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The Peculiar Position of Matt McGloin


Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) during the first half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason 2014 Through Week 3

Cumulative Stats Passing PFF Grade: Schaub -4.5, Carr 0.2, McGloin 6.5
Cumulative Stats Overall PFF Grade: Schaub -3.2, Carr 0.7, McGloin 7.4
TDs: Schaub 0, Carr 1, McGloin 3
INTs: Schaub 1, Carr 1, McGloin 0

Matt McGloin never had a chance.

Despite being Pro Football Focus’s top rated preseason QB through Week 3 (as Just Blog Baby editor Chase Ruttig discusses here), it will take an act of the heavens, or job-saving desperation, for McGloin to be more than a stop-gap in the current Raiders regime. He won’t get first team reps. For unlike the situations presented to Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, the Raiders bureaucracy doesn’t allow for much risk-taking on the parts of Head Coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie.

There’s an entire system of accountability, branding, and bureaucracy working against McGloin. Looking back, it seems McGloin’s fate in Oakland was sealed from the beginning. 

Offseason 2012. Al Davis has passed on. Day-to-day control of the team has been passed to Mark Davis, eager to tackle his first offseason to show the Raider Nation, and future stadium investors, that he’s capable of turning this team around. He wants to make it clear that the Mark Davis era of Raiders football will stand apart from the turmoil and despair characteristic of the later Al years. Aware of the criticism he’d face being both the owner and GM as his father did, he promises to hire a GM. Don’t worry, Raider Nation. He’s got a guy.

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Former Raiders’ linebacker Reggie McKenzie is brought in from Green Bay’s front office to oversee the sea-change. With a dearth of draft picks, a load of terrible contracts, and nearly zero cap space, McKenzie gets to work. He is sure to make it clear to Davis that this is a multi-year project. They’re going to need to clear cap space, dump toxic contracts, make intelligent trades, and build through the draft if they want to have long lasting success. Hue Jackson made a huge power play when Al died and unofficially appointed himself the interim GM – so he’s gone. Who can come in and bring the new vision of the Raiders to life? Don’t worry, Mark. Reggie’s got a guy of his own.

Dennis Allen is hired to be an NFL head coach for the first time in his career after overseeing a Denver defense that helped get Tim Tebow to the playoffs. With a new defensive minded head coach, some intriguing young talent, and a veteran QB in Carson Palmer that helped lead the team to 8-8, the Raiders should be able to maintain some reasonable success while transitioning into the era of better management and long term consistent success, right? 4-12. Not even close. Raider Nation isn’t happy, potential stadium investors aren’t happy, Mark Davis isn’t happy. A little drop in performance was expected. Cutting the wins in half was not.

Offseason 2013. Carson Palmer gets traded. Good riddance, he was Hue Jackson’s draft pick draining guy anyway. McKenzie and Allen need a new guy of their own. They don’t need to win the AFC West right away, they just need to make sure to they have someone they can point to to show that they are moving in the right direction. They find their guy in Matt Flynn, the former answer to Seattle’s quarterback issue that was beaten out by rookie superstar Russell Wilson in camp. He disappoints immediately as the two backup QBs show more talent and production in preseason. Two draft picks gone and half a season later Matt Flynn isn’t even on the roster.

Fan favorite and Al Davis’s last guy Terrelle Pryor gains the starting role. They quickly attempt to adapt to Pryor’s talents. New flashes of excitement emerge but don’t yet become wins. Pryor gets injured and finally Matt McGloin gets the chance to start for the team. Matt McGloin is far from perfect. However, he looks much better than one would expect of an undrafted rookie. He makes rookie mistakes with a depleted roster and once again the team goes 4-12. The last game of the season Allen starts Pryor as a political move to show that he’s trying to find the right combination of guys to get victories.

Finally we’re back to the present. Offseason 2014. Pryor is gone. Good riddance, he was Al’s guy anyway. The pressure is on and McKenzie and Allen need some symbol of their decision making. They jump right on it and find their guy in Matt Schaub. Sound familiar? This is the key problem. As long as McKenzie and Allen are under pressure to deliver wins now while simultaneously doing a complete rebuild of the team (very contradictory goals) Matt McGloin can’t be the guy in Oakland.

When Kaepernick and Wilson took over their teams it was under a completely different context. Coaching positions were safe. The teams were trending upward, built atop elite ranked defenses which covered for sputtering offenses. These teams just needed a little offensive bump to get over the edge. That’s simply not the case in Oakland. McKenzie and Allen have no area of the team that plays at an elite level, so they have to swing for the fences.

With their heads on the chopping block and nearly impossible expectations placed before them they are going to make the decisions that look best for their jobs and have the potential for instant playoff level success. The offseason signings are clear proof of this strategy. Go with the once-elite veteran. Go with the high draft pick. They simply can’t afford to be creative. They can’t go with someone that still needs to be developed – no matter how much talent he is displaying. They have to go with someone that best elevates their personal and professional branding right now. Most importantly, Allen needs to be able to go to McKenzie, McKenzie to Davis, and Davis to investors, and comfort their respective woes by saying, “Told you I had a guy.”

For now it seems “their guy” won’t be Matt McGloin. How that translates in the future of the 2014 Oakland Raiders season and the futures of Allen, McKenzie, and Mark Davis is unknown but in the case of Matt McGloin the team not feeling he is “the guy” likely means that his dreams of being a starter in the NFL lie away from the Raiders.