When things aren’t going well – or at least aren’t living up to expectations of how well they should be going – people have a tendency to hit the panic button sooner than is probably warranted. Some folks tend to focus all of their fears and anxieties on the best available scapegoat and vent all of their frustrations upon them. In this case, more than a decade’s worth of frustration and anger brought about by a perpetual state of losing is being directed at Oakland Raiders QB Matt Schaub for the team’s slow and at times disjointed efforts through the preseason thus far.
The real bite here though is that Schaub gives the Raiders the best chance of winning this season. Let the howls of outrage and cries of “idiot” from all corners of the internet now commence.
Let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room; no, Schaub has not been lighting it up in the preseason. But by the same token, he hasn’t been completely stinking up the joint either. He’s had his ups and downs thus far, but that is to be expected when you’re learning an entirely new offensive scheme. Did somebody say Eli Manning? The New York Giants signal-caller is having a pretty rough preseason of his own – following a pretty disastrous 2013 – yet very few people are questioning whether or not Manning has lost it, or whether he’s washed up and past his prime. It’s interesting to note, to say the least.
The truth of the matter is that Schaub hasn’t been as good as we’ve hoped, but he’s not been nearly as bad as some continue to assert. It’s been well documented that of the 15 drives Schaub has led the Raiders on across the three preseason games, only two have resulted in touchdowns. And while that stat is undeniable, it also doesn’t tell the whole story. Schaub has had several drives killed because receivers like Mychal Rivera and James Jones couldn’t hang on to the ball, Andre Holmes ran the wrong route or the team took a penalty that wiped out a first down.
While Schaub certainly has room to improve his game, to place all of the blame for Oakland’s less than stellar performance in the preseason thus far on his shoulders is beyond ridiculous. The Raiders offense has failed on multiple fronts, whether it’s the offensive line not keeping defenders off of Schaub and giving him the time to make a play, to the receivers not knowing their routes, or even worse, not making the catch when the ball is thrown to them.
While Schaub has plenty to work on, so does the team as a whole.
Schaub’s critics and fans of second-round pick Derek Carr – and those two groups are not mutually exclusive – have been calling for the rookie to be named the starter from the moment the Raiders selected him in the draft. And it’s understandable. Carr is an exciting young player who is intelligent, athletic and has unbelievable upside. He’s got the potential to be a franchise quarterback and do great things in the league.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; potential is not the same as production in the NFL. For all of his upside, Carr is still a rookie with a lot to learn who will endure some growing pains. Carr is going to be a very good NFL QB, but is he ready to lead a franchise right this very minute? Despite what some people seem to think, the answer to that question is no. Not yet. He hasn’t decisively outplayed Schaub in this preseason. He hasn’t even been able to outplay third-stringer Matt McGloin to this point.
Carr’s time will come. But that time is not now. After all, not even Carr is going too look good when he’s getting hit on every play or when his receivers continually drop the ball.
If the Raiders can tighten up their pass blocking and their receivers can somehow manage to start holding on to the ball, Schaub is going to be just fine. And he certainly provides the Raiders with their best opportunity to win this season.