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This ‘disappointing’ preseason forecast nailed Derek Carr’s final passing stats

Opposing defenses weren’t the only ones who found the New Orleans Saints to be too predictable last year. We described the predictions for Derek Carr’s final stats from Bleacher Report as disappointing, but B/R’s Alex Kay had it down almost perfectly. And as we said at the time, this performance from Carr was a disappointment. We had higher expectations for him.

Still, here’s a hat tip to Kay for getting it right. Here are Kay’s predictions compared to the numbers Carr finished with in 2023 in parentheses:

  • 68% completion percentage (68.4%)

  • 3,901 passing yards (3,878)

  • 25 touchdown passes (25)

  • 13 interceptions (8)

  • 30 carries (32)

  • 118 rushing yards (40)

  • 1 touchdown run (0)

So Kay had Carr’s passing numbers down almost perfectly, though they overestimated how many times he’d turn the ball over. Carr was risk-averse to a fault last year and left some big-play opportunities on the field while being too eager to check down to Alvin Kamara or other receivers underneath coverage. Kay also expected Carr to make more plays with his legs than we actually saw.

But this doesn’t mean Carr can repeat this performance in 2024. It’s encouraging that he finished the season so strong; in his last five starts (where the Saints went 4-1), Carr completed 114 of 154 passes (74%) for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns, with just 2 interceptions. Extrapolate those averages over 17 games and you’d be left with 3,798 yards and 47 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. It isn’t realistic to expect 47 touchdown passes (the record in a 17-game season is 43, set by Tom Brady in 2021) or a 74% completion percentage but the yardage lines up with what we’ve seen before.

The point is that Carr needs to improve on those numbers. Extending the red zone efficiency he found late last year would be a big plus. Stepping up to make better throws under pressure between the 20-yard lines and playing like a quarterback his team can lean on would be massive. He averaged the second-fewest passing yards per game in his career last season. That can’t happen again. If he continues to underwhelm in a new offensive system, he might just be who he is. And that would be another disappointment.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire