Editor's Note: This post first appeared last week, after Derek Carr's performance in the exhibition season finale against Seattle.
Matt Schaub is 33 and coming off a horrible season, a wobbly preseason and now has a sore elbow.
Derek Carr is 23, just starting his career and just turned in a fantastic performance in the Raiders' exhibition finale against Seattle, some of which came against Seattle's ferocious No. 1 defense.
So... Which guy could jump in for Week 1 of the regular season against the Jets and give this franchise some badly needed new life and energy—the sagging veteran or the rookie with the big arm and the daring to use it deep down field?
I don't think that's a particularly tricky question. It sure shouldn't be and I'm sure that 99.9% of Raider Nation and maybe 80% of the Raiders locker room would probably agree that it's a simple issue.
Carr is better. Right now. Already. How could anybody not see that?
Obviously Schaub is making $8M and came to the Raiders with the understanding that he was their starting QB, end of story, no second-guessing or backsliding allowed.
But the NFL isn't about promises—wisely made or not. It's about competition, it's about putting the guy out there who gives the team its best chance to win, and it's about building things around players who can lead a team into a period of success.
And... that's not Schaub, not from anything he has shown in a Raiders uniform.
Maybe the Raiders can just say that Schaub's elbow still hurts and say this is all temporary—the way the Raiders and Matt Flynn said it was his elbow that sidelined him just in time for Terrelle Pryor to start last season.
Or Allen can be bold and just say that Carr has won the job fair and square, which has the benefit of being true and I think would send a few charges of kinetic energy through Raiders HQ.
By the way, Carr is much, much better than Pryor was last year. The Raiders kind of stumbled into Pryor for Week 1 and beyond just because Flynn was so, so bad. Pryor was fascinating to watch, but the more he played, the more obvious it became that he wasn't the future.
This year, the Raiders have a bad veteran but ALSO an excellent option right there—a rookie they cannily drafted and coached and prepared for this.
I would've said that before last Thurday night's fireworks. But after all those laser passes and his poise in the pocket, I'm going to underline it all: Carr is the Raiders' most promising QB since Rich Gannon's prime years.
At this point, he has more promise as a Raider long-term answer than Kerry Collins did, than Andrew Walter did, than JaMarcus Russell did once we saw him play, than Jason Campbell did, than middle-aged Carson Palmer did and than Pryor did.
And more than Schaub right now.
More than Matt McGloin, too, though McGloin continues to prove that he's a solid veteran back-up.
I can see Allen and McKenzie coming up with reasons to stick with Schaub: Maybe they don't want to expose Carr too early to big blitzes; maybe Carr isn't quite reading defenses perfectly; maybe they fear the big mistake in the early mistakes.
But which QB has made more critical mistakes recently than Schaub?
Just think how different this Raiders season would feel if Carr starts and wins Week 1 at the Jets. Or just plays well, even in a loss, and the Raiders can play their home-opener against Houston with a sense of offensive momentum.
(Compared to the possibility of Schaub playing poorly and losing to the Jets or playing well and losing or even playing well enough to win. Who cares? It's Matt Schaub. Who is 33 and NOT the guy who will be leading this team into 2015 or even mid-season 2014.)
If Carr is ready, he has to be the guy. And he sure looks ready—maybe not to play at a Pro Bowl level, but to give the Raiders their best shot, right now.
Also, there should be more imperative on this Week 1 than most because it's a potentially winnable road game and the Raiders can't throw those away—not in Allen and McKenzie's third season together, not for a fan base that has been through so much defeat and sorrow, and not in any NFL season, really.
You play your best guys to win as many games as you can, and if they're also the guys you're building with, even better.
You can't play provably worse guys, especially at quarterback. Not if you want to remain credible.
Carr is instant credibility. He is a new beginning. And he's the best QB the Raiders have, with a chance to be their best QB in more than a decade, period.
Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/timkawakami.