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Rookie starting quarterbacks often have a rough initiation to the NFL. That includes some of the very best.
Hall of Famer Troy Aikman had 18 interceptions to nine touchdowns and was 0-11 in starts during his rookie year. Even Peyton Manning struggled, with 28 interceptions during a 3-13 season.
There have been more success stories in recent seasons, and two of them square off on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle’s Russell Wilson had 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during 11-5 campaign in 2012 that led to the postseason.
While the wins haven’t come, Oakland rookie Derek Carr has has 1,517 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions through seven games this season.
It’s never been taboo to start a rookie quarterback, but NFL teams seem more willing to do so these days after seeing improved results from players like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger.
“I think it’s definitely the new way,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “I really believe that the quarterbacks have been raised much better. They’re much more advanced at the time when they come out of college now. They’ve thrown the football so much more. The sophistication of the offenses that they’ve been around, the background that they’ve had through all of the preparation, the Elite 11, the quarterback camps and all that stuff, has just brought them to a different level. I go back to when Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan came in at Atlanta. When those guys came in, I think that’s kind of when the thing turned.
“If you look back, those guys started and they did well and when they did, they really, things have changed since then. We could tell in Russell that he was just as precocious as a guy could be and ready to play football and we just needed to step aside and let him go, and I think the Raiders have seen the same thing from Carr.”
Carr hasn’t prepared himself in the standard way, which involves year-round training and private coaching with quarterback gurus. The Fresno State alum couldn’t recall attending a single quarterback camp.
“I was home-schooled when it comes to playing quarterback,” Carr said.
Derek’s brother David, the No. 1 overall pick in 2002, who spent parts of 11 seasons in the NFL, and his father Rodger gave him the tools to thrive.
“The best quarterback camp I could have was my dad and my brothers, so that’s where I learned my stuff from,” Carr said. “I had good coaches through high school who knew the game, who taught me really well. I had great coaches in college that knew protections, understood protections, understood coverage, and how to teach me those things. I’ve been blessed. I thank God to have a brother and my dad, a dad that cared enough to teach me how to throw. My dad can straight fling it, still. He taught me how to throw and then, obviously, my brother taught me the mental side of it as we got older.”