HENDERSON, Nev. — Newly installed Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham will make his first career NFL start Sunday, but said he’s prepared for this moment since entering the league in 2019.
Stidham, a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots, protected Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Mack Jones and Derek Carr and played in 11 games during his career. He will take over from Carr, who he says gave him a vote of confidence.
“You dream of playing in the NFL as a kid,” Stidham said. “And to start a game in the NFL, that’s a dream come true. But at the same time… I have tried to make the same thing every week.
“Obviously, I learned under a bunch of really good guys, players, coaches. So I’ve always tried to treat weeks the same way and it’s no different this week.”
Sunday at Allegiant Stadium, however, Stidham will face the NFL’s No. 1 defense in the San Francisco 49ers.
“Yes, it’s a big challenge,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that whatever you do in life, you won’t get better until you do it against the best… It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m super. excited about it and I think it will be a great challenge for us. I know we’re looking forward to it.”
Stidham, along with a 2023 seventh-round draft pick, was acquired by the new Raiders regime of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler for a 2023 sixth-round pick in a May 13 trade with the Patriots.
As such, the only offensive system Stidham is familiar with as a pro is McDaniels’ scheme, and it’s been on display in OTAs, Darren Waller said.
Still, there was a stunned Raiders locker room with Carr sitting out the team by mutual decision for the final two weeks of the season. Carr has been the team’s starter since his rookie season in 2014, going just two games, going 63-79 without a playoff win.
“It’s a reaction where you kind of have to take the emotion out and just realize that the only thing that’s going to work is to support Jarrett going forward, and the guys are excited for him to get an opportunity,” he said. Waller. . “So we’re rallying around him, letting him know we believe in him and just trying to do our best to prepare in San Francisco.
“Obviously it’s difficult, but I believe two things can survive: believing in Derek and believing that he can always do it, but also supporting Jarrett and going forward this week and preparing.”
Stidham started all four preseason games for the Raiders and completed 63% of his passes for 316 yards.
He also appeared in relief in three regular season games, completing 8 of 17 passes for 72 yards in the Raiders’ 24-0 loss at the New Orleans Saints in Week 8.
Stidham said Carr has helped him both “personally and professionally” since joining the Raiders.
“I can’t thank him enough for everything,” Stidham said. “He and his wife have both been very supportive and very welcoming to me and my wife during our time here together. So I can’t speak highly enough of Derek. I mean, he’s just a great person and obviously great football. so does the player. He’s obviously been here for a long time… So I’m just going to go out there and play the best I can.
“I mean, obviously I’m going to keep a lot of it private between me and him, but most importantly, and this is what I’ve always appreciated so much about Derek; Be very down. Football is an imperfect sport and you obviously try to do the best you can. You prepare hard every week, but always to stay even-keeled.”