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What makes Derek Carr so special?

The Raiders named Derek Carr their starting quarterback on Monday evening. Danny Kelly has a closer look at the quarterback the Raiders have been looking for.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 NFL Guide

Derek Carr started Thursday night's preseason Week 4 matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks and all he did was lead his offense to four straight touchdown drives, two of which came against at least part of Seattle's starting defense. Carr finished the game 11-for-13 passing for 143 yards with three touchdowns, no picks and a cool 152.1 passer rating, and rested his case in the competition for the starting job in Oakland.

It worked too. News emerged Monday night that the Raiders would make Carr the starter, after weeks of playing coy.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and well, the Raiders' quarterback situation can be summed up with this:

"Gosh he was really good," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll after the game. "I thought the Raiders played great tonight. Jeeze, they tore us up in every way."

So, how did Carr thrust himself to the top of the depth chart last Thursday? Let's look at the tape.

3-10-OAK 44 (11:40 1st Quarter) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass short left to B.Butler to SEA 43 for 13 yards (P.Adams).

Third down is one area where, historically, rookie quarterbacks struggle (I don't have a specific stat on that in mind, but common sense tells us this down is the most difficult). Carr showed a lot of poise on that down in this game, though, and during Oakland's first scoring drive, he connected on two big third-down plays that kept the drive alive and eventually helped lead to a Latavius Murray rushing touchdown.

Here was his first: pocket poise, excellent velocity, enough accuracy -- it's a little high, but importantly out of range for the trailing defensive back, Phillip Adams -- and decisiveness. Carr stares down the route a little bit too much, I'd say, but in this case with the defender's back to him, it doesn't matter.

Carr GiF1

Drive extended.

HIs second big third-down conversion came a few minutes later, again extending the drive.

3-10-SEA 16 (7:58 1st Quarter) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass short right to D.Moore to SEA 5 for 11 yards (R.Sherman).

It's tough to know whether this was a poorly located ball or whether perhaps it was a miscommunicated option route that would have called for Moore to do a back shoulder comeback, but the Raiders make it work. The throw is a perfect back-shoulder look and Carr didn't hesitate for a second, which leads me to believe there may have been a sight adjustment for Moore here when Richard Sherman played press at the line.

I note below that Moore bails Carr out, but it's tough to know -- perhaps Moore bailed himself out for running the wrong stem of his route. Regardless, it's a bold choice to go after Sherman and that's the mentality you want from the guy who will lead your team.

carr 2 gif

"I was very excited that their first-team defense played," Carr said after the game. "You want to play against the best, and they have the ring to prove it."

The Raiders would punch it in after that throw extended the drive. On the ensuing kickoff, Seahawks returner Bryan Walters fumbled, giving the Raiders the ball back on the Seattle 36-yard line. Carr then calmly did this:

1-10-SEA 36 (6:57 1st Quarter) D.Carr pass deep right to D.Moore for 36 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

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The most impressive part of this throw was how well he manipulated backup safety Steven Terrell into biting on the routes to the offensive left. That left Denarius Moore wide open on the right, after he'd beaten Adams down the sideline.

The degree of difficulty on the actual throw wasn't high -- it was a great play and he showed excellent pocket awareness to step up and to his right before letting loose. The actual throw doesn't compare to his third touchdown of the game, which came, again, on a third down, early in the second quarter.

3-6-SEA 11 (13:49) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass short left to D.Moore for 11 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Throws with anticipation, accuracy and confidence. The ball is out before Moore even passes the 5-yard line. This is a brilliant throw.

carr 4 gif

As Seahawks broadcast announcer and former quarterback Brock Huard put it, "I don't know what Matt Schaub is thinking on the sideline, but I know that just physically, Matt Schaub cannot do those things. Now, [there's] a level of experience, and throwing for 24,000 yards, and everything that Matt has done in his career, but Matt Schaub at this stage? Just simply not making that throw."