Shockingly enough, some folks out there don’t seem to like Oakland Raiders QB Matt Schaub very much. When Schaub missed a couple of practices with elbow tendinitis, his detractors, across dozens of articles, began drawing the obvious – and completely ridiculous – comparison between Schaub and last season’s QB experiment gone wrong, Matt Flynn. To say it’s lazy reporting and that the analysis provided by some of these pundits lacks logic and common sense would be putting it kindly.
One such pundit with a big axe to grind, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com’s Around the League and noted Derek Carr fan, has made it abundantly clear in countless articles that he thinks Schaub is beyond terrible and should be banished to Siberia. In an article published on Monday, Wesseling wrote:
“Just when it appeared that Matt Schaub’s bout with elbow tendinitis had given Dennis Allen an excuse to turn to a younger arm capable of throwing convincingly beyond 10 yards, the Raiders head coach insisted Monday that the sketchy Week 1 plan remains the same and there are no concerns at quarterback.”
Wesseling, like so many others, is attempting to generate a QB controversy where none exist – but hey, anything to generate a few more page clicks, right? HC Dennis Allen has been steadfast in his conviction that Schaub will be the team’s starting QB and has not wavered from that one iota. It’s the right decision to make as Schaub does represent Oakland’s best chance of winning this season.
Critics like Wesseling often employ incomplete or misleading “facts” and statistics to make whatever convoluted point they’re attempting to make. In this case, Wesseling is wholly married to the idea that Schaub is damaged beyond repair and is unable to rebound from his dreadful 2013 season – and to be fair, it was absolutely dreadful.
The problem is that the actual facts don’t fit Wesseling’s argument – not without employing some serious mental gymnastics. First, he attempts to pin the blame for Oakland’s uneven start this preseason entirely on Schaub. Of the 15 drives Schaub has led the team across the Raiders’ three games so far, only two have resulted in touchdowns. It’s a fair point, but it ignores the problems the offensive line has had in giving him time to operate, the problems the receivers have had actually catching the ball, or the problems with taking costly penalties. He also doesn’t take into account the fact that Oakland’s defense has been getting shredded, forcing the offense to play from behind in all three games. None of those things are Schaub’s fault, but all have contributed to Oakland’s less than stellar start to 2014.
Wesseling also makes hay out of Schaub’s supposed loss of arm strength, pointing to his paltry 4.6 yards per attempt as evidence of his point. Though we have a very small sample size to judge by at this point, both Allen and OC Greg Olson, who are in a far superior position than Wesseling to assess Schaub’s arm strength, say it’s not an issue. He also ignores the fact that Olson’s offensive scheme relies on short to intermediate routes. Al Davis’ vertical game isn’t the overriding offensive philosophy in Oakland anymore.
The one biggest rebuttal to offer critics like Wesseling that Schaub can and will rebound from his disastrous 2013 season is the fact that he has just one interception this preseason, and that is a result of James Jones bobbling a ball that he should have caught. He’s making better decisions with the ball, isn’t forcing passes that aren’t there, and is avoiding costly turnovers – all things that were lacking last year. While he indeed has some issues to work out, to say that Schaub is the same quarterback in Oakland that he was with the Houston Texans last year is asinine.
Critics like Wesseling can only seem to see Schaub through the prism of his failures in 2013. Anything that doesn’t fit that worldview is rejected as they are married to the idea that he is broken beyond repair. Schaub is in a no-win situation with critics like Wesseling. But then, Schaub isn’t out to impress his detractors. He’s out to prove them wrong.