It has become something of an annual thing, this time of year, really. Just as birds and whales migrate, writers manufacture storylines in an effort to generate some interest. And sometimes they seem to be working really hard to manufacture some drama to get people talking. Such is the case with the supposed quarterback controversy between Matt Schaub and Derek Carr. Everywhere you turn, it seems that there is a new article stating that Schaub is already done, and Carr will be starting for Oakland immediately. Though Carr is shaping up to be as good – if not better – than expected, this supposed quarterback controversy seems to be little more than a media creation.
When the Houston Texans indicated that they were willing to part ways with Schaub, Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie wasted no time in scooping him up. McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen both believe that despite a horrid 2013 season, in which Schaub threw a pick-six in four-straight games and 14 interceptions overall, he still had some good football left in him.
The Raiders, in desperate need of a steady presence under center – something they’ve lacked since Rich Gannon wore the Silver and Black – have publicly stated their confidence in Schaub, and their belief that 2013 was an aberration in an otherwise very productive decade-long career. They believe Schaub can again be the quarterback who has passed for more than 4,000 yards in multiple seasons, and posted a 90-plus quarterback rating in five-straight seasons.
But then by Derek Carr fell into Oakland’s laps in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and suddenly the whole narrative changed and the Raiders found themselves in a QB controversy. At least in the minds of some.
With Carr impressing the Raider coaching staff during OTAs, we have been inundated with articles about him supplanting Schaub as the team’s starter, or that Schaub will be cut before the season begins. Some writers seem to be working overtime to manufacture a QB controversy in Oakland, using a quote from OC Greg Olson, in which he spoke about Carr, as evidence:
“We drafted a pretty good player. He is very intelligent, and he may not need to redshirt. We like his comfort level. Right away, you can see that this is not too big for him.”
Yet, those same articles seem to ignore what Olson has said about Schaub:
“… I do believe he’s got the skills, and he still has some shelf life left. If we didn’t believe that way, we wouldn’t have acquired him. Now, it’s just a matter of surrounding him with the right players and the right system, and we think we’re doing that. We think he’ll flourish.”
Plenty of QBs have bounced back after horrible seasons. There is no reason to believe that Schaub can’t – and won’t – be one of them.
Some seem to believe that by not “redshirting” Carr for the season, he’ll be under center on Day 1. But the more likely scenario is that Carr, who is already siphoning off second-team reps during OTAs, will climb over Matt McGloin on the depth chart and be the primary backup to Schaub. We shouldn’t expect to see him starting unless, as Allen put it, something “catastrophic” happens.
Is it possible Carr wins the job out of camp? It’s possible. But with so much on the line – including the jobs of McKenzie and Allen – it’s highly unlikely that they keys to the franchise will be handed over to a rookie who has yet to face a live NFL pass rush. Being great in OTAs is one thing. Being great in a live game is something else entirely.
Schaub is a leader, and for a decade in the league, has been a top-10 quarterback. It will benefit Carr – who is undoubtedly the quarterback of the future – greatly to learn from him. Carr will get his shot to play. But unless Schaub is unable to rebound, and continues down the same horrible path he traveled last season, it likely won’t be for a little while yet.
Despite how hard the media is trying to sell it, there is no QB controversy in Oakland.