For Matt Schaub, It’s Already Third-and-Long

The Raiders’ new QB is doing and saying the right things, but the preseason opener left plenty of questions as to whether he’s “over” the baffling problems that ruined him in Houston

By
Robert Klemko
· More from Robert·
Schaub says he’s confident he’s turned the page; if he hasn’t, the Raiders have 2014 second-rounder Derek Carr (4) looming behind him. (Jim Mone/AP)
Schaub says he’s confident he’s turned the page; if he hasn’t, the Raiders have 2014 second-rounder Derek Carr (4) looming behind him. (Jim Mone/AP)

NAPA, CALIF. – The phone calls came with the fall. Around midseason in 2013, when then-Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was tossing interceptions more frequently than touchdowns, his phone buzzed with unfamiliar numbers. Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner left a message, Jeff Garcia offered advice, then Trent Dilfer, and then Steve Young. Those close to Schaub and connected around the NFL were giving out his number to former quarterbacks who had once or twice been through the ringer, which is a long-winded way of saying former quarterbacks.

Says Young: “I told him, ‘Matt, you only have one thing to focus on—playing great football. That’s it. Forget everything else.’ ”

A season later Schaub is a starter in Oakland, traded to the Raiders for a sixth-round pick by a franchise with whom he spent seven seasons, led the league in passing yards in 2009 and made two Pro Bowls. The low point last year came with a three-interception performance in a blowout loss at San Francisco in Week 5. Houston fans booed Schaub off the field a week later against St. Louis, and he was benched for three games in favor of untested Case Keenum.

READ: Andy Benoit’s Deep Dive analysis of the Raiders—expect improvement, but not much

During Schaub’s tailspin, Young advised him to narrow his focus: “Forget all the woe-is-me stuff,” Young says. “Forget thinking, ‘I wish, I wish, I wish they’d support me better, or whatever.’ Just play. Figure out how to play great football. Don’t blame anyone. In the end, it doesn’t matter.’ It was really a little bit of tough love.”

But there would be no quick fix. When Schaub did return to action—he was subbed in for an ineffective Keenum in Weeks 10 and 13, and started the final two games after Keenum injured his thumb—his teammates say he was a shell of himself. “I really don’t know what happened to him,” said a former offensive teammate of Schaub’s in Houston. “But once it went downhill, his confidence was shot, and I think that’s what really killed him.”

Can a quarterback go ice cold like a struggling shooting guard or a shaken baseball pitcher? And if so, how does he get over it?

Neither Schaub nor anyone else could explain his drastic drop in form last year, when he became the first QB to throw pick-sixes in four straight games. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Neither Schaub nor anyone else could explain his drastic drop in form last year, when he became the first QB to throw pick-sixes in four straight games. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It wasn’t until March 23 that the Texans were able to find a trade suitor for the 33-year-old Schaub, who came to Oakland as the assumed opening day starter before the team drafted Derek Carr. No doubt, QB-needy NFL teams around the league asked themselves the same question Schaub’s been asked early in Raiders camp: Is he actually over it?

“I moved on,” he said. “If you want to be successful in this business, you’ve got to have a short memory, good or bad. Sometimes you get too much praise. So much goes into being successful as a team and an individual that sometimes it doesn’t go your way, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way over and over again. You just keep playing and working through it.”

Oakland fans desperate for evidence that Schaub has worked through it could not have been encouraged by last Friday night’s preseason opener, in which he went 3-of-7 for 21 yards, leading the Raiders to just one first down in three series, in a 10-6 loss to Minnesota. Yet the team publicly insists Schaub has turned the page on last season. In practice he has shown a better command of the offense than Carr (though perhaps not than second-year QB Matt McGloin, who started the final six games for Oakland last year). Where Schaub seems to be struggling most is in his deep accuracy.

After Schaub’s speech to the Raiders, offensive assistant Al Saunders came away thinking, ‘Now we know who’s in charge.’

He is, however, acting like a No. 1 quarterback. During the first week of camp he unexpectedly demanded an audience in a team meeting and speechified. The message, says tight end Mychal Rivera, was about changing the culture on a team that hasn’t finished above .500 since the Super Bowl season of 2002. “He said, it’s time,” Rivera says. “It’s time to stop talking about it and start being about it. It’s time to take action. He’s the real deal. He’s about winning, and that’s what we’re all about.”

Raiders senior offensive assistant Al Saunders was in the room and came away thinking, Now we know who’s in charge.

Saunders and other holdovers from Greg Knapp’s one-year stint as Oakland’s offensive coordinator in 2012 were the ones who lobbied for Schaub in Oakland in the first place. Knapp had come from Houston, and when he brought that offense to Oakland, coaches prepped for the install by watching almost exclusively Matt Schaub operating the scheme for the Texans. “So those of us who were on this staff when Greg was here saw the capabilities he had and how he directed an offense,” Saunders says. “In our view, we felt he was the best QB available who would fit what we were trying to do on offense.”

