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Lorton: Rookie QB trend is dangerous

| Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just when I thought coaches across the NFL had finally gotten something collectively correct, the Raiders went and ruined it, as always.

Finally, there was not going to be a rookie starting quarterback on opening day, but the Raiders elected to go with Derek Carr as their starter.

Not because they should have, but they really had no other option.

I am a firm believer that a quarterback should spend some time as a backup in the NFL, get used to a system and then take over, but teams do not seem to think that way anymore. Rather than investing in a player’s growth, teams look for instant impact and payoff, and if it doesn’t work out in the first few years, move onto the next one.

Often, players are put into losing situations with no offensive support and no line to block in front of them and are still expected to be the reincarnation of famous rookie starters like Peyton Manning or Dan Marino. But more often than not, a player who gets time to develop will be just as good. Look at Tom Brady, Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers. The players who are thrown into the fire without a proper team around them either burn out quickly or shatter under the intense heat.

The recent trend is to start rookie quarterbacks right away, usually because a team has no better option than taking a chance on someone who needs to fulfill his full potential now. However, the Browns got it right by choosing Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel, the Jaguars were correct in starting Chad Henne over Blake Bortles and the Vikings were wise to start Matt Cassel over Teddy Bridgewater. But the Raiders, well, they didn’t really have anyone else.

Granted, Carr, the second-round draft pick out of Fresno State, earned his spot over former Texans’ starter Matt Schaub during the preseason, finishing 30-for-45 passing for 326 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. In only 16 minutes of the fourth and final preseason matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, Carr went 11-for-13 passing, throwing for 143 yards and three touchdowns, including two one-play scores.

Schaub played decently in his start for the Raiders’ third preseason game, a 31-21 loss to the Packers, finishing 13-for-27 passing for 110 yards. Overall, he completed 24 of 47 passes for 218 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Schaub is an NFL veteran with seven years of starting and playoff experience, yet we all saw how bad he can be in his final days in Houston. And on top of that, he had elbow issues on his throwing arm and missed practice. Regardless of how much weight one puts on the preseason, Carr is a better choice than an aging quarterback with a nagging and worrisome elbow injury.

Although not ideal, the Raiders’ best choice is Carr as their opening-day starter and hoping to whatever cult god Raiders fans worship that he won’t be a flop or get injured, as is tradition with recent Raider quarterbacks. Despite Carr not being a running quarterback like Cam Newton or Russell Wilson, the Raiders still should be concerned about him being able to handle the intensity of the NFL. Carr has already suffered a concussion and rib injury, and he hasn’t even played in a regular season game yet.

To put these concerns into perspective, Oakland has had seven different starting quarterbacks since 2011, including two courtships with Carson Palmer. Whether due to ineptitude, injury or both, the Raiders cannot keep a starting quarterback.

Finally, when I thought all of my hopes and dreams had come true and all was right with the football hierarchy, of course it was the Oakland Raiders who ruined it for me.


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