Let’s put it this way: it certainly can’t hurt to get the man many backed for MVP much of last season back in the lineup.
The Oakland Raiders started this season with such promise. There was a Week 1 road win at Tennessee, followed by a decisive thrashing of the Jets. Then the Washington Redskins smacked them around, Derek Carr got hurt, and the entire 2017 season started to have the feel of an impending tailspin.
Part of that set of unfortunate circumstances could be fixed as soon as this Sunday. The Raiders host the San Diego Chargers in Week 6, and Carr could be back in the saddle.
Tireless ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter tweeted out the latest prognosis:
Carr suffered a transverse process fracture during Oakland’s Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, and the initial reports suggested he would be out 2-4 weeks. A return this Sunday would be ahead of schedule, which would make a lot of fans happy since E.J. Manuel is involved in the offense while Carr is out.
Manuel hasn’t been terrible as a substitute, but he hasn’t inspired anyone to think he can carry the team for any length of time, completing less than 60 percent of his passes with a QB rating under even his career average of 77.1. Carr, on the other hand, had a stinker of an outing against the Redskins but has otherwise been pretty great this season.
Yet there are reasons to believe even his return might not be enough to right the ship. Marshawn Lynch has yet to rediscover his Beast Mode form, averaging under 3.5 yard a carry so far. The Raiders as a team are in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing.
While Michael Crabtree has been great when healthy, Amari Cooper seems lost in his third season, a year when many wideouts find another level to their games. Cooper has almost incredibly caught just four passes for 23 yards over the last three games.
Last but not least, the Raiders defense has also been a bottom 10 unit, giving up just over 350 yards a game. Carr will be welcome sight back under center, but the team almost needs him to play at an MVP level right away to keep pace in a division that includes both the Broncos and the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, and that could be too much to expect for a man just returning from injury.