We seem to have officially entered the NFL‘s silly season – the time between the draft and the start of the regular season in which anything and everything is grist for the media mill. With the dearth of actual news items during this period, writers are often forced to pull stories out of thin air – or in some cases from other, lower parts of their anatomy. During this time of year, some outlandish things are said about any number of players on any number of teams. But perhaps the most ridiculous thing to come out of the media pipelines recently has been an assertion by a writer for NFL.com’s “Around the League,” Chris Wesserling, that by trading for Matt Schaub, Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie passed up on a quarterback who could have made a difference and turned the team’s fortunes around – Josh McCown.
In an article he recently penned, Wesserling dropped in a little nugget that is as ridiculous as it is hysterial. He wrote:
“We don’t question the franchise’s need for veteran insurance. But did it have to cost multi-millions in guaranteed money to cover your bases with a broken quarterback when a superior option such as Josh McCown was available at a lesser rate?”
Raiders fans have seen McCown in Silver and Black once already, and it’s not likely they’re clamoring for a second go-around. In his brief tenure in Oakland, McCown compiled a 2-7 record, threw for just over 1,100 yards to go along with his 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a very JaMarcus Russell-esque 69.4 quarterback rating.
So why exactly, according to Wesserling, would McCown be a “superior option” to Schaub under center for the Raiders? Oh right, because he had a handful of good starts for the Chicago Bears last season. While it’s true that McCown threw an impressive 13 touchdowns against just one interception for the Bears last season, a closer look inside McCown’s numbers reveals that eleven of his 13 touchdown passes came against non-playoff teams like the St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions, suggesting that McCown feasted on inferior teams.
Wesserling blasts McKenzie and the Raiders for throwing a pile of money at Matt Flynn, for what amounted to a couple of incredibly forgettable starts. And there is no denying that the Flynn signing was one major whiff. But what Wesserling is suggesting with his assertion that Oakland should have signed McCown instead of Schaub, is essentially the same thing – throwing money at a player for a handful of good starts. At least in the case of Flynn, though, we didn’t have tape showing 10 years of mediocrity in the league to point to.
In tearing apart the Schaub signing, Wesserling has also pointed to the fact that while with the Houston Texans, Schaub benefited from being in a system that best exploited his talents. But don’t good head coaches and offensive coordinators employ schemes that best suit the talent on their roster to put the team in a position to succeed? And isn’t that exactly what the Bears did with McCown? And isn’t that what Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to do as well?
Did Matt Schaub have a terrible 2013 season? Without a doubt. But is he broken beyond repair, as writers like Wesserling have asserted? When New York Giants QB Eli Manning threw 27 picks last season, did anybody suggest that he’s “broken beyond repair?” When San Diego Chargers QB Phillip Rivers threw 20 picks in 2010, did anybody suggest that his career was over? Hardly. Those three guys had bad seasons, but they latter two are still considered at the top of their game.
And if those guys – and countless others – can have bounce-back seasons, why do writers like Wesserling think it’s beyond reality to think that Schaub can as well?
Players can do well in short bursts. But how they perform over the long haul is what matters. McCown has had 10 years of mediocrity in the league and a few good games. Schaub has a track record of success, but one very bad year. If I’m Reggie McKenzie, I know where I’m spending my money.