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ALAMEDA – Peyton Manning went through a rough rookie season. The No. 1 overall pick started right away for the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 and made his share of mistake en route to a 3-13 season.
He wouldn’t trade that season for the world.
“Experience was my best teacher,” Manning said. “There’s no question that I learned a lot of things that I would not have learned if I wasn’t in there playing. Learn from the good things and of course you’ve got to learn from the mistakes as well. But, I do think that being in there facing the live action is really the only way to learn how to play quarterback in this League, learn how fast defenses are, what different defenses do.”
Derek Carr feels the same way. He was thrust into a prominent role earlier than most, as the only quarterback of the 2014 draft class to start the regular season.
That wasn’t part of the original plan. He was supposed to sit the entire season behind veteran Matt Schaub. But, like all parts of the Raiders’ season, things went haywire. Schaub’s ineffectiveness, combined with Carr’s smarts, strong arm and maturity prompted a switch.
While Carr hasn’t been perfect, he hasn’t been bad. His performance has prompted inside and outside the organization to suggest the Raiders have a franchise quarterback in their midst.
While he doesn’t have a win, Carr’s stats mirror Manning’s rookie season through eight games. Stats bear that out:
Manning (1-7 record): 55.1 completion percentage, 1,873 passing yards, 11 TDs, 16 INTs, 64.5 passer rating
Carr (0-8 record): 60.7 completion percentage, 1,711 passing yards, 11 TDs, 7 INTs, 79.8 rating
It’s ludicrous to suggest that equal numbers pave a similar career path. Carr is much to learn and prove before he earns the right to be a long-term starter in the NFL, let alone a legend.
The stats show that Carr is on a typical path starting a rookie season for a bad team. Comparing Carr to rookie starters like Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco is unfair because those players had significant talent around them. Comparing Manning and Carr as rookie is legitimate considering both started for downtrodden franchises and both came in ahead of the curve after being part of football families.
Carr has taken his lumps, and certainly shares blame for the Raiders 0-8 start. It’s been time well spent.
“Certainly you’d like to come in and win football games right away. He would tell you the same thing,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “The experience has been invaluable for him thus far. You compare different experiences with different players, he came in as a mature player. It would be one thing if he maybe wasn’t as experienced of a player, wasn’t as intelligent of a player and wasn’t able to get himself out of harm’s way. But, he is an intelligent player, and again, we’ve put a lot on him in terms of what he is doing in both the run game and the protection game. He is handling it well.
“There have been some calls and some things he’d like to have back, but I’ll promise you that he’s learned from it and he’ll be better down the road.”
Carr could’ve learned in a backup role, but he believes his progress was expedited through experience. He considers himself a better quarterback than he was eight games ago, and expects a similar jump over the season’s second half.
“There is progress from the people that I’ve gotten to play against, the teams I’ve gotten to play against and seeing all these pressures,” Carr said. “The best way to learn is by experience, for me. A lot of people learn in different ways, but for me I need to be out there and I need to see it. For me, it’s been great. I’m looking forward to getting some wins going on, going into the last half of the season. That’s really where I’m thinking about, but it’s been good.”