Category Archives: quarterbacks

Raiders Coaching Staff Finalized

With the hiring of Ken Norton Jr. as defensive coordinator, the Raiders have filled out their coaching ranks. The DC position was the last to be designated, as all of the other coaching positions have been filled for several weeks. Norton was the linebackers coach for Seattle, so the Raiders had to wait until after the Super Bowl to talk to him.

So far, I think the coaching staff hires have been an upgrade overall, and I definitely like Jack Del Rio’s gung-ho attitude. Obviously, most new coaches say and do many of the same things to motivate fans, but Del Rio has the track record as a head coach, as well as the pedigree of a local guy and second-generation Raiders fan.

What it will really come down to is how much of an upgrade Bill Musgrave and Ken Norton are at their respective OC/DC positions. Musgrave has most recently been QB coach in Chip Kelly’s uptempo Philly offense, and that can bring real value to Derek Carr’s development, provided the team can give him better receivers to work with.

More importantly on offense, getting the historically awful running game moving, primarily along the o-line, will be key to opening up the passing game. New o-line coach Mike Tice will help tremendously in that area, as will moving RG Austin Howard out to tackle, his natural position. Menelik Watson might be better served moving in to guard.

We’ll take a look at free agency and draft options in the weeks to come.

2014 Season Team Statistics and Position Analysis

Full team and player stats for the season are here and here.

If you had to give the team and season any sort of overall grade, it would have to be Incomplete. There were still just too many holes to fill, that were not taken care of by free agency or the draft. So there are some common themes running through this analysis of all the positions.

Continue reading 2014 Season Team Statistics and Position Analysis

Raiders To Start Carr Against Jets

The plan was to have Schaub throw today, to evaluate his elbow. Guess the decision to start Carr for the season opener on the road against the Jets tells us how that went. Carr’s preseason playing time was limited, but he did great against Seattle’s starting defense, including throwing a TD pass to Denarius Moore with Richard Sherman coming.

Carr seems fearless, decisive, and poised in the pocket, and has mentioned that he has seriously studied pro film since age 12, when he studied film with his older brother David. The team and fans are excited about this move, and while that still leaves questions about bringing in Schaub in the first place (for $8M and a draft pick), Schaub was probably the best available free agent quarterback in this past off-season.

This is going to be an exciting start to the new season. While they have a tough defensive front seven, the Jets are already experiencing chaos in their secondary, quickly signing former Raider CB Phillip Adams after he was cut loose by the Seahawks. Adams is fast and had some decent special teams plays last season, but was frequently a liability in coverage. If Carr can score on Sherman, he should have fun with Adams.

Preseason, Week 4: Raiders 41, Seahawks 31

Solid performance all the way around, even for preseason. Carr executed well against Seattle’s starting D, not only leading the team on a full TD drive, but capitalizing on the opportunities given by special teams (forced fumble/recovery and punt return), with two consecutive single-play TDs on short fields. As Schaub was completely unable in last week’s Packers game to make anything out of several great field position opportunities early on, this has to factor into what fans and even the coaches are thinking right now.

I’m still inclined to think that the starting job is Schaub’s to lose, because he has far more experience, but also because this management regime has proven itself remarkably inept at managing and developing the quarterback position for the team all along, and dumping Schaub for Carr to open the season would be admitting yet another high-dollar, high-profile whiff.

That said, Carr made a hell of a case for himself, while McGloin mostly face-planted against the Seahawks aggressive D. It’s hard to say no to four touchdown drives, including three TD passes to three different receivers, and a nearly perfect QB rating. But you also want to give him a fair chance to develop, and not just throw him in the deep end.

In the end the decision may be made for them, sooner rather than later. Schaub has shown little arm strength or zip on his throws, and if his elbow is already bothering him that much after only 47 pass attempts in three preseason games, how is he going to last an entire regular season?

Lot of good things from tonight’s game for the team to build on — the o-line is starting to jell, Murray had some nice carries, as did Atkinson, and both Atkinson and TJ Carrie had nice returns.

And, of course, Derek Carr. Already the Nation seems ready to throw him in against the Jets, and as long as they’re willing to commit to him for at least those first four games, what have they got to lose? Hang on, Nation, it’s going to be a wild ride this season!

Preseason Week 4, Halftime: Raiders 35, Seahawks 21

Wow, so did Derek Carr light it up or what? Really, after letting Russell Wilson march down for a TD in just 4 plays to start the game, the Raiders jumped in on all phases, making big plays, creating turnovers, getting great field position and capitalizing on it. McGloin managed to redeem a pick-six with yet another TD hookup with Brice Butler. Some rough spots offensively since Carr was pulled for McGloin, but overall a really nice effort so far against the reigning league champs.

Of course, between now and the Week 1 start in New York against the Jets on Sept. 7, the entire conversation will revolve around who should start. For now, let’s just enjoy the most complete effort of the preseason so far.

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.