Two years ago, general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders had a crucial decision to make.
The Raiders were in search of a franchise quarterback. At the No. 5 pick, they were in position to take Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel or to trade up to get one of them. Instead, they selected linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round then quarterback Derek Carr early in Round 2.
After a chippy 33-16 road victory against Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, could there be any doubt that McKenzie and company nailed this one?
By his standards, Carr was ordinary — 200 yards in the air, one touchdown, no interceptions. Bortles threw for 246 yards, one TD and two interceptions in six more attempts. Those were hardly the kind of numbers one expected of the third pick in the draft, especially against the statistically worst defense in the league.
But the numbers didn’t tell the entire story. No, it was the eye test that told the QBs apart. Carr is more accurate. More poised. More fundamentally sound. Less mistake-prone. Bortles is more mobile, but that’s about it.
Like Carr, Bortles remains a work in progress. He may turn out to be an above-average quarterback down the road. Carr has a much higher ceiling. He has the look of a guy who can lead a team to a Super Bowl one day.
Meanwhile, the injured Bridgewater is out for the season. His future with the Minnesota Vikings is a bit iffy.
And who knows where the heck Manziel is these days. Does anyone want to know?
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Michael Crabtree’s best move isn’t the curl or slant pattern. It’s the one that got the Raiders’ wide receiver the heck out of Santa Clara and away from Colin Kaepernick two years ago.
In 23 regular-season games since then, Crabtree already has caught more touchdowns passes (15) from Carr than he did any 49ers’ quarterback in his first 79 games in the league.
Makes a difference when a receiver has a quarterback who stays in the pocket and delivers the ball on time, ya think?
GAG ORDER: Crabtree was flagged for a throat-slash gesture after his huge touchdown late in the second quarter. From here, it looked more like a throat grab intended for the Giants’ bullpen.
NO GUTS, NO ‘W:’ Jaguars coach Gus Bradley wimped out in the third quarter, when he opted for a 26-yard field goal on fourth-and-4 despite a 20-6 deficit.
And you could just hear Raiders coach Blackjack Del Rio think on the other side: “Suck-ers!”
SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray.
NOW HEAR THIS: The fans were so loud for the Raiders, one almost thought they were in Las Vegas already.
THEY’LL TAKE IT: The Raiders held the 31st-ranked offense in yards gained to one touchdown and forced three turnovers. When your defense is on a pace to set an NFL record for yards allowed in one season, that’s a step forward.
Too bad veteran Malcom Smith had his head somewhere else. He was flagged for a hold and late hit, although the latter wasn’t as bad as it looked initially. Then, the linebacker had the ball ripped away from him for a late touchdown.
The first penalty on No. 53 was the Raiders’ 53rd of the season, most in the league. Hey, who says their defense isn’t in sync?
WISHFUL THINKING: Those mistakes weren’t as bad as confused CBS analyst Trent Green, who twice referred to Clive Walford as a Jaguar until somebody got in his ear.
After Walford dropped a pass in the end zone in the first quarter, some Raiders fans probably wished he was a Jaguar, too.
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