Preseason games don't count, but Derek Carr's dominant display against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night gives the Oakland Raiders a worthy excuse to jettison Matt Schaub as their starting quarterback.
In the fourth and final exhibition content, Oakland reached the end zone in all four of Carr's series. He finished his night with 143 yards and three touchdowns, completing 84 percent of his passing attempts.
Just to be clear, he wasn't showing up Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom, although the starters made a brief cameo during the opening drive. While it's just the preseason, Carr's strong performance forces the Raiders to wonder what exactly they have to lose by playing the rookie in Week 1 over the acquired veteran.
The Raiders haven't made the postseason since their Super Bowl appearance during the 2002 season. That drought is unlikely to end regardless of who takes the starting snaps under center. Heck, they haven't even registered a winning season during that stretch.
So why not re-ignite a dejected fanbase by giving them a look ahead? The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami believes the young gunslinger should get the nod.
Schaub is 33 and coming off a horrible season. Carr is 23 and just starting his career. Which guy would give a team long-term momentum?— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) August 29, 2014
If Oakland had a loaded batch of receivers and a treacherous defense ready to wreak havoc, starting Schaub would be the prudent decision. After all, should we forget about his career 64.0 completion percentage, 7.63 yards per attempt and 89.9 quarterback rating after one down year?
It seems cruel, but probably. The 33-year-old endured the worst season of his career in 2013, mustering a mediocre 6.45 yards per attempt while throwing 14 interceptions through 10 games.
Who should start Week 1 for the Oakland Raiders?
At his best, Schaub benefited from an impenetrable offensive line that ignited a world-beating rushing attack. That gave the quarterback the simple duty of baiting the defense into mistakes on play-action passes. Throwing to Andre Johnson didn't hurt either.
He's also dealing with a sore elbow that has kept him out of a practice. Last year, a similar ailment contributed to Matt Flynn losing the starting job to Terrelle Pryor in an eerily familiar situation.
Meanwhile, the No. 36 pick has opened eyes throughout the entire preseason. Prior to his outburst against Seattle, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport spoke to an unidentified general manager convinced of Carr's staying power.
Psyched to see #Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr tonight. Spoke with a GM this week who had just watched tape of him: “Carr is their future”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 28, 2014
Also before Thursday's game, offensive coordinator Greg Olson applauded his maturity to the San Jose Mercury News' Jerry McDonald: "I've said it from Day 1, the guy's comfortable in the huddle," Olson said. "The game's not too big for him. ... I don't think the game's too fast for him, which a lot of times is a concern with a rookie quarterback."
It has been discussed that this will mark the first season in seven years that a rookie quarterback won't start in Week 1. Let's put that memo on hold, as Carr might have forced Oakland into making a bold move.