A lot has been made of the trade that brought QB Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders. And very little of it has been positive. While some anticipate that Schaub will have a rebound year, it seems that the vast majority are projecting that he’ll go down in a fiery wreck – and take the Raiders with him. Many have declared that he is “broken beyond repair,” that his career is all but over and that the Raiders would be better off just giving the reins over to Derek Carr now and take all of the lumps that come with starting a rookie quarterback.
But given the early reports coming out of the Raiders camp, rumors of Schaub’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Following a 2012 season in which the Houston Texans went 12-4, won a playoff game and then pushed the New England Patriots hard in the divisional round, Schaub’s stock was through the roof. Though the Texans ultimately lost that game, Schaub traded blows with Tom Brady, throwing for more than 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Coming into the 2013 season, the Texans were the sexy pick to make a Super Bowl run, and the expectations surrounding the team were in the stratosphere.
Needless to say, the 2013 season didn’t turn out the way Schaub and the Texans had envisioned it. Seemingly anything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Houston, and it resulted in a staggering 14-game losing streak which capped off a miserable 2-14 overall record.
It was a profound and humbling fall from grace and one that Schaub’s critics seem intent on never letting him forget. His detractors point to the 14 interceptions and four straight games with a pick-six as if they are the only reason for Houston’s abysmal season – as if he is the only reason the Texans were, by far, the worst team in the NFL in 2013.
But if you apply just a modicum of logic and intellectual honesty, you would realize that a whole lot of things need to go wrong for a team to be that bad. And a whole lot did in fact go wrong for Houston in 2013. They had an offensive line that couldn’t keep their QBs upright – the unending and relentless pressure by opposing defenses no doubt contributing to all of the interceptions – a season-ending injury to star RB Arian Foster and a defense that suddenly forgot how to make plays and stop people.
Houston’s terrible 2013 was a total team meltdown, regardless of how many people attempt to make Schaub the scapegoat for it all. And lest anybody forget, the team continued to lose horribly even after Schaub got benched. Their cardinal sin in 2013 was that the team failed – miserably – to live up to the hype and expectations of others. And nobody is bearing the brunt of the backlash more than Schaub.
He had a terrible 2013, and to his credit, Schaub will be the first to tell you that. He hasn’t tried to duck out on his share of the blame for the debacle. But now he’s got a fresh start in Oakland. He’ll have tools and weapons at his disposal that he didn’t have in Houston season – most notably an offensive line that can protect him and a running game with the potential to be lethal. He will also have more freedom and control in OC Greg Olson‘s system than he’d ever had before. And HC Dennis Allen as well as Olson believe it will yield big rewards in terms of leadership and production – rewards they are reportedly already seeing.
He provides the experience and stability Oakland hasn’t had under center for more than a decade now. And the early returns are encouraging, leading many to believe that he is well on his way to recapturing the form that led him to multiple seasons with 4,000 yards passing and five consecutive seasons with a 90-plus QB rating.
Though he played a part, Schaub has been made the lone scapegoat for Houston’s failings in 2013 – a ridiculous proposition at best. And he is ready to show that last season was merely an anomaly, a down year, in an otherwise very solid, very productive career.