Even before Thursday night’s final exhibition game, reports indicated the Raiders believe Derek Carr is primed to play quarterback in the NFL.
Albert Breer of NFL.com reported this week that the coaching staff believes “Carr is ready to start, if needed,” with anointed No. 1 quarterback Matt Schaub on the sidelines with a sore throwing elbow.
Then Carr took the offensive reins Thursday night to blitz the Seahawks in what eventually was a 41-31 Oakland victory.
Carr was brilliant, completing 11-of-13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns before giving way to Matt McGloin in the second quarter.
“A brilliant quarter and a half in the fourth preseason game doesn’t mean Carr is ready to be a quality NFL starting quarterback,” wrote NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal during Thursday night’s game. “But we’ve seen enough this preseason to know he’s a better option than Schaub, who simply doesn’t have arm strength or confidence.”
In fact, of the three Raiders QBs on the roster, Schaub has looked far worse than either Carr – the second-round pick from Fresno State – or McGloin, the second-year pro who is No. 3 on the depth chart.
Over his past two outings, Carr has shown a strong arm, accuracy, confidence and an ability to make plays when needed.
Early in Thursday’s game, on a third-and-10, Carr completed a 12-yarder to Brice Butler for a first down on a drive that ended with a Latavius Murray touchdown run. On the next possession, Carr hit Denarius Moore for a 36-yard TD to give Oakland a 14-7 lead. He followed that up with a 20-yard scoring pass to tight end Mychal Rivera. Even though the ball was deflected, Rivera was able to make the grab.
On his final drive of the night, Carr connected with Moore again on a 10-yard scoring throw after earlier connecting with Rivera on a 27-yard pass on a key third-down play.
Carr’s initial drives, too, came against the starting Seattle defense, the No. 1 unit in the NFL in 2013. For the night, he led four TD drives.
With the exhibition season now complete, the Raiders over the next few days face some difficult roster decisions to get down to 53 players this Saturday.
However, the decision to name Carr the starter for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at the New York Jets seems like a no-brainer.
Carr is a rookie and there’s no telling how he’ll perform under the pressure of the regular season.
But Raiders coaches and their fans have seen enough of Schaub to know what to expect from him. And Carr certainly seems the better choice. Under Carr, the Raiders offense has come alive this month.