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There was a point in Derek Carr’s career in which he was considered among the least aggressive quarterbacks in the NFL.
Far too often, he would opt for the check-down throws to the running back or tight end rather than throwing the ball down the field. On key third downs, he rarely delivered the ball beyond the first-down marker. In 2018, he averaged only 6.8 air yards per passing attempt. In 2019, that fell to 6.6, which was among the lowest in the NFL.
But something happened in 2020 and he started to become more aggressive, averaging 8.1 air yards per attempt. Could that have been the addition of Henry Ruggs or did Carr’s mindset change? We may never know the answer to that.
This year, Carr is averaging a staggering 9.4 air yards per attempt, which is the highest of his career. On top of that, he has more completions, yards and big-time throws beyond 20 yards than any other quarterback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Derek Carr on 20+ yard throws:
🚀 18 completions (T-1st)
🚀 603 yards (1st)
🚀 17 big-time throws (1st) pic.twitter.com/X89glLuKWa
— PFF (@PFF) October 19, 2021
When Carr is aggressive and throwing the ball down the field, he is one of the league’s best quarterbacks. He has a knack for throwing with accuracy and touch on throws that require some extra arm strength. The offense is hard to stop when Carr is taking shots down the field as it forces opponents to defend every blade of grass on the field.
For the offense to continue to be successful, Carr is going to need to stay aggressive. But can his offensive line hold up long enough to protect him and allow him to throw the ball down the field? That is the biggest question as Carr has now proven over the last few seasons that he is elite when throwing deep passes.
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