Perry: Derek Carr shares first impressions of ‘genius' Josh McDaniels


In a little less than a month, Derek Carr will be kicking off his first training camp under the guidance of Josh McDaniels. And, from afar, Patriots fans will be able to observe as though they're getting a glimpse of an alternate reality from the Ghost of Football Yet To Come.

Indeed, if Ebenezer Scrooge was a Patriots fan, even that prude would be encouraged to check in on what was happening in Sin City.

It's not just because McDaniels spent the better part of two decades here, or because Chandler Jones and former Patriots front-office director Dave Ziegler have made their way to the Raiders to try to win the franchise another Lombardi Trophy. The majority of the fascination lies specifically in what will ultimately determine the new regime's success there: the connection between Carr and McDaniels.

McDaniels will be implementing his offense in a new locale, with a capable and bought-in quarterback -- a quarterback to whom McDaniels' last pupil has been compared since before he was drafted

Both Carr (31 years old) and Mac Jones (24 in September) are pocket passers. Both are accurate. Both have been labeled as conservative decision-makers. Both are considered talented processors. Some metrics suggest the two had similar 2021 seasons from a production standpoint.

Therein lies the intrigue from our standpoint.

Under McDaniels' leadership, could the Raiders offense offer a window into how things might've looked for Jones and Co. had McDaniels stuck around Foxboro to usher the young quarterback into his early 30s?

The Patriots will have a chance to see how that relationship between McDaniels and Carr is functioning up close as they head to Nevada for joint practices later this summer, a preseason game on Aug. 26 and a regular-season Sunday night matchup on Dec. 18.

According to Carr, who spoke to reporters one week ahead of the American Century Championship Celebrity tournament, McDaniels has already taken his game up a notch. 

"The depth of the conversations that we're having is encouraging," Carr told NBC Sports Boston. "It's fun for me. The best part of my game has always been the mental side. And that's how Josh is. He's a genius when it comes to scheming things up and teaching his system and getting the best out of his players.

"I feel like a better football player. And I've had a lot of great coaches. He's come in, he's seen those things, 'Wow, that's awesome. What about this, too? What about this here?' It's helping me grow. It's been really fun to be around him."

A look at Carr's revolving door of offensive coaches over the years may provide further evidence as to why he's thrilled to have McDaniels in his ear.

Carr had Greg Olson as his offensive coordinator as a rookie starter. Then came Bill Musgrave, Todd Downing and Olson again. His head coaches were Dennis Allen (fired during Carr's rookie season), Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden (fired last season) and Rich Bisaccia. None lasted four full years. Gruden was the only Super Bowl-winning offensive czar on the list, and he was 10 years removed from his last head-coaching gig when he was plopped into Carr's life.

Having McDaniels take the reins has to feel like a breath of fresh air. Though he's new to the program, he has a proven track record of quarterback development having watched Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Mac Jones all improve under his watch. Carr -- drafted the same year as Garoppolo, 26 picks earlier -- is at a different stage of his career than those passers were when they were initially introduced to McDaniels, but the excitement for Carr remains.

"One thing Josh has done is he's come in and he says, 'This is not New England. This is Las Vegas. We're gonna do things our way. I've learned a lot of great things there that we're going to implement, but I also have some things that I want to do my way,'" Carr said.

"I think culture-wise he's brought in his own vision and his own way of doing things. It's different than what he wanted to do in Denver. It's different than New England. It's what we're going to do in Las Vegas. He's a great guy, and I absolutely love him.

"Dave, our general manager, him and Dave have just been great. I'm texting with them all the time, playing golf with Josh, talking about ideas and things like that. It's been awesome. I really have enjoyed my time, and I'm looking forward to, years to come, learning from him." 

As much interest as the Carr-and-McDaniels combination will generate back this way, the reality is that Jones was unlikely to ever experience the years-long McDaniels mentorship that has Carr so optimistic.

McDaniels wanted to be a head coach. Bill Belichick isn't going anywhere anytime soon, those close to him believe, and McDaniels was excited at the opportunity to build something around Carr and alongside Ziegler when the opportunity presented itself. The marriage between Jones and McDaniels -- having gone as well as it did in Year 1, thereby increasing McDaniels' viability as a head-coaching candidate -- simply wasn't meant to last.

Still, that won't stop Patriots fans from wondering what might've been if McDaniels and Carr are lighting up scoreboards in the fall. The ones with the power to prevent such grumbling? Jones, Belichick and the duo tabbed to help replace McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

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