One of the most persistent — and mind boggling — storylines surrounding the Oakland Raiders this offseason has been the quarterback situation. With the acquisition of former Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub, most of the immediate dust has settled. But there is still an emphasis on finding a longer term solution and finding a ‘quarterback of the future’. And given that the Raiders have flirted heavily with players like Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel, Fresno State‘s Derek Carr and most recently LSU‘s Zach Mettenberger, the team is certainly putting on the appearance of looking for a quarterback to eventually lead the team. What has been lost in the shuffle — or more accurately, pushed aside — is second-year man Matt McGloin.
The anger and vitriol Raiders fans spew at even the merest suggestion that McGloin could be the Raiders’ quarterback of the future is as bizarre as it is unwarranted. Even stranger, though, is the pronouncement by many media types that McGloin isn’t suited to be anything more than a professional clipboard holder, is destined to be a career backup quarterback and lacks the skill set necessary to run an NFL offense. For having such a small sample size — six games — to review, it’s a pretty bold career assessment. Of course, that’s assuming that any of these media hacks ever actually bothered to watch him play.
Some of us around the Raider Nation did watch him play, though. And many of us came away very impressed with what we saw. Was he perfect? Was he the second coming of Peyton Manning? Of course not. But before we burn him at the stake for that, it’s worth remembering that McGloin was an undrafted rookie last season. He basically won the lottery by snagging an invite to training camp and then set about exceeding expectations. He beat out GM Reggie McKenzie‘s handpicked draft selection, Tyler Wilson. He then beat out veteran Matt Flynn — a player the Raiders were so high on they gave up coveted draft picks to obtain him. And for his last trick, he played well enough in relief of Terrelle Pryor that he got to keep the job for a while. And he accomplished all of this after having spent training camp doing little more than fetching water for the team.
Did McGloin make mistakes? Absolutely. The game against the Kansas City Chiefs where he threw four of his eight total interceptions last season comes to mind. But he also showed poise and steadiness in the pocket. He showed that he can read defenses, as well as his progressions, and make some terrific throws. The Raider offense was far better with McGloin under center than it ever was with Pryor. With McGloin playing, the Raiders’ offensive unit gained significantly more yards and scored nearly a touchdown better than it did under Pryor’s leadership. McGloin even led the entire NFL in pass plays of more than twenty yards over the course of his brief tenure. He made mistakes and had some bad throws — of that there is no doubt. The thing is, many of those were mistakes nearly all rookies are prone to making. Those are mistakes that can be corrected with a little time and experience.
Though he’s already been named the team’s No. 2 QB, he’s seemingly been largely forgotten — or dismissed — by the media, and even worse, by the team. But McGloin has been working hard this offseason. He’s been training with, and learning from, Jeff Garcia. As good as he was at times last season, imagine how much better — and more consistent — he will be with Garcia coaching him and having the benefit of a season as Schaub’s understudy.
His 1-5 mark isn’t indicative of him as a player. It speaks more to him being on a very bad team. And the Raiders would be making a huge mistake by overlooking somebody with McGloin’s work ethic, determination and history of beating the odds. As a rookie he showed poise, confidence and a steadiness in the pocket that a team needs. McGloin has the potential to be an excellent quarterback, and if the Raiders spent some time actually developing him, they might not need to put in so much time and effort searching for their next ‘franchise quarterback’.