Programming note: For comprehensive Raiders coverage from Alameda, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6:00, 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
ALAMEDA – Nearly a year ago to the day, the Raiders rested quarterback Matt Flynn due to elbow tendinitis. It was the beginning of the end for a presumed starter with a bunch of guaranteed money.
Terrelle Pryor started the final preseason game, the regular-season opener and relegated Flynn to a backup role.
On Sunday afternoon, we had a close case of déjà vu. Veteran quarterback Matt Schaub was held out of practice with an elbow injury. Young, popular backup Derek Carr took first team reps and should play significant time in Thursday’s preseason finale.
Despite strong similarities – both guys are named Matt, for goodness sake – it’s too early to consider this an exact parallel.
Head coach Dennis Allen said they would monitor Schaub each day. Last year, he said Flynn would rest for an extended period.
Flynn would ice his elbow after each practice, and had arm troubles in 2012 with Seattle. Allen said Schaub hadn’t complained about his elbow before.
“He came in yesterday afternoon with a little soreness in his elbow, so we gave him the day off,” Allen said. “We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow and kind of take that day by day.”
Allen said he was not concerned about Schaub’s arm – Saturday he said he had no concerns about a perceived lack of arm strength – but elbow issues are a red flag for guys who make a living throwing passes or pitches.
Schaub was not made available for comment, though he’s scheduled to speak with the press on Monday afternoon. Carr was not in the locker room during a period open to the press.
The Raiders hoped, and still believe, that Schaub can bring stability to the quarterback position, something they never had last season. That hasn’t happened yet. The passing game has really struggled under his watch, though that’s not entirely his fault.
While Flynn’s tenure was universally panned as a failure, preseason stats and a lack of zip on his fastball that cost him a starting job are shockingly similar to Schaub’s stats. In several categories, Schaub has been worse.
The numbers through three preseason games:
Flynn: 19-for-27, 180 yards (6.7 avg), 1 TD, 2 INT, 70 passer rating
Schaub: 24-for-47, 218 yards (4.6 avg), 0 TD, 1 INT, 55.1 passer rating
Flynn fell quickly out of favor after being acquired for a late-round pick and renegotiating a contract with $6.5 million fully guaranteed. He made one start for Pryor, was demoted to third string shortly after and was released on Oct. 7, 2013.
Schaub was also acquired for a late-round pick and renegotiated a deal that includes $8 million in fully guaranteed money for 2014.
It’s hard to imagine Schaub following Flynn’s path, though a strong performance from Carr on Thursday against Seattle would certainly stoke flames of a quarterback controversy within the fan base.
Allen remains committed to Schaub as the starter heading towards a pivotal regular season for the team and his tenure in Oakland.
Schaub’s absence could be a short stint, and this elbow soreness could be minor in the grand scheme. Flynn’s experience suggests it could develop into something more.
No matter the end result, the passing game needs work. Having their offensive leader out for any stretch will slow that process down.