New Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is thrilled with second-year quarterback Derek Carr.
“Carr’s a special young talent,” said Del Rio. “He’s got a really quick release, good decision-maker; he’s shown some of that grit we’re looking for, some of that toughness, so he’s a guy that we feel like we have an opportunity to build around.”
In Del Rio’s final year as the Jaguars head coach, the team started rookie Blaine Gabbert at quarterback 14 times on the way to a 5-11 record.
Carr threw 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while starting every game for Oakland in 2014 as the Raiders won but 3 games. Carr was running for his life most of the season.
But Del Rio and the Raiders have 50-million in cap room and are eager to add talent around their strong-armed QB.
Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Carr left Fresno State as one of 19 quarterbacks in FS history to throw for over 10,000 career yards, and 100 touchdowns. His 12,842-yard career passing total is good for 13th in FS history. In 2013 he won the Sammy Baugh Award, given to the nation’s top passer.
The 6-foot-3 Carr ended his collegiate career with a 113-to-24 touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.71), second highest in FS history for quarterbacks who have thrown over 100 career touchdowns, behind only Boise State’s Kellen Moore (5.07 in 2008). With 50 touchdown passes in 2013, he tied for the fourth-most in FS single-season history.
Part of what Del Rio likes about his QB is his level of maturity at such a young age. Carr married Heather Neel when he was 21 and the couple have a son named Dallas.
“Derek comes from a strong family,” said Del Rio. “He has a high football I.Q. He is a father and has a firm foundation.”
But Carr had to learn a lesson before he grew to be the person he is today.
“Christ became real to me when my wife (Heather), who was just a friend at the time, wrote me a letter that said, ‘You’re not the person I thought you were.’”
“He would say one thing, and act the opposite,” Heather recalls. “He talked about God, and how much he loved God, then I would see him going to parties, hanging out with girls.”
“I remember that moment,” Carr says. “I felt so selfish. I felt so arrogant. I felt so cocky, but I was still a nice, genuine person. All of a sudden all the feelings came upon me and I got down on my knees. It was finally that time God put His foot on my throat and said, ‘I have special plans for you, and you’re screwing it up.’”
He says, “That next week we had a game at Ole Miss. I got up in front of my whole team and told them, ‘Guys, I’ve been calling myself a Christian and haven’t been living it; you guys know what I’ve been doing. I’m a Christian now and I’ve asked God for His forgiveness; now watch how I live my life’. That’s really what being a Christian is about.”
Carr has his feet stuck firmly in the ground in Oakland. Del Rio appears excited to watch him prosper.