The Oakland Raiders will win the AFC West. Okay let’s not go crazy but the deal for Matt Schaub is better than many will probably give the Raiders credit for and is honestly an upgrade. Last year the Raiders started Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin at quarterback en route to a 4-12 season that did not show much promise at the position. Yes Prior can run but the ability to run does not make you a great quarterback. Pocket agility or the ability to run when required while serving as a passer first is a recipe for success. That does not appear to be what Prior can do. It is nothing personal against Prior, who is a great athlete, but merely a perception that maybe Prior should be placed in a different role or a act as a change of pace quarterback.
Yes it is true, Schaub is coming off his worst year as a professional. He completed 61.2 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 10 games (eight starts). Of those 14, many were of the unfortunate pick-six variety but some were poor decisions while others were just really bad luck. Let’s assume what you got from Schaub last year is what Oakland would get this upcoming season, well that’s an upgrade. He is not an All-Pro upgrade but an upgrade nevertheless.
Looking at Prior, who rushed for 576 yards, you cannot avoid his 57.4 percent completion percentage, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Yes he is dynamic with his feet but you are not building a franchise around his arm. McGloin only completed 55.9 percent of his passes with an even eight touchdowns to eight interceptions only starting because frankly there were not a ton of options.
Yes Prior and McGloin are both younger that Schaub but here are two big differences to consider as the Raiders begin next season with Schaub as their starter. First, it buys them time and second, it gives them hope.
Lets approach my second point first. The troubles that Schaub had last season are well documented and do not require an in depth breakdown anymore. But he will be a veteran presence to work with a wide receiver corps that is in desperate need of guidance. Players like Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes should appreciate the leadership that comes with Schaub. As well as leadership, the Raiders are rolling the dice with a sixth round pick that Schaub can just forget 2013.
In his last three full seasons (2009, 2010 and 2012) Schaub completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 13,148 yards, 75 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. While not this easy and only showing a reference point, if you look at Matt Ryan‘s stats over his last three full seasons he completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 13,411 yards, 87 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. Many would argue that “Matty Ice” is one of the best in the game but the numbers are pretty close. If the Raiders can get the old Schaub back he can help them win games or at least manage them more effectively than last year’s roster of quarterbacks.
Now on to my other point which was it buys them time. Most mock drafts are showing the Raiders taking a quarterback with the fifth pick in this year’s NFL draft. With the addition of Schaub the dynamic can change. Of course they can still take a quarterback in that position but now it is not required especially considering the perceived depth at that position. Expected first round picks like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are just part of a class that includes a strong arm but erratic project Tom Savage, a winner in A.J. McCarron or other perceived talents in Derek Carr or Zach Mettenberger. None are considered Andrew Luck sure things but there is depth at the quarterback position in the 2014 NFL Draft.
With Schaub in the fold the Raiders now have options. They could still take a quarterback but now they could choose to draft a tackle like Jake Mathews with the fifth pick or trade down and still attempt to land tackles like Zach Martin or Taylor Lewan later in the first round. The point here is now there are other choices than grabbing a quarterback. Maybe Oakland can focus on protecting a quarterback with the early pick in this year’s draft. Will Oakland be a playoff team with the addition of Schaub? Not likely, but it gives them flexibility going forward as they continue to rebuild a team with a rich history and passionate fan base.The Raiders have bought themselves some time with the addition of Schaub.