Last month, the Last Word on Pro Football department wrote articles ranking the top ten players in each division. When our department got to the AFC West, there was a bit of a debate. Who is the best quarterback in the AFC West, Derek Carr or Philip Rivers? Rivers is the veteran, but Carr has the higher ceiling, so who is the better quarterback going into 2017?
Derek Carr vs. Philip Rivers
This is one of those subjective debates where both sides are right from a certain point of view. Philip Rivers had fewer offensive weapons, but he also ended the season with more passing yards and touchdowns. However, Rivers also led the NFL in interceptions, andCarr’s Oakland Raiders won seven more games. In order to determine which player is truly better, you need to take a closer look.
Numbers Don’t Always Lie
In 2016, Derek Carr threw for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions. In comparsion, Philip Rivers threw for 4,386 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. However, it’s important to note that Carr’s season ended early with a broken fibula. Carr was on pace to throw for 4,199 yards, 31 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Even with the added game, Rivers still has more yards and touchdowns.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Rivers led the NFL in interceptions. He threw at least one interception in each of the last seven games, including a game against the Miami Dolphins where he threw to the wrong team four times. If you subtract the interceptions from touchdowns, Carr threw 25 touchdowns (with pace) to Rivers’ 12.
Then again, it’s not that simple. Derek Carr has a fantastic offensive line, a reliable run game, and the dynamic duo of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper to throw to. On the surface, it looks like San Diego’s offense was a joke last year. After all, Tyrell Williams was Rivers’ number one receiver. However, the Chargers also had future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates and young stud Hunter Henry, as well as Melvin Gordon‘s break-out season.
When you bring up the four interception game against Miami, compared to the fact that Derek Carr set the single-season record for game winning touchdown passes, you have to consider the clutch factor. When the game was on the line, Carr made the big plays and Rivers didn’t.
Moving forward, it’s obvious that Derek Carr is the better quarterback. He’s younger, more reliable, and he’s in a better position to succeed. The Oakland Raiders are one of the NFL’s young teams to watch, and Rivers is running out of time. Philip Rivers deserves credit for what he manages to do with an underwhelming Chargers team, but that shouldn’t be held against Carr.