Observation Deck: Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Start your engines for Derek Carr-mania.

The rookie quarterback was brilliant (if that’s possible in the preseason) Thursday night as the Oakland Raiders blitzed the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Making his first start, the second-round pick led the Raiders to a three-touchdown lead over Seattle a minute into the second quarter of an eventual 41-31 Oakland victory.

Carr completed 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Raiders on two one-play touchdown drives. Several Seattle defensive starters were on the field for the first drive, which ended with a Raiders touchdown. Carr even completed a pass on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, one of the game’s very best. The Seahawks seemed to be going through the motions, but Carr was dominant.

What was most impressive about Carr is how he handled the offense. He played with such comfort and confidence. He made every throw he needed to make and he was a stunning 4-for-4 for 62 yards on third down. He looked like a five-year starter, playing with about half of the Raiders’ first-string offense.

Carr’s wonderful performance, of course, will put pressure on the Raiders to start him Sept. 7 on the road against the New York Jets. Carr worked with the first team this week because starter Matt Schaub had elbow soreness. Both head coach Dennis Allen and Schaub said the injury is not serious. Allen said Schaub will start against the Jets.

However, we’ve seen this movie before. Last year’s presumed starter, Matt Flynn, also came up with elbow soreness at this point in the preseason. Terrelle Pryor started the last preseason game and then was named the starter for the regular season.

If Allen made that decision last year, with Pryor looking not nearly as strong as Carr did Thursday, why wouldn’t Allen give Carr a chance now?

If I had to guess, I think we will see Carr play against the Jets. Why not? Let’s see what he can do in the bright lights of New York.

Here are some other thoughts on the Raiders’ final preseason game of the year:

  • Carr had great chemistry with receiver Denarius Moore. Moore had three catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Moore was once a key part of the offense but has struggled to take the next step, and there has been speculation he might not be in the team’s plans. But if he and Carr can duplicate this performance in the regular season, it would be a huge boost for the Raiders.

  • The Oakland defense was so-so. Seattle QB Russell Wilson, playing with some other starters, ripped through a defense that played four starters on the first drive. The Oakland defense did play well in spots afterward, though.

  • It was a good night for the Raiders’ special-teams units. They were good in coverage, creating a turnover, and the return game was good. Latavius Murray, who also ran the ball well at running back, had a big kick return and TJ Carrie looked good as a punt returner.

  • Third-stringer Matt McGloin didn’t look as good as he did earlier in the preseason. He and Brice Butler did hook up for their fourth touchdown of the preseason. Both players are solid reserves.

  • Cornerback Neiko Thorpe had a tough night. Coaches raved about him this week. He is on the 53-man bubble.

  • Right tackle Menelik Watson worked with the second-stringers. If that continues next week, that means Khalif Barnes would start at right tackle and rookie Gabe Jackson would slide into Barnes’ spot at left guard.