We don't really know yet what the Raiders have in Derek Carr, but we know enough that Oakland has tagged him to be their starter already. Is it the right decision to start him so quickly or is it too early for the rookie out of Fresno State?
Well. first and foremost, Matt Schaub was not playing well enough to be the starter. He was already battling arm fatigue and even while healthy he was not performing well enough to keep his job safe. He needed to come into Oakland and show that 2012 was just a fluke, instead he all but confirmed that the Pro Bowl level Schaub was extinct.
Matt McGloin had actually outplayed both Schaub and Carr for most of the preseason. However, how much of a chance did he really have at leapfrogging Derek for the starting job once Schaub showed he was not going to be reliable?
Basically zero. Derek Carr is the QB of the future, Matt McGloin is not. They were not going to start a different young quarterback who already had a cult like following unless they were beyond certain that Carr was not ready. If McGloin started and played even moderately well then his being a fan favorite would make a transition to Carr later on very difficult to do.
Besides the factors involving the quarterbacks that will not be starting, there was also the outstanding performance by Carr himself that played a big factor in his starting. It was amazing watching the clinic that he put on against Seattle in the final game of the preseason. He made it an easy decision with that performance.
I would say to answer my initial question, it is the correct decision to start Derek. It might prove to be too early to start him if he struggles and loses his confidence, but at the same time he absolutely won the opportunity to start. Sometimes you just have to lay your cards down and let the chips fall where they may.
What we should expect out of Carr in his first start this Sunday against the New York Jets is a way tougher question to answer than whether starting him at all is the correct call. We all want him to come out with the type of performance he had to finish up the preseason but that is not a realistic expectation to have.
The truth is that he is likely to struggle as a rookie starter. He is going to be nervous and excited to get out there and prove the coaches right, and those jitters usually mean mistakes. He will be facing a lot of blitzes from the Jets defense that he has never seen before and New York's front 7 is going to be extra ramped up to feast on the young signal caller.
He is going to need a strong running game and great play from the offensive line right out the gate, both things that the Raiders were planning with Matt Schaub anyway. It is much more important now with the rookie behind center over the veteran in Schaub though. The rookie needs the support much more than a veteran would need it.
That means the onus is now on Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray to take the pressure off of Carr by moving the chains with their legs. There should be a lot of runs and a lot of screen passes to combat the blitzes that Carr is going to face in the early going of this season. Those need to be successful for the Raiders to get the best out of Derek in the beginning of the season.
No matter what ends up happening, it couldn't be more exciting to have the Carr Era begin here in Oakland. It is clearly the right decision to start him and now we just have to be patient with what happens next. We all want the same incredible performance he gave us last week vs Seattle, but even if he struggles we are now in it for the long haul with him.
Let the fact that the new era of Raiders football has begun ring in your ears for a while. The QB of the future is actually the QB of the NOW. The cards have been laid down, the chips are already in the air. It will be a whole lot of fun watching where those chips end up falling.