Schaub has acted like the No. 1 in camp, imploring his teammates to help change the culture in Oakland. (Jane Tyska/Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Schaub has acted like the No. 1 in camp, imploring his teammates to help change the culture in Oakland. (Jane Tyska/Zuma Press/Icon SMI)

That is, if Schaub is emotionally capable of running another NFL offense. He’s shown a great deal of investment, gathering wide receivers and running backs at Laney College during the offseason for players-only passing sessions, and doing the same at Dublin (Calif.) High the week before camp began. It showed the kind of commitment and confidence from a quarterback that’s been uncommon of late in Oakland, where the list of starting QBs since 2002 has reached Cleveland Browns proportions (Rick Mirer, Marques Tuiasosopo, Kerry Collins, Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Jason Campbell. Carson Palmer, Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin, Matt Flynn). Schaub says he did not seek the help of a sports psychologist at any point—he just declined to harp on the failures and the boos.

READ: The MMQB’s Robert Klemko reports from Raiders camp on attempts to blend old and new 

“Fans have a right to boo when you’re not getting the job done. There’s a lot we can control in the business, but a lot that we can’t. That mental toughness and thick skin—it’s a response you develop over time,” he says. “This has been a great transition for me, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Those who reached out with advice a year ago continue to watch closely. A single preseason performance is nothing to harp about or hang your hat on, but, boy, wouldn’t it have been sweet if Schaub had lit up the Vikings? 

It’s just never that easy, according to those who know. “I think it was to a point where ghosts were haunting him,” Young says. “And at that point, there’s nothing to do but work as hard as you can to beat down those ghosts.”

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55 comments
jeff98
jeff98

Going to Oakland can't be a strong prescription for reinvigorating his career.  That franchise is going nowhere....fast.

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

I hope he can (and does) do it. Seems like a classy guy

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

When the best player on your team for the past decade has been your kicker, you're a bad, bad organization.

FreddieFunStuff
FreddieFunStuff

5-11 is about the best I can imagine this team doing. There are holes everywhere, hardly any depth, and no sense of a winning culture. It's not Dennis Allen's fault either. He didn't choose this roster. The mess in Oakland continues... But hey, you got a bunch of 2009 pro bowlers! Yay!

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

Matt Schaub has finished in the top 9 in the NFL in QB rating FIVE times.  His career QB rating of 89.8 is the 9th highest of any active QB.  His TDs to INTs from 2009-2012 was 90 to 45.  His career completion PCT is 64.0%.   I would have certainly taken a chance on him, if I ran a QB-needy team. 

John4
John4

Let's be realistic here.  The 2014 Raiders will struggle to score points, and will struggle keeping other teams from scoring.  It's virtually impossible that they win 6 games.  Winning 3-4 is FAR more likely.  Now for Schaub ... he likely will start 8-12 games for the Raiders in 2014, winning 2-4, maybe.  IF he is on the team in 2015, the same fate (and "success") will ensue.  I bet that Schaub wins 10 games or FEWER in his ENTIRE Raiders career.  Why wouldn't that be the case?

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

Not a past I'd feel need to "escape." I count Matt's good / poor seasons 3-3-1, terrific comp-% (64) and impressive TD-ratio (130-84). Wheels came off Texans figurative team bus last year and Schaub took the ticket. Compared to live-wire Phil Rivers, Matt's current ebbs low, but then plenty of other fine QBs like Montana, Aikman, Griese, Flacco, Plunkett, chose their words carefully, too.


Not sure this is the team, yet, but time for the silver & black to be cool again.

BartCockle
BartCockle

I saw him play for several years at UVA, he is a great quarterback and very underrated. Look for him to lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl, this is a clean slate for him and he has the ability. Last season was an anomaly. I can't wait for the good year that the Raiders are going to have.

rskins09
rskins09

Saw Matt  Schaub play  seven, eight game when he was playing for UVA ..He was above average QB in college  but nothing great ....He was drafted  too high in the NFL draft  as too many college QB are ..He had a few good, average years with Houston  but was a average QB on an good but not great team ..The last few years with Houston he lost all his confidence  from his interceptions and  sacks ...Don't wish him any bad luck but you can stick a fork in  now ..Still  can't believe the Raiders signed him ...

humdrumdrumhumming
humdrumdrumhumming

 the Raiders will be a lot better, but their record might not be.. toughest schedule in football, by a long way... 


where are the winnable games?


at Jets, Houston, at New England, Miami, BYE, San Diego, Arizona, at Cleveland, at Seattle, Denver, at San Diego, Kansas City, at St. Louis, San Franscisco, at Kansas City, Buffalo, at Denver

by my count the Raiders should be favored in only one game based on perception at the start of the season -- Buffalo at home.. with at Cleveland and Miami at home as pick 'ems...  that's just crazy!

