The 2013 NFL off-season has been busier than usual for the three-time world champion Oakland Raiders. Although value has been added, the only Nation in sports has learned to tame their expectations as free agent signings and draft busts of the past fill the Black Hole. By now, new age Raider fans, like myself, probably despise the “team of the decades” adjective. It has been a long time since a Raider addition has meant anything in Oakland. In the past, castoffs like Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice have made my smile wider and our arrogance louder. I loved watching players that were committed to winning and not just themselves. The commitment to excellence began within the organization in 1960 and is now shared throughout a nation. This is why Raider Nation has stayed loyal and patient throughout the past decade. Unfortunately, recent players have tarnished the legacy that generated the best fans in all of sports. Now, we hear about players going to the black hole to die. The franchise has become a joke and it’s rare to see any player acquisition taken seriously. This year is no different. After being a consistent quarterback in Houston, the newest member of this punch line is Matt Schaub. In order to properly analyze this acquisition and the team’s outlook, we need to move on from 11-straight losing seasons along with Schaub’s 2013 performance.
In 2013, the Houston Texans started the season at the top of the food chain. Labelled as the best in the AFC South, some picked them to represent their conference in the Super Bowl. The hype was real until defenses started devouring Schaub’s passes and digesting them for six points. A year that started off promising ended in embarrassment and Houston decided to end their investment in their pro bowl quarterback. Once released, it didn’t take long for Oakland to enter Schaub’s peripheral. The Raiders haven’t had a relevant quarterback since 2003, and expectations for a signal caller couldn’t be higher. Even though no one seems to be giving Schaub a chance, or the Raiders for that matter, Dennis Allen seems to think he added a “quarterback that’s on par with the quarterbacks in this division.” Talk is only speculation, but I wanted to take this opportunity to present the only nation with the optimism it deserves.
As we review the last six months, we can’t ignore the post Pryor saga in Oakland. The last two years saw a deep divide amongst Raider nation while chat rooms and comment sections saw hate exchanged for pride. Forget about pride and poise… Some viewed our quarterback room as promising, while others saw it as a frustration. Either way, when you have two quarterbacks and neither of them can crack the top 32 in efficiency, then you have a serious problem.
There was little hope when free agency began as a many analysts concluded Oakland’s best option was Josh Freeman. The remaining free agent quarterbacks were just as exciting. The list was headlined by Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, and Matt Cassell. For those of you that believe Josh McCown was the best free agent available you’re fooling yourself. My thought process in regards began with Kevin Kolb and ended with Matt Flynn.
If the Raiders wanted a chance in 2014, they needed to sign a quarterback with legitimate NFL Experience. When I mention experience, I’m not referring to players like Chadd Henne, Rex Grossman, or Matt McGloin for that matter. First and foremost, they needed a quarterback that knew how to read a defense and get a team in and out of the huddle effectively. In addition to this required trait, they needed a signal caller that has proven success in the league. Last time I checked, Pro Bowl appearances, division championships, and being immersed in the journey to the NFL postseason is considered a good amount of success.
It is impossible to predict what type of quarterback the Raiders are getting in Matt Schaub, but his career numbers reiterate Dennis Allen’s opinion of the QB.. No matter what the media says, you can’t deny Schaub’s capabilities. Unfortunately for Oakland though, Matt Schaub’s 2013 season has overshadowed his experience and tarnished his resume. By now, everyone should be tired of hearing about what happened in 2013. Either way you look at it, Schaub is a significant upgrade at the quarterback position in Oakland. No matter what type of season he has, it will be better than anything we’ve seen in a while. Just like the Raider legacy, it’s going to take commitment to excellence in order to reverse the opinions of both parties. The only thing that should matter is the legacy that the organization creates for itself moving forward.
Oakland has longed for a franchise QB, but with a defensive minded GM and head coach, they don’t need one. The Raiders’s achilles heel in 2013 was their pass defense. When we covered well (Tennesee), our rush couldn’t get to the quarterback. When we created hurries, our backend couldn’t cover. The Raiders haven’t been “one player away” in the last 11 seasons. Aside from possessing playmakers in general, they’ve simply lacked players that have love for the game of football. The quarterback position was only a part of the problem. If you don’t obtain talent that cares about winning, then you’re stuck with a roster full of men that don’t even know how to.
We’ve bolstered our pass rush and our offensive line has been upgraded significantly. Reggie has added proven veteran talent at almost every position in hopes they rub off on a team full of players without direction. Once the foundation is in place, the franchise QB is up for discussion. Until then, we have to realize what it’s going to take to be successful in 2014. The first step has been made towards that realization and the rest will be determined in training camp and on the field. Schaub is enough.
The Raiders have talent, they just need to learn how to work together towards a common goal. Football is the ultimate team sport. Being a former college football player, I can attest to this. If you have a good mix of leadership and talent, the sky is the limit. Matt Schaub is only one addition. Even though he was a necessity, we can’t focus too much on his performance. Charles Woodson is counting on him, but he’s also counting on his defensive line. MJD wants a passing attack that sets up the run game, but he also knows the offensive line needs to work in unison. Some say we don’t have a number one receiver but who cares if we truly have five or 6 legitimate receiving threats? Matt Schaub doesn’t need to be a top 10 quarterback. He needs to be confident in his organization, coaches, and teammate and the rest will take care of itself. I like out chances.
I believe in the type of team that Reggie and Dennis are building in Oakland. I feel as though they are doing it the right way, with the right players. Even though the past two years have been difficult, I expect us to be competitive in 2014. Matt Schaub is our starting quarterback and there’s little we can do about it besides talk. Let the season speak for itself and then we’ll open discussions. My expectations are always sky high, but this year feels a little different. But, if you think one player is going to make or break us then think again. We now boast a team of men that are determined to break the 11 year losing streak while making a name for themselves and our historic franchise. Matt Schaub is only one of them.
Look out for my next article pertaining to the underrated Lamar Woodley. Follow me on Twitter JordanTTrask