Whether it’s general progress, confidence or arm strength, quarterback Matt Schaub’s game is being dissected with great detail. Every preseason throw has been graded by armchair coordinators, and those marks are causing a stir among the fan base.
The Raiders coaching staff answers such question on every trip to the podium. They offer support and mild annoyance at a storyline that will never die.
But, after a disastrous 2013 season with the Houston Texans to where ill-fated interceptions eventually cost him a starting job, skepticism is understandable.
While his preseason results haven’t been sterling, offensive coordinator Greg Olson offered a sound reason for optimism.
“The biggest thing with Matt is the decision making,” Olson said. “After the last season, is he making the right decisions? He had one ball last week on a hitch route where a corner drove and it had a chance to get intercepted. He lost vision of the corner so, to me, that wasn’t a decision on his part. Unless you see a corner, you better make sure before you throw it.
“Other than that, he hasn’t been forcing the ball, which has been a plus. He’s making good decisions. … I think his confidence is up. We haven’t seen, throughout training camp, a bunch of ill-fated decisions so that’s been a plus.”
There was one moment that made Olson hold his breath. Schaub threw a nice ball to James Jones in Friday’s game that clanked off the receiver’s hands and ended up an interception with a big return. It looked like a pick six, something that plagued Schaub last season.
“After last season, you’re thinking, 'This isn’t going to go back for a touchdown,'” Olson said. “The guy’s first time in front of the home crowd and that’s what almost happened.”
Preseason results don’t matter, but Olson was pleased with the decision and where he threw it. The Raiders haven’t connected on a big play, but Olson believes the arm strength hasn’t declined since he’s been here.
The passing game needs work all around, from picking up blitzes -- sometimes, that’s on Schaub -- to receivers securing passes to quarterback play. Head coach Dennis Allen sees progress from that phase, including a quarterback under the microscope.
“I like where Matt is at,” Allen said. “I seem to get that question a lot, but I am confident with where we’re at offensively. I know our group is confident with where we’re at. I know Matt Schaub is confident with where he’s at. Do we need to improve? Yeah, we have to get better in some areas. We have to continue to work. That’s what training camp is all about. That’s what these preseason games are all about. So yeah, I feel good about where we’re at.”