he had Calvin Johnson to carry him, wide receivers alone don’t win football games.

It would not be fair to compare the two apple to apple when there is such a gap in ancillary talent. If anything, Carr’s 2015, seven-win season, is a better parallel for Stafford’s current situation. Don’t think for a second that I am saying I would not want Carr as the signal-caller for my team, I am simply trying to validate the price tag for the future highest paid QB in the league, Matthew Stafford.

 

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