Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

It’s Just a Start … But of What?

The Oakland Raiders will bench Terrelle Pryor in favor of undrafted rookie Matt McGloin for a second straight week on Sunday. Does it signal a new era, the beginning of a quarterback controversy, or that it’s time (yet again!) for the organization to go back to the drawing board?

By
Jim Trotter
· More from Jim·

It makes sense what Raiders coach Dennis Allen is planning to do on Sunday, even if it means he might be fueling a quarterback controversy of his own making. He’s going with Matt McGloin for a second straight week after the undrafted rookie threw three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 28-23 win at Houston.

McGloin made his first career start last week after Allen and other members of the organization had become frustrated with Terrelle Pryor’s shortcomings as a passer—especially a sudden spree of turnovers in his last four starts, which featured eight interceptions, a 50.8 completion percentage and only one touchdown. When the former Ohio State star sprained a knee on Nov. 3 against the Eagles, the staff had a ready-made opportunity to give McGloin a look, and they liked what they saw. Now they’re going to keep riding the hot hand.

Maybe he’ll continue to play well, but every time I hear McGloin’s name I think of Houston quarterback Case Keenum—because four weeks ago Keenum was McGloin.

The Texans had lost four in a row, including three by at least 25 points, with Matt Schaub throwing more touchdown passes to opponents rather than his own receivers in two of those games. Enter Keenum, an energetic gun-slinging second-year quarterback who was the NCAA’s all-time leading passer in touchdowns, yards and completions at the University of Houston.

In his first start the undrafted rookie nearly directed an upset of the undefeated Chiefs, throwing for 271 yards and a touchdown in a 17-16 loss on Oct 20. In his next outing, Keenum threw for 350 yards and three scores, and had the Texans four minutes away from beating the division-leading Colts before falling, 27-24. In his third start, another three-point loss, he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Cardinals.

Raiders fans are so desperate to get a quarterback they can believe in that it’s easy to overlook the warning signs from last week’s win. McGloin was effective, but he couldn’t have been put in a better situation.

There was a feeling that, despite the defeats, the franchise had a young quarterback it could build around. The fact that he was a local boy made it a feel-good story. The problem, however, is that the NFL is a notorious graveyard for fairytales. It’s where happy endings are laid to rest, and in the third quarter of last Sunday’s 28-23 loss to Oakland, Kubiak essentially shoveled dirt on Keenum by benching him.

Raiders fans are so desperate to get a quarterback they can believe in that it’s easy to overlook the warning signs from last week’s win. Yes, McGloin was effective, but he couldn’t have been put in a better situation. Houston began the game by turning the ball over twice in its first three possessions, both times inside its own 20-yard line. McGloin responded by throwing for scores each time, but had only one touchdown the rest of the way. In the second half he was little more than a caretaker, as Rashard Jennings scored on an 80-yard run and the defense forced Houston to kick field goals of 26 and 30 yards in the fourth quarter.

McGloin gets another chance to state his case against Tennessee, but just as Keenum struggled after opponents were able to study film on him, so, too, could McGloin against a talented Titans secondary that has surrendered just three touchdown passes in its last eight games.

words tk (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
Matt McGloin met up last Sunday with Houston QB Case Keenum, who seemed to breathe new life into the Texans but was ultimately benched in the third quarter of last week’s loss to the Raiders. If he struggles, McGloin could realize a similar fate in the coming weeks.  (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

In the meantime, McGloin remains a great story: He entered Penn State as a walk-on and left as the record-holder for career touchdowns (46). He also climbed from fourth on the Raiders’ depth chart—behind Pryor, the departed Matt Flynn and rookie Tyler Wilson—to become the starter. Inspiring, yes. But one quality start (against a two-win team) isn’t reason enough to forget that he went undrafted and was passed over by Washington and Carolina after post-draft workouts. Scouts who evaluated him before the draft say it’s because he lacks athleticism and is prone to bouts of inconsistency. In fact, only once in his college career did he finish a season with a completion rate above 54.9%.

