Earlier this week, I wrote an article advocating starting Matt McGloin over Matt Schaub, given the assumption that the Raider organization is not going to start Derek Carr, no matter what. When I wrote that article, Derek Carr had not played since the Lions game on August 15th and had preformed decently, but not spectacularly, in his two preseason appearances. I am happy to say that I now stand corrected. Matt McGloin should not start. Neither should Matt Schaub. Derek Carr, the rookie out of Fresno State, should be the starting quarterback for the 2014 Oakland Raiders, beginning next Sunday in New Jersey.
Clearly, Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie are going to be choosing their words carefully this week regarding the quarterback situation. Schaub was supposed to start, it’s “always been the plan.” But after last night’s dominant performance against the Seattle Seahawks, it’s obvious that Carr is this team’s true quarterback.Any attempt to install Schaub as the starter would be foolhardy and would likely not survive a single poor half by Schaub. The Raider Nation knows who they want, and we know this more strongly than we have any time in recent memory. We all remember Terrelle Pryor’s exciting third game of the preseason against the Bears last year, the one that cemented him as the starter over Matt Flynn in all of our minds. Carr’s performance last night was ten times more impressive. We all remember how excited we were for the Jamarcus Russell era to start, despite him not having thrown a pass in his rookie preseason. At neither of those moments were we this excited, nor did we have as good of a reason to be.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter or knows me in real life knows I’ve been high on Derek Carr for a long time because I am a lifelong Fresno State Bulldogs fan. I rooted for David Carr in the memorable 2001 season when I watched them beat Wisconsin at three in the morning in my barracks in Okinawa. I rooted for Trent Dilfer in the early 90’s and played my high school football alongside Henry Ellard’s nephew. I watched Derek Carr as a sophomore leading Pat Hill’s run-first, power-I offense and I knew he could be something special. I watched him beat Rutgers in overtime, and was in the seats at that filthy heap in San Diego to watch him lead an exciting overtime drive to beat San Diego State. I also watched him get harrassed by USC defenders and beaten by a superior scheme in the Las Vegas Bowl. I said time and time again I thought he was the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft, while the media focused in on Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. When the Raiders drafted him in the second round, I cheered like a madman in my car.
Derek Carr finally proved me right last night. He went out against a Seattle Seahawks defense that is widely regarded as the best in the league and did work. In case you missed it, it looked something like this:
He completed a key third down pass to Denarius Moore right in the face of “best corner in the league” Richard Sherman. While Moore had to make an impressive, athletic grab, the ball was also put on a spot where Sherman had no chance at all of being able to defend it. His worst pass of the night was thrown so powerfully that reigning Super Bowl MVP, Malcolm Smith, could only deflect it, and it ended up being hauled in by Rivera for another TD. Carr threw a perfect back shoulder fade to Moore on the left side of the field (that is a TOUGH throw) in a spot where only Moore could get it for another touchdown. Even the easiest throw he made all night, the 36-yard TD strike to a wide open Moore was made possible because of a well-executed play fake, then stepping up in the pocket to avoid an onrushing Jordan Hill and shoulder faking to the left before dropping a perfect rainbow on Moore, who had a good 6 yard lead on a very confused Phillip Adams. He made NFL starter throws. Carr got the ball out quickly and with velocity and more often than not in spots where either his guy would get it, or no one would. He also seemed to make a change at the line on the Raiders first score that may have made it possible for Latavius Murray to get into the end zone. He completed all four of his 3rd down pass attempts. Carr also finished the night with more TD passes than incompletions and a near perfect passer rating.
For a rookie, Carr’s execution as a passer and field general was impressive. But it wasn’t the only impressive thing. Like Terrelle Pryor had once done for the team, in fact maybe more so than Pryor, he got the team excited and that excitement translated into performance. Denarius Moore made plays like he was back at Tennessee. Mychael Rivera made an impossible catch on a tipped ball while falling backwards. The line – most of them first team players assured of a roster spot – blocked for him. Latavius Murray ran hard for him. The Raider special teams unit went out and got a turnover to get him the ball again. The defense, after getting sliced through in three plays by the Seahawks first unit, went out and dominated the rest of the Seahawks offensive depth chart, and did not allow the offense to pick up another first down until Carr had been replaced by McGloin. The 50,000+ fans in attendance at O.co Coliseum were ecstatic. Raider fans on Twitter and Facebook went nuts. Raider beat writers went nuts. It was electric.
It is clear that the Raiders have found their starting quarterback, for this year and for years to come. Matt Schaub was always an insurance policy, and its abundantly clear he is now an insurance policy that this team doesn’t need. Matt McGloin may be the most capable backup quarterback in football, but he’s not the starter for this franchise. The rookie brings athletic ability, mental aptitude, work ethic and excitement to a team desperately in need of all those things from its leader. It’s time to Start the Carr.