Reports from training camp yesterday were that projected starting quarterback Matt Schaub threw two consecutive Pick-Sixes to future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson during the team session, prompting the usual social media cacophony of jokes by Raider haters and anxiety by Raider fans. But there’s no need for concern.
Clearly reports of Matt Schaub throwing a practice pick-six after his 2013 season – in which he threw one in four consecutive games – are going to generate more attention and anxiety than normal, even this early in training camp. But camp INT’s happen all the time, and to even the best quarterbacks. Case in point, Tom Brady threw a pick-six in practice yesterday to Darrelle Revis. Manning, Rodgers, Brees…all have thrown their share of camp interceptions. Matt Schaub, although he is a veteran, is still in the process of learning Greg Olson’s system and getting timing with a very young, inexperienced group of WR’s (James Jones notwithstanding). Charles Woodson has already spent a year in Jason Tarver’s defense, and is only a couple years removed from being the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a future hall of famer. Defenses in camp tend to play the ball far more aggressively, since they can’t take receivers down or deliver big hits on their teammates, while at the same time, receivers in camp have a tendency to shy away from potential contact from safeties like Woodson when working on deep routes or middle routes. The coaching staff is also attempting to plug in new plays every day in team sessions, to see if they will work against various defensive looks. The play Olson was trying to plug in yesterday may need to go back to the drawing board.
Team sessions in camp tend to have a streaky quality to them. For two or three days in a row, the defense will dominate the offense, then the offense will start dominating the defense. Nearly every observer in camp has said that Schaub has looked crisp, ready, and confident for the past week, and a couple of practice picks against a future hall of famer are likely not going to change that. What one can take away from the news is that Woodson is still very capable, very energetic, and is going to continue to be a leader on this team throughout the year. Schaub is making his mistakes early, when it doesn’t matter, so hopefully those mistakes don’t happen in games that count.