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How much did Derek Carr improve over the season?

Saints QB clearly found a groove to conclude 2023. Here’s what that “groove” looked like.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In this article, we’ll take a look at the statistical trends produced by New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr.

It was obvious that Carr improved throughout his first season with the team; however, just how much did he improve and were there any obvious causes? The graphs below might point towards a few clues.

QBR

According to ESPN, “QBR incorporates all of a quarterback’s contributions to winning, including how he impacts the game on passes, rushes, turnovers, and penalties.” Therefore, Carr’s QBR over the season should be a great indication of his overall performance.

There was a clear increase in Carr’s QBR throughout the year, especially in the last four games of the season. His average QBR was 56.4, which was his lowest average since 2018. You can see how poorly Carr played in weeks 10-13, which resulted in some brutal losses that may have cost New Orleans an NFC South title.

Touchdowns

Derek Carr came into New Orleans labeled as a poor red-zone quarterback. For over half of the season, that seemed to be true. But around week 13, something changed.

Derek Carr threw for 25 touchdowns this season and 14 of them came in the last five weeks of the season. The redzone play calling seemed much more efficient and Carr looked far more comfortable. This wasn’t just true for Carr, but the team’s red zone touchdown efficiency was 60% in the final three weeks which was 12th-highest in the league.

Yards per Game

Carr’s passing yardage remained relatively stagnant as the season progressed. YPG is not always the best indicator of performance, but it surely can’t hurt.

He finished the season with 3,878 yards or 228 yards per game, which wasn’t great. However, he could have exceeded 4,000 yards this season without missing a few quarters to injury. It should be noted that 228 YPG is the second lowest of his career, but in the final three games of the season, Carr threw for 251 yards per game.

Sacks Per Game

There was a clear connection between how many times Carr was sacked and how well he performed throughout the season.

That might sound like a “no duh” statement, but I believe it further solidifies the need to improve the offensive line heading into 2024. Carr clearly became more confident as the season went on, and the offensive line improvement probably played a big role in it. Hopefully, the 2024 Saints offensive line will perform well early instead of waiting until week 10 to start effectively protecting the quarterback.

In conclusion, Carr certainly performed better as the season went on, especially in the final four games. There’s probably a myriad of reasons why, including play-calling efficiency, offensive line performance, and general familiarity with the offense. To win the NFC South in 2024, Carr, the coaching staff, and the offensive line have to get grooving early and take this offense to the next level. If the last four games of the season can be repeated throughout 2024, there is hope for this team under its veteran quarterback, Derek Carr.