With Derek Carr injured, it’s all about Matt McGloin right now. Let’s look at what he brings to the table as well as the playoff picture for the Raiders.
The Good and the Bad of Matt McGloin:
With a handful of Raider fans using Youtube videos to try and convince people how amazing Matt McGloin is and some Raider fans making fun of them, it’s become just another internet drama. You’d think they’d just want the Raiders to win but it’s just how things are in today’s world. Let’s deal with the truth as we always do without all the drama.
McGloin is as tough as it gets. The word that many people use to describe him is grit. He was a 3 star athlete out of high school who wanted to go to Penn St. He ended up going there but had to make the team as a walk on. He eventually won a scholarship during the tumultuous Jerry Sandusky scandal and played fairly well but was far from a great college QB. Most felt he was a semi-long shot to make the NFL as a backup. He was signed by the Raiders as an un-drafted free agent.
I looked it up and as a starter he is 1-5. He played most of the game in the 2015 opener against Cincinnati (33-13 loss) when Carr got hurt but he didn’t start. He hasn’t started a game with the Raiders since 2013 and he now finds himself in the eye of the tornado. When he did start, he played on some bad teams. At times he played very well but he also had some real rough spots.
McGloin does have some skills. His main one is he is pretty accurate. He is good on timing patterns and short to medium range passes to the outside. He also has a knack for finding tight ends and that could be a big plus in the Raiders passing game.
On the bad side his pocket awareness at times is lacking and that has gotten him into trouble in the past with turnovers against a pass rush. His delivery can be painfully slow when he’s not aware of the pressure.
His main weakness; which he also had in college; was that he doesn’t stare down his receivers; he gazes into their eyes. After McGloin takes the ball from center, you almost always know where he’s going to throw the ball. He struggles with medium to long throws down the middle because of it. Former Raider great Lincoln Kennedy a few years ago during the Raiders-Bengals game in Oakland was just frustrated. He was the Raiders sideline reporter that day for their radio team. When asked what was wrong with McGloin, Kennedy told the Raiders radio crew, “I literally know where he’s throwing the ball even before he takes the snap. Every pass he throws he’s staring down his receiver”.
How to Set Up McGloin to Succeed:
One thing the Raiders need to do is to make sure they use quick throws, preferably to the outside. Especially against a team like Denver, you don’t want him to stay in the pocket long with that pass rush all around him.
The run game is the key though. Their offensive line has had a great year and it needs to continue. The Raiders need to run the ball just like they did in the first game against the Broncos. So sick of the Bronco media saying their downfall is due to their offense because it’s just half of the reason. Their offense last year was one 19th in scoring and this year so far they are 22nd. Last year they had a running game, this year they don’t. Peyton Manning had 18 interceptions (the worst in 2015 was 19) last year and he did that in only 9 starts. Manning had the worst Super Bowl performance of any winning QB in history and was 1 for 15 on third down. Manning was 29th in passing in the NFL last year. He was atrocious. But this year so is Denver’s run defense which is getting a pass.
How Do the McGloin Lead Raiders Beat Denver:
This year the Broncos run defense is 29th in the NFL (last year #3) in rushing yards per game. The national media isn’t doing their homework blaming all of their ills on the offense. This defense is a shell of what they used to be last year.
The Raiders need to run the ball and run it some more. A first down pass to shake things up, followed by a physical run game. Denver gave up 218 rushing yards to the Raiders, 136 to the Patriots, 238 against the Chiefs, 180 against Tennessee, and 154 against Jacksonville. And this is just in the past six weeks! In those 5 games they are 1-4.
Who Will The Raiders Play In the Playoffs:
If they Beat Denver:
This Denver game may make or break the Raiders season.
If the Raiders can pull out a win against the Broncos, they now are the #2 seed. That gives them a bye the first week and then a home game against probable winner Pittsburgh. If Miami somehow wins; which I doubt very much; the Raiders will then play the highest seed left. Again it’s hard not seeing Pittsburgh winning. Miami is another overrated team with only a plus 4 point differential. Playing Pittsburgh in Oakland is a lot better than a contest in the cold of Pittsburgh. The Winner will then probably get New England on the road; a very cold, winter game. Whatever happens, the AFC championship will probably go through New England.
