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Lowell Cohn: Derek Carr impressed, but Matt Schaub has to start vs. Jets

  • Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This is in praise of Raiders’ rookie quarterback Derek Carr. But not too much praise. Call it praise tempered with caution. Big emphasis on the caution.

First the praise. Carr came up big against the world-champ Seahawks Thursday night in the Raiders’ fourth and (thank God) final exhibition game. He threw three touchdown passes. His passer rating was through the roof. He was mobile and accurate and he has a major-league arm. The guy is a dreamboat.

One play says everything. First quarter. First and 10 at the Seahawks’ 36-yard line. (We slip into the eternal sports present tense here.) Carr in the pocket. Drops back. Looks left. Seattle cornerback on the right side studies Carr, sees him look left.

Cornerback, thinking Carr will throw left, thinking a mere rook can’t scan the entire field making several reads, eases his coverage on Denarius Moore running down the right side.

Carr steps up in the pocket. Resets his feet. The kid looks right. Throws the bomb. Throws the bomb deep right. Ball travels about 50 yards. TD Moore. This double read, this deking the corner is something our sweet-talking Santa Clara friend Colin Kaepernick still cannot do and may never do.

What did we learn about Carr?

He was composed. He handled pressure superbly. He showed the ability to make instant decisions. Even if he was playing against backups, he still made plays. He showed excitement and passion and he made the team excited and passionate. He rallied the team, gave his teammates a jolt of jubilation. He made the Raiders come alive.

Not all quarterbacks do this. It is possible — likely — the Raiders’ theoretical starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, does not rank high on the excitement meter. Schaub does not emote. He does not generate electricity. He operates at a low hum.

Last season, Schaub got benched in Houston. It’s more like he got exiled. Think of Napoleon on Elba. Oakland was the only place that would take him. So far, he’s done nothing with the Raiders. Let’s be honest here. And now his elbow hurts. Last season, the Raiders blew it with quarterback Matt Flynn. They have to be wondering and fretting if, in Schaub, they bought another bad sausage.

Here what’s wrong with Schaub. The great quarterbacks anticipate the window and make the throw before the window is confirmed. Think Joe Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady, John Elway, Drew Brees. I could go on.

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