Quarterback Dilemma?

Interesting conversation over at Raider Take on the rapidly brewing Schaub vs. McGloin controversy among the fan base. Plenty of good points to be made on either side, but there are a few worth considering before we lose too much perspective:

  • McGloin performed as the starting QB for six of the final seven games last season, winning his first one at Houston (ironically), but dropping the next five, including the 56-31 blowout at home against the Chefs, where McGloin turned the ball over 5 times (4 INT, 1 fumble). The Raiders’ O-line appears to be an upgrade from last season, but the fact is that McGloin has started a few games already. He’s looked great the last couple weeks against second- and third-string defenders, but may just as easily revert to last year’s form against starters.
  • While Schaub’s performance after three preseason games has been underwhelming, there has been no real chance to get in much of a rhythm with the full offensive team and playbook. Jones-Drew and McFadden play only the first few series, as has Schaub himself until last night in Green Bay. He’s had some bad and questionable throws, but multiple receivers, including Jones, Holmes, Little, and Reece have had multiple drops of catchable balls. There’s enough blame to spread around.

One of the biggest concerns with the McKenzie/Allen management/coaching regime is the handling of the quarterback position overall, right from the very start. They let Carson Palmer go, rather than pay him more money, and then brought in Matt Flynn, for way too much money, based on Flynn’s record. They failed to bring in a true #1 wide receiver to complement their choice at quarterback. When Flynn couldn’t get healthy in camp, and couldn’t get it done in preseason, they started Pryor. When Pryor got hurt, they finally started Flynn, and gave up on him — and the $6.5M and draft pick he cost — after a single game, against a Washington team that ultimately went 3-13 and fired their coach.

So they go back to Pryor for the next five games, winning just one game — and that one only because the Steelers somehow managed to miss two easy field goals — before giving McGloin his shot. Then, only after the season is long-lost and they feel the need to see if they have anything in Pryor, they start him for the final game against Denver, which of course wasn’t nearly as close as the 34-14 score indicated.

We’ve all heard the old saw about how when you have two (or more) quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. Nowhere has this been more true than the last couple seasons for the Raiders. They could have found out whether they wanted to keep Pryor by letting him start the final three games of the lost 2012 campaign, instead of waiting until just the very last game. They could have done a better scouting job on Flynn before throwing money at him, then cutting bait after just one game.

Panic and chaos seem to be the prime factors in identifying, developing, and managing QB talent in Oakland these days, and it’s hard to understand exactly how this keeps happening. But one sure way is to insist on switching from one QB to another after a couple of preseason games, which by definition are not very useful in analyzing the entire team picture. Schaub has to push the ball downfield with more decisiveness and fire, yes, but his receivers also have to run their routes and hang on to the ball. And if they can’t, then the management team needs to have more to show for its $65M of cap money in the receiving corps.

It’s not time to panic yet. It won’t even be time to panic if they lose to the Jets in Week 1, unless it’s a blowout and Schaub has a case of the pick-sixes again. In fact, Schaub — or any quarterback — needs to know that he has more than one chance to do the job. The bye week (Week 5) is early this season, probably too early for a team with some key veteran players that need to stay healthy later in the season, but in this case it’s an opportunity to get an honest look at their 17th QB to start since Rich Gannon.

This season’s schedule is notoriously tough, and particularly the first four games — at the Jets, home against Houston, at the Patriots, and against Miami in London (considered a “home” game). If Schaub can’t beat his former team for the home opener, and at least the Jets or the Dolphins, then you have an argument for changing horses and using that early bye week to give either McGloin or Carr a chance. Pushing the panic button right now would just continue the ongoing problem.

No matter who is starting at QB, the regrouped linemen are learning to work together, and the receivers need to do their part as well and seriously improve their end of the game. This falls as much on the coaching and management as it does on who’s actually throwing the ball.

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