About that whole no-rookies-starting-Week-1 business ...
We might need to revisit that statistic in the next 10 days. The Oakland Raiders have a fading, injured Matt Schaub who suddenly not so certain to start the opener against the New York Jets as he battles a sore elbow and a surging Derek Carr.
As Schaub rested, Carr took the reins after sitting out the third preseason game with a rib injury and after being tested for a concussion. I asked his older brother David for 120 Sports earlier Thursday what he thought the start meant for Derek, and David knew bro was ready for the challenge.
"I think practice-wise, since he's gotten there, he's shown [the Raiders coaches] exactly what they've wanted to see," David said. "There's a reason they are putting him out there to start the game."
We saw that reason pretty quickly Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, when Carr completed 5-of-7 passes against the starting Seahawks defense (yeah, THAT defense) and led a 12-play touchdown drive.
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Next time up, even better. After the Raiders recovered the ensuing kickoff, Carr hit Denarius Moore down the right sideline with a perfect pass on a 36-yard touchdown.
Third possession, Carr again made it a one-pass possession. After a long punt return, Carr took over at the Seahawks' 20 and drilled a pill to tight end Mychal Rivera for another score.
On his fourth trip on the field, Carr hit Rivera for another 27 yards and then capped his fourth scoring drive (and third TD pass of the night) with a pretty 11-yard back-shoulder throw to Moore, who hasn't looked this good in a couple seasons it seems like.
Four possessions, four touchdown drives. Head coach Dennis Allen had seen plenty. He yanked the rookie who hadn't played in almost two weeks, as if he'd seen enough to feel comfortable going with Carr when the games start counting. This almost seemed like a page out of the Al Davis playbook, interestingly, where Al used to yell down "take him off the field!" if a player was looking too good in a workout or in preseason. Always seeking that competitive advantage.
On Twitter, #startthecarr is a thing. A very big thing. You do what Carr did — 11-of-13 passing, 143 yards, three touchdowns passing — to the Seahawks' starters, reserves, whatever, and people are going to hum about it pretty loudly. But this isn't a new thing, either. Carr had been lighting up practices, too, and had he been able to finish the second preseason game and play in the third one against the Green Bay Packers, this talk might have started a week or more earlier.
So is this a thing? Could Carr actually start against Rex Ryan's Jets and their possibly shorthanded secondary?
Don't rule it out. It might have a little something to do with Schaub and his elbow, but after Thursday, it has just as much to do with Carr and his exciting arm talent.
And who do the Raiders play later in the season? Oh yeah, these same Seahawks. It won't be this easy, no matter who is under center, and the game is in Seattle — little different set of circumstances up there.
I originally projected Carr to take over in Week 3 when I looked at when various quarterback benchings might occur around the league earlier this week. I picked Carr as the first to come off the bench (post Sam Bradford) but not in Week 1. Just thought the Raiders might slow play this one a bit with Carr having been banged up not long ago.
I am willing to admit that I might be wrong on that one.
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