The Oakland Raiders came into the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks with some uncertainty at quarterback. Matt Schaub sat out the game with an elbow injury and has struggled in the preseason. With Schaub on the shelf, the Raiders turned to rookie Derek Carr and he impressed. His performance Thursday night, made the statement that he has the ability to be the starting quarterback, but the coaching staff is still behind Schaub, for now.
“I think the great thing is we have three guys I think that can be starting quarterbacks for us,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “I’m very happy with where we’re at with the quarterback room. I think the biggest thing is we have to see where Matt [Schaub] is when he comes in on Monday.”
Carr was brilliant against the Seahawks completing 11-13 for 143 yards and three touchdowns. On the first series, Carr went against the defending Super Bowl champion's first team defense and helped orchestrate a scoring drive. With the help of running back Latavius Murray and his power running style, the Raiders marched 68 yards on 12 plays. The drive was capped off by a Murray five yard touchdown run.
On the next series, Carr began a stretch of extraordinary play. After Keith McGill strip, the Raiders took advantage of the good field position. On the first play of the series, Carr dropped back and fired a dart to wide receiver Denarius Moore in stride for a 36 yard touchdown. After a Seattle punt, Carr and Murray led the Raiders down the field again. Carr found tight end Mychal Rivera on a 20 yard touchdown. Rivera showed tremendous concentration as he hauled in a tipped pass while sliding to make the catch.
On Carr's final series of the game, it was much of the same. Carr and Murray helped the Raiders into scoring position where Carr tossed a beautiful back shoulder throw to Denarius Moore in the corner of the endzone for the 11 yard touchdown. He showed his quick release and pin point accuracy on the big time throw. Carr finished a remarkable stretch helping the Raiders score 28 unanswered and scoring on four consecutive series.
“I felt good,” Carr said. “Our receivers were getting open. The offensive line – if you watch that first third down, I’m just sitting back there patting the ball. We can talk about a great throw on third down and all this, but if that protection’s not there, it doesn’t happen, because those guys, we had so much time that I could throw that. It felt good, but at the same time, I felt our whole offense was feeling that way.”
That comment from a rookie is very telling. Carr is a leader. His performance has put the Raiders' coaching staff in a situation where they have to make a decision. All along they have insisted Matt Schaub is the starting quarterback. Dennis Allen has not changed that plan.
“That’s been the plan all along,” Allen said of Schaub starting. “But obviously, Derek [Carr] continues to get better, continues to improve and, like I said before, I think we have a good situation in that room.”
Allen actually left a little leeway in that statement. The Raiders have a decision to make as far as the starting quarterback goes. Early next week, Schaub is going to test his elbow to see if he has made progress. Carr did his part by taking advantage of his opportunity to make his case. The Raiders begin the regular season against the New York Jets Sunday, September 7th.
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