Fox Sports' Jay Glazer had the news:
Breaking: Raiders players have been informed that the team is making the switch at QB and starting Derek Carr over Matt Schaub— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 1, 2014
It was the right call, and one that coach Dennis Allen should take pride in. While Schaub may have been viewed as the player who gave the Raiders the best chance to win in a make-or-break 2014 season, Carr has clearly outperformed Schaub in the preseason, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Derek Carr named Raiders starting QB ... he completed 67% of passes in preseason. Matt Schaub completed only 51%— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2014
Unlike the stubborn Jacksonville Jaguars, who refuse to start Blake Bortles over incumbent Chad Henne, Oakland's sense of urgency to win now is thrusting Carr into action.
Allen shared his thoughts on Carr's rise to the top of the depth chart following Monday's practice, via CBSSports.com's John Breech:
We made the decision to go with Derek Carr as the quarterback. There were a lot of factors involved in that. It's not an indictment on Matt Schaub at all, I still feel very confident in Matt Schaub. [...] We've seen signs of Derek Carr's development from the day he started camp this year until where he's at right now. We've seen him grow by leaps and bounds and I think he's ready to accept the challenge.
The three quarterbacks drafted ahead of Carr in Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater will ride the pine to start the year. Carr is the only first-year signal-caller to be under center in Week 1.
Although Schaub's elbow soreness was presumably part of what has reportedly thrust Carr into the starting role, Schaub declared himself fit enough to play, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Matt Schaub said the elbow soreness has been lingering for a few weeks, hasn’t affected his throwing. #Raiders— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 25, 2014
The Raiders had to have woken up to the fact that Carr may be the answer now and for the future at a position Oakland has struggled to address for years.
It would have been an ongoing "Black Hole" vortex of oblivion if Schaub were to remain ahead of Carr. Thankfully for Raider Nation, Allen went back on his strong words of endorsement, as Pro Football Focus' Adam Levitan pointed out:
DAllen on Schaub in May: "I think there's alot of tms out there that would love to have a top10 QB in this league. I feel like we have one."— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 1, 2014
Carr, a second-round pick at No. 36 overall, was the only senior in the upper echelon of QBs in the 2014 draft class. That edge in life experience and maturity has evidently prepared him the best to take the reins of a team that has gone 4-12 in the past two seasons.
In an AFC West division in which all three other teams made the playoffs last year, this is a tough time for Oakland to be at such an organizational crossroads. The initial hesitance to start Carr makes sense in that context.
And in addition to Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie's jobs being on the line, Oakland's future outlook regardless of how this season goes rests predominantly in Carr's hands.
This anecdote from former NFL executive Joe Banner is worth noting:
The Raiders have the oldest roster in the nfl, and a chance for a very high draft pick. Thats not a good combination.— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) August 31, 2014
How many games wil the Raiders win in 2014 with Derek Carr as QB?
Contrary to what appears feasible entering Week 1, Oakland is built to win now. Bold free-agent moves by McKenzie helped rebuild the defense, with marquee acquisitions like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith on the line.
Pro Bowler Donald Penn fills in at left tackle, while experienced vet Khalif Barnes moves to right tackle. Former New York Jet Austin Howard will offer more physicality at right guard between the tackles, which should all help Carr's protection and the Raiders' ability to establish the run and remain balanced.
A lot is being invested in the present Raiders, and Carr, unlike the other rookies save for Bortles, has looked the part in the preseason—and won the organization over.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com feels it's best to drive forward with Carr:
Like the Raiders riding with Derek Carr. For where that organization is, and with its future so uncertain, why not give him a shot?— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 1, 2014
Carr brings far more athleticism to the fold than Schaub does, too. Although he's demonstrated the ability to sling it from the pocket, a perhaps overlooked part of Carr's game is his ability to run. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash.
Dual-threat quarterbacks are becoming more prominent, but Carr is far better known for the rocket arm he has than his wheels. That could change, because while he appears to have a firm grasp of Oakland's offense, what may make or break the Raiders this season is their explosiveness.
Pro Football Focus illustrated the impact Carr's dynamic limb can have, as opposed to Schaub's declining arm:
Derek Carr on passes that were in the air for at least 10 yards in the preseason: 11 for 18 for 234 yards. 3 TD 0 INT— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 1, 2014
The Raiders had planned to bring Carr along slowly, with Schaub as the stopgap option for however long he could last. It turns out Schaub didn't last a single training camp before it became evident Carr was the superior option.
If Oakland didn't believe Carr could handle it, he wouldn't be handed the keys to the offense this soon. Schaub had every opportunity to seize the job yet failed to do so. Instead of sticking to their initial plans, the Raiders wisely went for a change of course in anointing Carr the starter.
This unprecedented move from the organization may be seen as a desperation declaration by some. However, with the way Carr has excelled thus far, there is far more reason for hope in Oakland than there has been in a long time.