Programming note: Raiders Insider Scott Bair is in Orlando, Florida for the NFL owners meetings; check back for all his coverage and watch SportsNet Central every night at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s football news
ORLANDO, Fla. – Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said quarterback Matt Schaub is “on par” with the talented arms of the AFC West.
Yup, that includes Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith, a skillful bunch with a long track record of success. The first seems headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The second is a cannon-armed gunslinger. The third is a smart, efficient team leader.
How can Schaub possibly compare when our short-term memory – and every telecast announcing Friday’s trade with Houston – replays pick sixes on a constant loop?
It was only a year ago that Schaub belly flopped and was benched for an undrafted rookie.
Look beyond it and you’ll see quality production. Three 4,000-yard seasons in four campaigns. Never a year exceeding 15 interceptions. He’s completed 64-percent of his passes, which ranks No. 9 in NFL history. His 89.8 passer rating is No. 13 all time.
P.S. Those numbers include last year’s debacle, when Schaub threw 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 10 games and eight starts.
The Raiders believe he can return to old form. They’re all-in betting that he can.
Allen gets it. His Tuesday remark that Schaub is equal to AFC West quarterbacks has been mocked. Allen doesn’t care. He’s sticking with his guy.
“It’s not a shame to get knocked down. It’s a shame not to get back up,” Allen said Tuesday morning in an hour-long sit down at the NFL owner’s meetings. “This is a guy who has been a Pro Bowl player. He has been a top 10 quarterback over the last five years.
“We believe and he believes that he’s still that good. I don’t think that changes overnight. Do I think he’ll have a chip on his shoulder? Yeah, I think he will. Will there be added incentive for him to prove what I he can do? Yeah, I think there will be. And I think that’s a good thing.”
If you want to pounce and take “on par” literally, go for it. It isn’t accurate. No active quarterback save Tom Brady is on par with Peyton Manning.
Let’s not forget even the best have their hiccups. Rivers threw 20 interceptions in 2011, a season where the Chargers didn’t make the playoffs. Smith’s career started so slow he was considered a bust. Both recovered just fine.
This is a pivotal juncture in Schaub’s career. Early slip-ups and he’s in the doghouse again, maybe for good. But the Raiders think a fresh start will do him good.
Any place but Houston should help, a place where his Texans jersey was burned during a season gone horribly wrong.
“When you get in tough situations and the dominoes start to fall, it’s hard to stop the momentum,” Allen said. “For whatever reason, whether it’s the fan base or the coaching staff or ownership, it can be tough when the tide turns against you to get turned back around. To put 2013 behind him in Oakland with a fresh start, with a group that believes in his him, will benefit him.”
That last part wasn’t for you or me. Allen was speaking directly to Schaub. He was with the “on par” comment, too.
He’s covertly trying to help a talented player with a major case of the yips. Allen is trying relieve a crisis of confidence and get Schaub ready for a tough campaign in a grueling division where progress must be made.
Schaub is the lynchpin to this entire offseason, and poor quarterback play could sink the Raiders for a second straight season. Raiders brass can’t afford that. Neither can Schaub. Confidence is key to this shot at redemption, and Allen’s trying to give it to him.
“He’s excited about the opportunity,” he said, “and we’re excited about giving it to him.”