The Oakland Raiders are a team in limbo right now. With head coach Dennis Allen entering his third year at the helm of the team, the pressure is building. The progress made by Allen and his coaching staff hasn’t been all too progressive and might have even started to take a trend downwards. Fortunately. that all might have changed with this year’s draft class.
The fifth overall selection was held by the Raiders, who would use it to acquire a stud pass rusher in Khalil Mack, formerly of the University of Buffalo. Mack was one of the best defensive prospects on the board and is sure to have plenty of great seasons ahead of him, however, it would be the team’s next draft pick that might prove to be pivotal for their future.
With the second pick in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Oakland selected Fresno State’s quarterback, Derek Carr.
Now, why might a second round pick who was taken only a few short months ago already be considered a more valuable pick than first rounder Khalil Mack? If you were paying any attention to last Thursday night’s final round of preseason games, you would know why.
In the final preseason exhibition for Oakland, the Raiders would square off with the reigning Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks at home with Derek Carr starting the game at quarterback. He would be leading the second string and back ups against Seattle’s starting defense to begin the game.
Most veteran players would be more than intitmidated to face off against the Legion of Boom, let alone a rookie quarterback. That wasn’t the case for Carr. At least, if he was, he didn’t show it.
What transpired next could essentially turn out to be the turning point for the Oakland Raiders.
With a heap of a task looming in front of Derek Carr and the Raiders reserve offensive unit, the rookie signal caller dove right into the thick of it.
The Raiders started their first offensive possession by giving Carr a little boost of confidence. Carr connected with fullback Jamize Olawale on an easy throw out to the flats, who then turned it up to the right side of the field and was tackled only after racing past the first down marker. A good start for the Raiders.
The next play would be a handoff to running back Latavius Murray, who would get stuffed up the middle for no gain. Then, Carr took a shot at arguably the top defensive back in the league.
It was 2nd and 10 on Oakland’s own 44-yard line. Carr dropped back in the pocket and, while under pressure, threw out to wide receiver Denarius Moore, who was running down the sideline on a go-route. Cornerback Richard Sherman was with him every step of the way and easy deflected the pass out of bounds for an incompletion.
Now, this would be an indicator for most quarterbacks that maybe you shouldn’t throw over to where Sherman was playing for the rest of the game. Not for Carr.
He would take the Raiders down the length of the field to score on a run by Murray into the end zone. Everything after this would seem to go Oakland’s way.
A fumble by the kickoff return team would give the Raiders offensive possession and just a short field to work with. On the first play of that drive, Derek Carr would fake a hand off to the running back, drop back and throw a beautiful ball right into the bucket of Denarius Moore for the first of two touchdown connections between the two teammates.
Oh, and it was Sherman who was covering Moore on that first touchdown catch.
Carr would end the night in the second quarter, finishing at 11/13 for 143 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Not too shabby for a rookie going up against the Legion of Boom.
Stats, however, do not tell the whole story. The Raiders looked energized with Carr in at quarterback. They looked like a team with a chip on it’s shoulder. Guys who played with confidence and toughness.
For a team that has been lacking a lot of both for some time now, this was quite the nice change of pace. If something a simple as having the precense of Derek Carr in the game gives the players around him the want and will to dig deep and play just that much harder, why not give him the opportunity to earn some experience?
Tomorrow, we will get to see Carr in his very first regular season action as Oakland heads off to face the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Will this be the start of good things to come for the Raiders organization?
Giving Derek Carr the nod at starting quarterback all but gives Oakland the best chance to win and, from what we’ve seen this preseason, he looks ready to go.