EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ–The Oakland Raiders have the oldest team in the league, with an average age of 27.
So why on earth would you start a rookie quarterback with a veteran-laden team?
It’s a plan that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
And rookie starter Derek Carr looked lost in the Raiders’ 19-14 loss to the Jets. He was inaccurate and indecisive.
It’s understandable. He’s making the jump from the Mountain West Conference to the NFL, a quantum leap.
He’s not playing against Hawaii and New Mexico anymore. As scouts would say, this guy isn’t “instant coffee.” He needs a lot of work.
In college, aside from facing marginal competition, he ran a spread offense with simple reads.
Carr was an ideal candidate to sit and learn this year.
“I think the question with Derek is pocket awareness, some of the intangible things,” said ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, a former NFL QB. “I think he needed to be handled delicately with the Raiders in his first year. There needed to be a transition time to adapt to the NFL game, to sit back and watch the NFL game, and obviously that isn’t going to happen.”
Carr had a terrific fourth preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, throwing three touchdown passes.
The fourth preseason game is basically meaningless, and it’s dangerous to overrate performances from this contest. It looks like the Raiders did just that.
Carr is starting over Matt Schaub, who started for seven seasons in Houston. He signed with Oakland this offseason, and the Raiders planned to start him until Carr was ready.
Two months ago, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said Schaub was still one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL, and it would take something “catastrophic” for him to not start the opener.
Well, something catastrophic just happened. The Raiders lost the opener with a quarterback who isn’t ready, against a Jets team they could have beaten.
They just needed a few more plays from the quarterback position.
Don’t let his two touchdown passes fool you. One was on basically a “Hail Mary” at the end, on a play James Jones made a great catch. The other was a short field after a Geno Smith pick in the first quarter. In between these two plays was a lot of ugliness, against a Jets team so thin at corner that they were starting safety Antonio Allen.
Schaub might not have the best arm in the league, but he knows what he’s doing out there. He can manage the game.
“Matt Schaub isn’t a super-talented thrower, but he’s a very good football player,” Dilfer said.
And according to a long-time Raider beat writer, a lot of veterans would prefer Schaub to be the starter.
It’s not that they don’t like Carr, who is a terrific guy, and has a lot of potential.
But this is a veteran team that needs a veteran quarterback.
“If it wasn’t for so many (Jets) penalties (11), I don’t think [the Raiders] would have crossed the 50, honestly,” said Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson.
The Raiders need to make a quarterback change before their season slips away.
Photo credit: Alan Schaefer