So, let’s play this forward and hypothesize that neither McGloin nor Pryor is the answer. Then who is? That’s a scary question, considering general manager Reggie McKenzie has yet to show he has an answer. He traded a fifth-round pick for Flynn and restructured his contract to guarantee $6.5 million, then released Flynn six months later. He also drafted Wilson in the fourth round and waived him after a poor preseason. And earlier this season, when Pryor was actually playing well, he pursued Josh Freeman following his release from the Bucs.

McKenzie has said he expects the Raiders to challenge for the division title in his third year on the job, which is next season. But if he doesn’t get the quarterback situation resolved, he’ll be no closer to returning the franchise to relevancy than it was when he took over.

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35 comments
flaite
flaite

neither mcgloin nor pryor are the short term answer. both of them have a lot to prove if they want the starting job.  pryor is doing an almost decent job, he should be given the chance to keep starting games.  both of theses qbs, despite the differences, have a lot to develop.  and dont forget mcgloin, by now, payed only 2 games, give theses guys some time.  nobody expects anything from the raiders right now but rebuild, and im a raiders fan!  the whole team lacks of maturity, so why these rookie qbs would be the exception? specially pryor (who showed more, only because he spent mor time on the field), who lost very winnable (?) games.  fault´s on the media who gets unnecesarily excited about these kinds of things.


candy14
candy14

Raider Nation.......I really feel ur pain of watching ur favorite team continue to struggle, (Pirates Fan), but even an non NFL Level GM would have to finally look in any mirror and question the long tenure of continued Losing.....its more than just one Top QB can offer as a quick fix........most had to do with Al Davis and the constant Coaching Changes, bad evaluating, and over paying for average players at the very minimum. Good Luck

caleb.tiner
caleb.tiner

First the media says how tough it will be for McGloin to go up against the Texans #1 pass defense and now it's he couldn't have been put in a better situation? Which one is it? You guys just can't stand to see the Raiders do well. It's funny actually.

raidershero
raidershero

This article reads like tabloid trash from the very first sentence. There is a major difference between being "benched" and being injured; the latter of the two being Pryor's case (at least last week). I'm assuming you know Reggie, Dennis and Mark personally and they told you their decision this week to "bench" Pryor was based solely on his recent performance. Otherwise I cannot fathom how you came to this conclusion.

ianlinross
ianlinross

How did anybody, including the author of this article, ever think that Pryor was a legitimate starter in the first place? Pick your poison folks, undrafted rookie or Matt Flynn (now with GB). What's your level of comfort?

anton
anton

Raider Nation! Good morning! Please, let's get it through to these lame-a** sports writers that there is no quarterback "controversy" in Oakland. I'm willing to bet we have a drama free locker room, yet, the writers would like to "create" something that's not there. Maybe we have a quarterback "competition" but nothing more. Stop trying to perpetuate something that's not there. Recognize we have 2 hungry young guys that want to lead a team to victories. Leave the gossip and storytelling of it. It has no place in football.

raveezy
raveezy

you guys are all missing the fact that there is no O-Line to help McGloin grow his pocket passing game! thats the first thing that needs to be addressed! he needs more time in the pocket and who knows he may be the next big thing!

TboneMalone
TboneMalone

Running QB's do not win the big game.  Mike Vick?  Wilson?  RG3?  Cam Newton?  Go back through the years, the "running QB" cannot get it done.  Shucks, Trent Dilfer won the super bowl able to run something like a 28.7 second "40-yard dash".  The Manning bro's - don't run (can't), Brady (can't run),   The only scrambling QB's that I can remember who won were Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton.  Both could scramble, but would almost always scramble behind the line of scrimmage while waiting for a receiver to get open.  Neither tucked and ran for first downs.  Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Big Ben ... go down the line.  Running QB's don't win, pocket passers do!  I'm vary surprised by that fact, but it is true.    I say "go McGloin"  If Payton Manning won only three games in his first starting season.  Hell, McGloin has shown me more with a win in his first start.  A win with no INT's, and a bunch - a ton - of dropped balls that absolutely should have been caught.

