“Derek Carr is a Breath of Fresh Air in an NFL Lacking in Leadership”
In the last 2 weeks we’ve seen the best and worst of what the NFL has to offer in regards to leadership. Some passed, some were epic fails.
The Chicago Bears are a very proud organization, but it took a deep step backwards in their last game against their arch rival, the Green Bay Packers. At half time the Packers were winning 42-0. For the first time in 94 years a team had given up over 50 points in consecutive games.
The comments from the Packers players were strong and brutal. Wide receiver Randall Cobb said it was obvious “they laid down”. Defensive lineman Datone Jones said the Packers believe in their quarterback and it’s obvious the Bears don’t. He also said “when you don’t believe in your quarterback, you begin to just play for yourself. We don’t have that in Green Bay”.
Jay Cutler is 31 years old but with his unshaven face, he looks more like a beat up 45 year old. On the sidelines he looks bored, disinterested and distant. He also now has a reputation of being a coach killer and a player that is not liked by coaches or teammates. Add head coach Marc Trestman’s emotionless gaze, and it’s a very bad look in the windy city.
Lamarr Houston started the ball rolling with his moment in the sun for the Bears. Down by 4 touchdowns against the New England Patriots, he finally got his first sack of the year late in the fourth quarter against the Patriots backups. He decided that he needed to celebrate the moment by jumping up and dancing. Unfortunately his knee knew that 300 lb men jumping in the air isn’t ever a good idea and his knee buckled. The result was a torn ACL that would keep him out for the season. When interviewed afterwards, Houston laughed and said, “It was probably not a good thing for me to celebrate when my team was so far behind but it’s not a problem because things happen”. He sounds broken hearted (sarcastic cough).
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled this year. He’s the poster child for the cookie cutter quarterback that the NFL has created. He’s fast, super athletic and big with a strong arm. On the bad side he still struggles playing quarterback at the NFL level and at times his passes couldn’t hit water if it was dropped off a boat. Pretty much most of the college quarterbacks are more athlete than quarterback but that story is for another day.
Even though he has struggled, he has also stayed as brash and arrogant as ever. After the 5-4 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime, he posted a photo on Twitter and Instagram to all of his “haters”. It was him putting a finger to his mouth saying “shhhhhh”. The 49er fans have never embraced Kaepernick and they never will because of this kind of brash immaturity. His over sensitivity to online criticism would borderline on bizarre if it wasn’t so prevalent with so many celebrities and athletes.
Often disgruntled and immature Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t quite like the comments made to him by a Detroit Lion fan after Chicago’s record collapse against the Packers. Marshall started a twitter fight with the fan, and we all know those end well for famous people. Marshall challenged the fan to a fight! He said that he would pay the fan up to $25,000 if the fan would fight him and beat him. The fan took him up on it telling him to come to Detroit. Reports of Don King reaching out to Marshall after his melt down were greatly exaggerated. Brandon Marshall has done a lot of work for charity and seems to do nice things but at his age to want to fight people because he’s too insecure to handle criticism is pathetic but unfortunately the norm.
After spraining my neck from shaking my head, I then read some of the things Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. Derek Carr has shown a lot of potential and even though he struggles at times when he’s pressured, most of the signs are good.
He has shown a level headedness and calmness on the field that most young quarterbacks don’t have. He has a strong arm and is very accurate passing on the run. Again, he still has a weakness handling a pass rush and sometimes looks antsy while in the pocket but I think with experience he will become more and more comfortable.
Where Carr really excels though, is in his leadership abilities. He’s said several times that he has to play better for them to win. He’s also kept his head in talking to the media and says all of the right things. This last weekend he said he felt bad that the team has to suffer because he is learning to be a quarterback in the NFL. Along with his humbleness, his work ethic is also turning heads and he has said a few times, “I’ll work harder than anyone”. In today’s pass happy NFL where the rules have hamstrung defensive backs and pass rushers, it’s imperative that Carr grow into a big time passer. NFL & team records are plummeting due to the new rules and its imperative the Raiders have a great passing game.
Derek Carr has been very old school in most of his life decisions. While many young players are partying with groupies in clubs, the 23 year old is married, already has a child and considers his faith in God to be the most important thing in his life. His maturity and confidence is evident on and off the field and he doesn’t get too caught up in the attention, good or bad. It’s easy to get a big head or lose your confidence due to fan’s of today’s fervor, but he keeps an even keel with his emotions and takes things in stride.
You can also see it in the confidence that the Raiders players have in him. Many are hopeful for the future and they believe in him. Wins are going to be very hard to come by for Oakland with their brutal schedule this year, but after many failed draft picks and attempts at getting a quarterback, Carr seems to be the type of stable and talented player that the Raiders have needed for a long time; on and off the field. His talent and leadership are becoming rare in the NFL and he’s a breath of fresh air in a league full of bad behavior.