Programming note: Watch Raiders Press Conference Live today at 2:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California, or streaming live right here.
OAKLAND – The Raiders have started 16 quarterbacks since a neck injury essentially ended Rich Gannon’s career in 2004. They’ve been searching in vain for stability at quarterback, with one failed experiment after another.
It’s no coincidence the Raiders have struggled in that span. Without a quality quarterback, winning is an uphill climb.
The Raiders have, at long last, found their man. Derek Carr is the quarterback the Raiders have been waiting for, a player with the talent and commitment required to usher this team out of darkness. Doesn’t mean he will. He’ll need some help to do that, but he’s certainly capable.
Yeah, I know. I’m saying this about a 2-11 quarterback.
There was something special about the way he beat the 49ers 24-13 on Sunday afternoon. He was 22-for-28 passing for 254 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. His 140.2 passer rating was the highest by a Raiders since, you guessed it, Gannon’s 141.9 in 2001.
It was easily his best game as a pro, even better than a four-touchdown day against San Diego. He won this game by taking what was given. He manipulated coverage with his eyes. He directed traffic on the fly and arranged protection well enough to produce despite the 49ers defensive efforts.
It was a game Carr might not have won earlier this year. He’s learning from each experience as coaches convince him to use his talents the right way.
“I feel like I’ve grown and I feel like the game is slowing down, week by week,” Carr said. “There’s going to be low and high moments as a rookie player, but I’m just trying to limit those low ones as much as I can. …I don’t ever feel like I’m ever in a zone or this, I just try and say, ‘OK, what play do I have? What do I know that they play, coverage wise or pressure wise, down in distance, our formation, our splits?’
“That’s what’s going through my head. I think that we all just executed and did our job to be honest. It was nice to see.”
The Raiders hadn’t scored touchdowns on consecutive drives all season until Sunday’s second half. They engineered 80-yard touchdowns to go up two scores. On those drives, Carr was 11-for-13 for 152 yards and two touchdown passes.
Carr was near perfect on this day, but he’ll certainly find flaws on film that will keep his work rate high. That’s a good thing. Carr is focused on overall development, with lessons from good games and bad.
He’s playing the long game, and that’s what inspires confidence in his future.
Comparing Carr and Colin Kaepernick’s long-term prospects was a featured narrative leading up to Sunday’s Battle of the Bay, but we’re not comparison-shopping in this space.
Kaepernick, after all, has as many NFC championship game appearances as Carr has wins.
If he continues to progress, Carr has the capability to consistently win games and establish himself as a quality starting quarterback in this league.
“Carr has been getting better all year, even at times when the numbers don’t show it,” center Stefen Wisniewski said. “It’s tough being a rookie quarterback in this league, but he’s made great strides. I know I believe in him. The other guys do too. He’s already a good one, and could be a great one in the future.”
Every game won’t play out like Sunday. But, if Carr stays even-keel and continues to work at his craft, the sky’s the limit for this young talent.
“There are going to be bumps in the road here and there, and there always will be,” Carr said. “That’s the craziness of this game obviously. But, I can just go out and like I said, I just work my tail off and whatever the result is, I know I gave it everything I have.”