David15
David15

The only issue I have with this article is that Jim seems to be evaluating McGloin like he's been in a league a while. He's a rookie, of course there were warning signs and ups and downs over the course of the game. Assuming he starts the remainder of the season, he'll probably have at least one awful game and a couple where he's effective like last week. Thats what rookies do. It takes longer than half a season to determine whether a guy is a franchise QB, but last week's game was a good start. With that said, based on his measurable talent level, McGloin is probably best suited as a backup, game manager type of QB.

gary41
gary41

This article is a perfect example of why MMQB is not very effective.  What is needed is an editor, with sufficient background, to assign writers, lacking direction and ability, specific research topics for review.  A limited number of these articles are pretty good, but most are frankly deficient. 

gary41
gary41

Absolutely nothing new in this article.  Reggie McKenzie was a LB, with no understanding of QB's.  With a poor record already, albeit having to work from a position of making repairs, hopefully he will be smart enough to hire someone specifically to do this work.  What they are doing now is testing QB candidates on the job, instead of doing so during the preseason.  The job of a GM is not to operate a revolving door for QB rejects, but to make the right selection in the first place.  In this regard, he needs specialized help.  They have big choices coming up in the draft, but mistakes, similar to those in the past, will be very costly.  Again, thanks for nothing....

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

We are only a game out of the last wildcard spot . Even if the Raiders don't know who the future is now at qb the Raiders are still building one fine team . Flynn was never meant to be more than a stop gap . Lets see what McGloin can do . Pryor unfortunately has regressed . If McGloin doesn't pass muster lets see what Wilson can do . If we see a franchise qb available guess what , we are 60 million under the cap next season . I'm very excited to be a Raider fan for the first time in a LONG while .

mightycw
mightycw

As a Broncos fan who happily drank the Tebow kool-aid for as long as good luck and long field goals kept him winning, I can't blame any Raiders fan for hopping on the McGloin bandwagon. But unless he's a very different QB than the one I watched in the Big 10 I don't see it lasting long. Weak arm, mediocre accuracy, often struggled against tougher defenses...did very little to suggest he was even an above average college quarterback, let alone a potential NFL starter. Intangibles like "leadership" and "grit" can only take you so far; at some point you've got to have the physical and mental chops. Or, to put it another way, I dunno if Pryor is the answer but I'd rather play against the Raiders with McGloin as their QB any day.

123jakobzrate@gmail
123jakobzrate@gmail

idk...with jj watt and a pretty playoff competing team..mcgloin threw three td passes. and don't forget he will sling it no matter what so far.i thought he was a 2 year nil starter..man he puts the ball perfect last game. if he does the same thing against Tennessee man he will be perfect for this raider offense. lets go raiders and get this wildcard spot!


screenpass
screenpass

Hmmm, what member of the Raider organization is Jim Trotter trying to get fired THIS week?

Mpmnpa
Mpmnpa

Peter King would not be the first national "talking head" to doubt Matt McGloin. Back in 2010 when a back-up to Rob Bolden (what a joke that was) McGloin was tapped to start against Michigan. That prompted Kirk Herbstreit to declare that McGloin could not beat Michigan which he of course did. Matt called him out and in an interview Herbie admitted his error. http://www.scout.com/2/1017288.html

Visionz311
Visionz311

He'll be back to the bench soon enough.  He played well against a very banged up Houston defense, but let's not getting carried away and act like he's a legit NFL starting QB.

Raiderbartender
Raiderbartender

McGloin isn't a miracle worker, but he is a good, decisive QB. He will play decent enough to get the Raiders to 8-8. Pryor should be used as a gadget player. You heard it here first.