If they lose to Denver:
If they lose and KC beats San Diego, the Raiders will be the 5th seed. They will go to Texas and play Houston in the first round. Houston is far from a good team and they are in a bad division. This game is very winnable. If they win they then go to Kansas City or New England. Not a fun road to go down. Asking Matt McGloin; and even Carr for that matter; to win 3 road games with 2 being in the cold, is just too much. This Denver game is pivotal.
Why the Raiders Can Make a Post Season Run:
Let’s be real; if ANY team loses their starting QB, they are in trouble. Think of Pittsburgh without Ben, or the Patriots without Brady. Other than the Cowboys with Tony Romo, no one really has a good backup.
The QB position in the NFL may be the worst it’s ever been. The Raiders alone had backups in the past such as Ken Stabler, George Blanda, and Jim Plunkett. Earl Morrall lead the 1972 Dolphins to the only undefeated season when starter Bob Griese was injured in week 5. Griese made 2 appearances late in the season and played in the Super Bowl, but without backup Morrall, the Dolphins don’t end up with a perfect season.
(side note; that Miami team was the only Super Bowl team in the modern era never to be invited to the White House due to the Watergate scandal. In 2013 the 1972 Dolphins were honored at the White House by President Obama).
The NFL longs for parity. They want a new Champion every year and this year they got it. Both Super Bowl teams won’t even make the playoffs and they are thrilled. This allows for different fan bases to be involved in the big game and the playoffs.
A funny thing happened on the way to the bank though. The NFL ratings are down. What the NFL arrogantly felt is that fans would watch the NFL no matter what. That hasn’t happened. The Thursday night games have mostly been bad and there are no more great teams. In the 1960’s-90’s you had some of the greatest teams of all time; especially in the 1970’s; so when the best teams played it was must see tv. The NFL world stood still with such Matchups as the Raiders-Steelers, Steelers-Cowboys, 49ers-Cowboys and so many amazing rivalries. Now you have teams like Houston who are in first place and are going to the playoffs and they have a MINUS 42 point differential so far in their season. They’ve been outscored by 6 touchdowns this year and will make the playoffs. They are also 3-4 against teams with a winning record. That’s smelly.
In the AFC there really are only 2 QB’s to fear in the post season for the Raiders. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. And sorry KC fans. Andy Reid and Alex Smith are more conservative than Ronald Reagan at Bohemian Grove so they will never win a Super Bowl in my opinion. You win Super Bowls; you don’t hope not to lose Super Bowls.
Injuries have also hurt teams badly. Kansas City is now wondering if pass rushing star Justin Houston will ever be the same, again struggling with his health after coming back from surgery. Their other pass rushing great Tamba Hali says he has no cartilage left in his knees and can only play on passing downs.
The Texans get a myriad of players back but they have greatly missed JJ Watts this year.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is finally getting healthy but they are still struggling to keep healthy on the defensive side.
New England has their best offensive threat in RB Dion Lewis back from last years surgery but that gaping hole you see in their offense is the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski who is out for the year.
What all this means is that no team is unbeatable. Everyone has weaknesses but the Steeler’s and Patriot’s have their trump cards in two great post season quarterbacks.
Derek Carr will be out 6-8 weeks and being young, he will probably heal up quickly. If somehow, someway the Raiders get to the Super Bowl, it will be right on the 6-7 week time frame. Can he come back? Yes; many have come back and much sooner than that, but time will tell. For right now they can’t worry about that. If they lose to Denver they play an ordinary Houston team who they can beat but then they will probably get into some murky waters in Pittsburgh and New England or Kansas City. And with a backup QB, that’s not the place to be swimming.
The Raiders though have their own ace in the hole; the second best offensive line in the NFL. If the Raiders give McGloin the time they gave Carr, McGloin can have a chance to play well. The Raiders also have to use their 3 headed monster running game, using all of their RB’s to keep them fresh.
This Denver game is bigger than people think. The Raiders being the #5 seed I think gives them little to no chance of making a deep run. If they beat Denver though and are the #2 seed, they now have to gut out one home win; probably against the Steelers; to get to the Championship game against the probable winner New England. And oh the online drama. The media and fans everywhere will be in their dramatic social media glory. It will look like a Jr. High School love triangle with the melodrama of the Tuck Rule. For the meantime though the Raiders need to think one thing; beat Denver.