OAKLAND – Just moments after acquiring veteran quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen named him the starting quarterback.
He stuck with that line all offseason, through good times and lackluster preseason performances. He stuck with it even last week, when Schaub’s elbow pulled up lame following a dismal showing at Green Bay.
Even a brilliant showing by rookie Derek Carr couldn’t balance the scale. The second-round pick, accurately dubbed the quarterback of the future, cast doubt in that decision by completing 11-for-13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
All that in just 22 snaps.
After Thursday’s game, Allen was given the opportunity to change his mind. He didn’t take the offer, but he left the door cracked.
“I really like where we’re at in the quarterback room," Allen said. "The biggest thing is that we’ll have to see where Matt (Schaub) is when he comes in on Monday.”
Pardon the pun, but Schaub’s injury could provide some elbowroom. If the Raiders say he’s not healthy, it could give Carr a window to practice with the first unit next week and head towards a regular-season start without Allen having to choose sides.
Something similar happened last season, when Matt Flynn dealt with elbow problems and Terrelle Pryor eventually stole the starting spot with a decent preseason.
Allen was asked if Schaub’s health is the only factor in deciding who starts at quarterback. Despite the fact that Carr has clearly looked better this preseason, Allen said it was.
“That’s been the plan all along,” Allen said. “Obviously Derek continues to get better. He continues to improve. Again, I think we have a good situation in that quarterback room.”
Let's keep prying. Dennis, did Carr’s performance change his original plan?
[INSTANT REPLAY: Carr erupts, Raiders top Seahawks 41-31]
“No,” Allen said. “I mean, I thought Derek obviously went out and played well today. I thought some guys made some plays for him, so that was a real positive and real good to see.”
It was, after all, one preseason game. And Carr is a rookie with significant progress left to be made.
Continued improvement from Carr could shorten Schaub’s leash in the regular season and make a change easier to make. But, despite several opportunities to make a bold declaration about his quarterbacks, Allen predictably stuck with the status quo without committing to it firmly.
“Let’s not bury our head in the sand, (about Carr’s performance) but I haven’t changed anything,” Allen said. “I think we’re in good shape where we’re at, again, with all of our quarterbacks, I feel good about being in the position that we’re in.”