Oakland Raiders to Start Rookie Derek Carr in Opener
Oakland rookie Derek Carr will start the season opener against the New York Jets, becoming the first Raiders quarterback to start the first game of his rookie season.
Coach Dennis Allen announced Monday that Carr would be the starter for the foreseeable future ahead of Matt Schaub, who struggled in the preseason and has been hampered by a sore elbow.
"We've seen signs of Derek Carr's development from the day he stepped on campus here to where he is at right now," Allen said. "We've seen him grow by leaps and bounds and I think he's ready to accept the challenge."
Schaub was anointed starter after being acquired in a trade from Houston in March but has been outplayed by Carr all summer. Carr solidified the starting job by throwing three touchdown passes and leading the Raiders to the end zone four times in as many drives against Seattle last week.
"It's not an indictment on Matt Schaub at all," Allen said. "I feel very confident in Matt Schaub. I think it says more about we feel Derek Carr is in his progression."
Neither Carr nor Schaub was available in the locker room Monday. Both are scheduled to talk to the media Tuesday.
Carr, a second-round pick out of Fresno State in May, will become the 18th starting quarterback for the Raiders since the start of the 2003 season.
Carr was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football last season. He threw for 5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions in a spread offense at Fresno State that included many quick screens and almost exclusively shotgun formations.
But he also played one year in college in a pro-style offense under former coach Pat Hill and has made the transition back to that kind of system since joining the Raiders.
Carr played well in the preseason, completing 66.7 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, one interception and a 108.2 passer rating. He showed the strong arm needed to stretch the field, completing 11 of 18 passes more than 10 yards downfield for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Receiver James Jones, who spent the past six seasons catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, had high praise for the rookie.
"It didn't surprise me at all," Jones said. "I've been calling him baby A-rod since he got here."
Carr joins his older brother, David, as rookies to start in the season opener. According to STATS, they are the only brothers to do that since at least 1950. David won his debut for the expansion Houston Texans against Dallas in 2002 but never developed into the quarterback the Texans were hoping for when they picked him first overall.
Derek Carr faces a tall task in the opener as Jets coach Rex Ryan's defenses have been tough on rookie quarterbacks. Russell Wilson is the only rookie in eight tries to beat Ryan's Jets in his first start against them, with the eight quarterbacks combining to complete just 48.3 percent of their passes and posting a 61.1 passer rating.
"He's not your typical rookie," center Stefen Wisniewski said. "He's got an NFL quarterback older brother that's been teaching him for years. He understands defenses at a very advanced level more than most rookies would. I think Derek gets way more prepared than most rookies would be."
This marks the second straight season that the veteran quarterback acquired by general manager Reggie McKenzie in the offseason to be the starter has lost the job before the season opener.
Last year, Matt Flynn struggled in the preseason and had a sore elbow before being beaten out for the starting job by Terrelle Pryor. Flynn started one game when Pryor was hurt before being released.
Now Schaub is following a similar pattern.
"He's disappointed," Allen said. "I think any competitor would be. He's handling it like a pro. Listen it's not an easy situation to be in. But he's a real pro. He's been around football for a long time, he understands how things operate. ... He'll be ready when his number is called."