Derek Carr All-22 Film Review: The NFL’s most clutch quarterback

Derek Carr is playing some of the best football of his career so far in 2021. What does the All-22 film review show about his clutch gene?

We’ve seen our fair share of good quarterbacks that turn on the burners in end-of-half and end-of-game situations. Nobody does that better than Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr, but no all-22 film review can quantify why he becomes a superhero in crunch time. Some guys just let the ball go freely when there’s little to lose. However, Carr isn’t just clutch late in games. No, only Patrick Mahomes has been better on third and fourth down since 2019. And in 2021, Carr has turned that performance into an early MVP candidacy.

Derek Carr All-22 Film Review: Turning on the clutch

Maybe if Carr played a more carefree brand of football more often in the past, he’d have put up nutty numbers for years. Heck, perhaps we’d consider him a top-five quarterback. However, there is a significant difference in first and second down Carr and third and fourth down Carr.

From 2019-2021, he’s averaged .13 expected points added, which ranks 21st in the league of the 30 quarterbacks with at least 500 plays. He averaged 7 air yards and completed 2.6% more passes than expected during that time.

On third and fourth down, only that pesky Mahomes tops Carr in expected points added. Carr’s money-down EPA is .393, which is over 3x his early-down production. He also sees an uptick in CPOE to 6.8% while averaging 9.6 air yards.

This is not a sample size issue, either. Carr has 954 qualifying plays on first and second down and 391 on third and fourth down. All of these numbers can be found by playing around on Ben Baldwin’s website.

But y’all aren’t here for numbers, right? Let’s jump in and watch some tape.

The big-play machine

I’m still attempting to process this one. He never seems to finish this throw. If you pause it around the 18-second mark, it appears he just shot a free throw. Whatever magic he used to get this ball off, let alone loft it over the mountains over there and drop it directly into the bucket, could probably end war forever.

And let’s not just forget that he prefers a particular partner in these situations, and it’s not his All-Pro-caliber tight end. Bryan Edwards has more overtime receptions in 2021 than he does in the first three quarters of games. He also has more yards in overtime (109) alone than during the first 60 minutes (101).

One thing that’s evident from the all-22 film review in both plays above is his poise in the pocket. Carr’s also incredibly adept at finding a way to hold onto the ball until the last possible second, manipulating his arm angle to get passes off.

He knows he’s about to take a massive shot here from the blitzing defensive back that ran over Kenyan Drake like an older brother does when the youngest takes the last pop-tart.

What Carr has done behind a Swiss cheese offensive line is nothing short of magnificent. Yet, the most impressive part of his game is his trust in his receivers in crucial situations. He knows they have some dudes that can get the ball and others that can flat-out get open.

Derek Carr All-22 Film Review: Creating plays off-script

He isn’t unathletic, but when we think of Carr, we don’t necessarily think about creativity — maybe we should.

Here, he does a great job moving to the open spot the protection created on a mess of a blitz from the Dolphins. Instead of simply tucking and running the ball, he keeps his eyes up on the long-developing double break from his clutch brother, Edwards.

Carr does a good job resetting his feet and getting his kinetic chain back in sequence. The rest is made by an accurate throw and catch.

This is the type of arm talent that always had us hopeful for Carr. Here, he throws across his body to the crossing receiver, who he hits in stride. In a world seemingly full of wacky arm angles and cross-body bombs, Carr hangs in there with his physical skill set. He’s thrown a few passes across his body while rolling right in 2021, a challenging thing to accomplish.

Who gets the ball last on Monday Night Football?

That’s who wins the game, at least based on what we’ve seen from the two quarterbacks participating. So far in 2021, Carr is first in EPA in the fourth quarter. Justin Herbert, his adversary on MNF, sits at second. Who’s third? Well, that would be Mahomes.

The AFC West has some quarterbacks, it seems. There are four good football teams in the division. If this Raiders’ roster can somehow win enough games to steal the division away from the Chiefs, we could very well see Carr raising the MVP Trophy.

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