Is Derek Carr a Legitimate Early Season MVP Candidate?


Following Sunday’s 26-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Las Vegas Raiders have started a regular season with a 2-0 record for the first time since the 1984 campaign. With four wins over the Steelers in their last five matchups, the Raiders have used the first two weeks of the new season to make some noise in the AFC West.

The early success is largely due to the efficient play of quarterback Derek Carr, who finished with 382 passing yards and two touchdowns across a 75% completion rate this past weekend. With 435 passing yards in Las Vegas’ Week 1 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Carr has compiled 817 passing yards through the first two weeks; the most in franchise history across a two-game span.

The Raiders have found success on offense without much presence in the run game, as Josh Jacobs continues to miss time with an ankle and toe injury. Peyton Barber (32 rushing yards vs PIT) and Jacobs (34 rushing yards vs BAL) have been the team’s leading rushers in the first two games this season.

Carr has been an overlooked quarterback in the past, as he’s surpassed 4,000 passing yards in each of the past three seasons. Without a playoff appearance since 2016, however, it’s been difficult to imagine the 30-year old as a legitimate MVP candidate.

While offensive coordinator Greg Olson continues to make tight end Darren Waller the primary receiver in the Raiders offense, the team has seen early signs of promise from younger players such as Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III. The two have combined for 280 receiving yards to this point.

Entering the 2021 season, Las Vegas had one of the toughest schedules to prepare for. With victories over Baltimore and Pittsburgh under their belt, the Raiders move forward and play against the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears in two of their next three games; both teams with quarterback injuries suffered in Week 2.

According to Vegas odds, Carr is still a +2000 underdog to win the 2021 MVP award by the end of the season. Other notable names ahead of him include Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, and even Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Carr currently has the 10th-best odds. With a few more strong performances, he will certainly remain in the MVP conversation.

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