The gift and curse of Matt McGloin’s roster spot


Aug 15, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) prepares to throw a pass before the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It would seem August and Matt McGloin were made for each other. Once again, the perennial preseason standout has earned himself Oakland’s backup QB job, edging out offseason addition Christian Ponder for the roster spot. It’s a cause for celebration for McGloin’s fiercely loyal fanbase who have watch him make mincemeat of second & third string defenses for the last three years. But is it really the best thing that could have happened to McGloin?

Remember when Pete Carroll went to Seattle and declared an open quarterback competition despite Matt Flynn’s new contract? Contrast that with Jack Del Rio coming to Oakland and making it clear that Carr is the Day 1 starter. Neither is a better or worse way for the coaches to run their team, it’s just the difference in opportunity for Matt McGloin to see more regular season snaps. Perhaps the better situation for McGloin would be a Seattle-like quarterback competition.

Despite being fiercely competitive and showing growth every year, barring a catastrophic injury to Derek Carr, there’s almost no chance McGloin can become a starter for the Raiders. Some of it is political (as discussed in context of the Dennis Allen regime last year), but it mostly just feels like that ship has sailed in Oakland, as they are all in on Carr.

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  • As a thought experiment, let’s pretend that McGloin got cut by the Raiders and became available to the 31 other teams in the league. What does the overall image of Matt McGloin look like to league GMs?

    First, Matt McGloin is a QB who has shown consistent year to year improvement – at least in preseason. His overall preseason Pro Football Focus grades from 2013-2015 are -6.0, 7.7, and 3.7 respectively. His average preseason NFL QB rating shares a similar story increasing from 64.5 in 2013, to 89.7 in 2014, and finishing with an astounding 110.6 this season. Raider Nation fondly recalls the hype when Matt McGloin was rated the top preseason quarterback last year? There’s no way McGloin hasn’t caught a few eyes over the last few years.

    While there’s little doubt Matt McGloin performs well against depth players in preseason, his regular season game tape isn’t as complimentary. In his seven games in 2013, Matt McGloin earned a 76.1 QB rating. He threw for 1,547 yards, connecting on 118 of 211 passing attempts for a completion percentage of 55.9% and 7.3 yards per attempt. While those aren’t stellar numbers, they aren’t too far off from another quarterback we know.

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    Derek Carr had a very comparable 76.6 QB rating in 2014, with 3,270 yards on 348 completions of 599 passing attempts. Carr edged out McGloin on completion percentage with 58.1% to McGloin’s 55.9%, and did much better in TD to INT (Carr – 21/12; McGloin 8/8). Matt McGloin only really beats Carr in yards per attempt with 7.3 for McGloin to Carr’s 5.5.  The numbers for McGloin are clearly replacement level, but seeing as they aren’t too far behind starting QB Derek Carr, perhaps there is some intrigue. And don’t forget those regular season numbers for McGloin are two years old at this point.

    The question for Matt McGloin is… What would be the best situation for his career and professional growth? Could it be entering into a volatile but wide open QB competition such as in Cleveland, Washington, or Houston? There’s a chance that in a fresh situation with new eyes on him and an equal playing ground could do wonders for McGloin’s growth and chances as an NFL starter.

    Perhaps the dream scenario would be to go to a team with an established elite quarterback, such as Denver, New Orleans, or even San Diego. In such a situation, McGloin could be groomed to take the reigns over the next couple of years while learning behind some of the best QBs in the game. It’s not at all unreasonable to think that two years learning under Drew Brees or Peyton Manning might be exactly what McGloin needs to take that next step to NFL competency.

    Alas, we might never know. Life as backup QB is like getting silver at the Olympics. You technically made it, but no one really remembers you for long. Luckily for Matt McGloin, Raiders fans across the country have his back.

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