By Sam McPherson
With the announcement late Monday that Derek Carr would the Oakland Raiders starting quarterback for their Week 1 matchup against the New York Jets on the road, it’s clear another new era has begun for the Silver & Black.
Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen showed firm confidence in his new rookie QB.
“After watching him all throughout training camp and in the preseason, you just see a guy that continues to develop and continues to be mature beyond his years as a quarterback and a guy that we feel very comfortable putting him out there and helping us win football games,” Allen said. “So, we made that decision, and we’ll move forward with that.”
After trading a sixth-round pick in March for former Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, the Raiders went out and took Carr in the second round of the NFL Draft in early May. Both QBs played roughly the same amount in the preseason, and the rookie vastly outplayed the veteran—leading to this decision.
In 45 preseason passing attempts, Carr completed 30 passes for 326 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His QB rating (108.2) was by far the best on the team this August.
In comparison, Schaub completed just 24 of 47 passes for 218 yards, no touchdowns and one pick. He also lost a fumble in preseason play. Schaub’s 55.1 QB rating this exhibition season was below his career mark of 89.8 over ten seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and the Texans.
So perhaps it wasn’t that tough for Allen to make this call.
And the team’s reaction has been strong in favor of Carr, too:
- Running back Marcel Reece: “Every rookie matures at a different rate, and he came in as a mature rookie, and he’s matured every single day that we’ve seen him, and he’s continued to grow and be a playmaker on the field.”
- Wide receiver James Jones: “I was talking to a couple of the guys actually on Thursday when we played. I was saying, even if he were to come out there and threw five interceptions, he’s real calm, real cool in the pocket. He really acts like he’s been there before. When you see a rookie come in like that and he’s able to handle himself like that, he’s ready to play. Whether he’s a quarterback or a wide receiver or whatever, he looked ready to play.”
That’s strong praise from a couple of veterans who will be working closely with Carr.
Yes, the Raiders are taking on the Jets this weekend, and New York Head Coach Rex Ryan is known as a defensive guru. That means Carr will be tested thoroughly in his first NFL action on Sunday.
But it sounds like the kid is ready, and the team is behind him. Carr won’t win or lose the game by himself, in all likelihood, and his teammates are ready to go into the unknown with him at the helm.
Carr earned his draft position at Fresno State, where he completed 66.7% of his passes over 44 games. He also threw 113 TDs and only 24 INTs during his time as a Bulldog. Carr tossed a numbing 50 touchdown passes in his senior season (2013).
How will that translate to the NFL? Only time will tell, but FootballOutsiders.com argues the best predictors for a college quarterback’s future performance in the NFL are completion percentage and games started, and Carr has those attributes in aces.
Of course, every NFL QB needs a good supporting cast, and with the other overhauls on the Raiders offense this season, Carr may just have that support as well.
The Derek Carr Era has begun in Oakland. Only time will tell how long it lasts.
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.