Three quarterbacks were drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but none of them will get the call in Week One of the 2014 NFL season. While the Oakland Raiders didn’t take a signal caller with their top selection, they will have a rookie under center when they open the year against the New York Jets on Sunday.
Derek Carr went to the Raiders in the second round with the No.36 overall pick. Even after the team drafted the quarterback, the recently acquired Matt Schaub was expected to be the starter for Oakland. Following a strong preseason, head coach Dennis Allen decided that Carr earned the No.1 spot.
“I still feel very confident in Matt Schaub,” Allen said at a press conference on Monday. “I think it says more about where we feel Derek Carr is and his progression. After watching him all throughout training camp and in the preseason, you just see a guy who continues to develop and continues to be mature beyond his years as a quarterback and a guy that we feel very comfortable putting him out there and helping us win football games. So, we made that decision and we'll move forward with that.”
Carr outperformed Schaub in the preseason, completing 67 percent of his passes compared to the veteran’s 51 percent. The biggest statement by Carr came in the final exhibition game, which saw the rookie complete 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Schaub didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the entire preseason.
Even though Carr has yet to play in an NFL regular season game, he doesn’t have much less experience than the Jets’ starting quarterback. Geno Smith will be at the helm for New York in the season opener after starting all 16 games as a rookie last year. The West Virginia product might have been the worst quarterback in football, registering a league-worst 66.5 passer rating and throwing nine more interceptions than touchdowns.
Heading into the preseason, head coach Rex Ryan would not officially name Smith the starter. The team brought in Michael Vick in the offseason, but Smith secured the job after New York’s third exhibition game, in which he completed nine of 14 passes for 137 yards and a score.
"(Geno) has done everything that we have asked," Ryan said before the final preseason game. "And again this is no slight to Mike Vick. Because believe me like I said, I wanted to come out of this knowing that we have two really good quarterbacks and we think we can win games with. And in my heart I feel that we have two that we can win with."
Both teams are hoping that their young quarterbacks can help lead them to better records than last year. The Raiders have had 11 straight seasons without a winning record and much isn’t expected to change in 2014. The Jets have failed to finish above .500 in each of the last three years, and a losing record this season could spell the end of Ryan’s tenure in the Big Apple.
Oakland made key additions on defense through free agency, adding the likes of LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Justin Tuck. New York added a few playmakers after ranking just 29th in points per game. Wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson will make their debuts with the Jets.
The Raiders are expected to lose their season opener for a third straight year. The betting odds at most Las Vegas casinos have the Jets listed as 5.5-point favorites at MetLife Stadium, with the over/under set at 40 points.
Prediction: It’s hard to know what to expect from Carr, considering most of his NFL success has come against backups in exhibition games. The quarterback will look to take advantage of a weak New York secondary, which might be without an injured Dee Milliner. However, the Jets have a strong front seven, and Rex Ryan is 7-1 against rookie quarterbacks. The coach should be able to find a way to give Carr a lot of trouble in his debut.
Predicted Score: New York 20, Oakland 10