CMFJ
CMFJ

"Does it signal a new era?"


Of course.  The lesson I have learned is that if a QB has an effective game, he is then destined to be in the HOF.  I honestly feel bad that Trotter had to put that in the opening.  

anon76
anon76

Not sure why you can call Keenum's very good play thus far a warning for McGloin.  The fact that Kubiak benched Keenum is much more an indictment of Kub's decision making thany any play by the young QB.  Peyton Manning only managed to win 3 games his rookie season.  Not because his play was bad, but because no QB play was capable of overcoming the performance of the rest of the team.

AceSlater
AceSlater

Keenum is a scrambler and mcgloin isnt, regardless of what, We still need to see what this kid has and only way to know is by playing him.We ll have a better understanding of what he brings to the table this sunday and we'll take it from their.

Ucla74
Ucla74

"...even if it means he might be fueling a quarterback controversy of his own making." Journalists make quarterback controversies. Coaches coach, players play. There'd be a bigger controversy if the head coach did NOT do what he believes gives his team its best chance of winning.

Nicholas11
Nicholas11

I am a Raider fan anxiously awaiting the answer to their revolving quarterback situation.  I am realistic, knowing that Matt Flynn was a mediocre QB given many chances based on one good performance with the Packers, TP potentially lacks the ability to be a competent pocket passer, and that once teams have film on McGloin that he will need to adjust or flounder.  I originally set my expectations way low this year, knowing how much money they had tied up in bad contracts and players that were already gone, so this year has been a mostly pleasant surprise, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  I will hold onto hope that McGloin can surprise the world, but realize that the long term need is likely not on the roster at this point.  I do feel that this coaching staff is one that could be successful going forward, especially as they become more free to sign higher impact players, so my one hope is that there is not another "house cleaning" where they will have to start all over yet again.

JoeMonastro
JoeMonastro

Jim, Houston has the #1 rated pass defense in the NFL.  So stop minimizing what he did in his very first start as a rookie just because houston only has two wins. 

KinCade
KinCade

@David15 Same thing I was saying about Pryor , He Completed 64% of his Passes and was accountable for most of the Raiders Offense and when injuries hit the team his production went down.   Wiz ,Pasho and Watson got Hurt then Mcfadden and Jennging both Had Hamstrings no O-line and No Running game ,  TP being the only Threat on Offense due to Injuries is not a recipe for success .And just like you said it takes time to be a Franchise QB and having bad games is part of the growing Process .  Peyton manning threw 28ints his Rookie year so it takes time , for a Rookie or First Year starter ..  

screenpass
screenpass

@Visionz311 I love it, people like you have been fueling this guy since high school.  Keep up the good work.

Mpmnpa
Mpmnpa

Keep saying that. That's all this guy has ever heard and he just keeps proving the doubters wrong!

Raiderbartender
Raiderbartender

@Visionz311 No he won't. I have watched this guy for quite a while. He is a determined individual with a decent skill set. Success depends a lot on mindset, and he is solid in the mental department.

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

@Raiderbartender Thats how I feel . You could put a 10-15 play a game package for Pryor and let McGLoin start the rest of the way . I think that would be the best scenerio for the rest of this season .

Mike26
Mike26

@JoeMonastro Joe:  Houston's D is the worst in the NFL in the red zone.  It's secondary's incompetency trails only its ability to rush the QB with anyone other than JJ Watt.  Starting CB Kareem Jackson didn't play, and his backup gave up the first two TD's by staying 5-7 yards off his WR while inside the 10.  Stop living in fantasyland!

wdbjr
wdbjr

@Mike26 @JoeMonastro 

I agree with Joe, they are still a number 1 rated pass defense, every team in the league is dealing with injuries; next man up.  

No fantasy land, don't diminish what the young man accomplished.    I know thing went well for him, but they were also about 3-4 drop passes.  


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