Let's just hope Khalil 'born to' Mack is the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, and we see the good Matt Schaub arriving in Oakland..

as a lifelong Raider fan it pains me to say it, but we have no chance of breaking our .500 or less streak..

prove me wrong fellas!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=AME0x2PG8i4

Jackie_Treehorn
Jackie_Treehorn

Three series.  That's all he played.  People are giving up after three series?  Yes, they looked like hell.  Yes they seemed out of sync.  It was the 1st game of the PREseason and people are acting like this.  Wow.  

bowlerjr2011
bowlerjr2011

RAIDERS....2014......THIS YEAR WILL BE A TOUGH YEAR....  THE SCHEDULE IS BRUTAL & THIS WILL TEST THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAIDERS......  THE NEW VETERANS & YOUNG STUDS WILL MAKE THE RAIDERS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.... THIS WILL HELP OUR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT & WILL MAKE-US A GREAT TEAM FOR THE FUTURE & BEYOND....  THE START IS NOW.....   &.........HOW WE PROGRESS THIS YEAR WILL SHOW GREAT THE RAIDERS CAN BE.....  THE NEW VETERAN LEADERSHIP WILL PROPEL & MOTIVATE THE YOUNG STUDS TO BE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH FOR YEARS TO COME!!!!!   I'M READY FOR A GREAT YEAR & IN AL'S WORDS..............JUST WIN BABY    !!!!!!!

EL-NEWTON
EL-NEWTON

The offensive line has got to do a good job. .. it all starts there. .. our receivers have got to play big and fast. .. the running game needs to be respected. .. and our defense had got to get teams off the field on third downs. .. these are the accomplishments of teams with QB's that are successful. .. Matt Is gonna need support... this is not a one pony show. .. IT'S TIME !!!! like Matt said. ..

Brian Jepperson
Brian Jepperson

I'm really disappointed in Shaub based on the first game.  The question regarding him is simple:  In 2014 will he play like the 2013 or the 2012 model of Shaub?  So far the answer is:  Neither, he's actually worse than he played in 2013.  Maybe he'll get into form by the start of the season.  I dunno.  But if he plays this poorly the Raiders may not win a game this season.  Carr is certainly not close to being ready.

fanquest
fanquest

AND...if he can't or has some challenges, McGloin has a 'tremendous UP SIDE' that I think we will see more of, as the Pre-Season progresses. I really think that the RAIDERS have arrived, and YES, I also agree with JasonGere, Schaub'll be fine!!!! Carr is a huge talent, open to learning, and retaining, making subtle changes from his collegiate ways over to the professiona, so the RAIDERS really DO have a great mix of QBs. like almost never before in their history, or at least 'back to the Lamonica, Blanda, Stabler era when ALL 3 of those guys were in camp and with each other during and throughout each season for about 3 - 4 years.

They ARE preparing...so when the team huddles, before hitting the field, that's when it begins....


AndrewJHamm
AndrewJHamm

@SteveRowFla True that. And I'm a Washington fan, so if anyone knows a bad organization, it's me.

john134
john134

@FreddieFunStuff You obviously do not follow the Raiders. The team has depth this year, more than it has in several years, as stated by several off season signings, strong draft and confirmed by reporters. Secondly, if your team signed Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley, MJD and Antonio Smith, I am betting you would be pretty happy. Are we going to the SB, heck, probably not, but we should be a 7-9/8-8 team this year. The defense will  be pretty good, offense, about average, lots better than last year.

John4
John4

@DanaBunner 6 years ago.  On a good team.  You're conveniently forgetting a few things here.  

The Raiders (and Matt Schaub) will be terrible in 2014.  Please consider coming back to reality.

JonathanMiller
JonathanMiller

@John4 - You are an optimist.  Unless Carr and McGloin spontaneously combust Schaub will never play in a regular season game. 

Destroyer13761
Destroyer13761

@John4 Please, elucidate upon your musings. Tell me how you came up wit your "stats"? Are you a KC fan?

DoubleBox
DoubleBox

@KeysSteven  Matt threw pick-6's in a record setting three games in a row to flush the season down the toilet early. He helped knock the wheels off the bus and paid for his ticket.

John4
John4

@BartCockle If Schaub leads the Raiders to the Super Bowl I will cut off my hands and eat them.  If you truly think the Raiders will have a "good year" then you have already bet (lots of your hard earned money) on the "over", right?  The Raiders will stink in 2014, I get to keep my hands, and those betting the "over" will rue the day they made that foolish bet.  Raiders 4-12, 5-11 in 2014.  They are terrible.

AllThingsConsidered
AllThingsConsidered

@BartCockle I completely agree - though Raiders to the SB is a very bold prediction. He demonstrated his talent over years, and that doesn't magically go away. The problem last year being lost confidence, all he needs is a good situation to be in and a good game so he can finally put all this behind.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@rskins09 I'm NOT a Schaub fan.  Am a Bears fan.  But, Schaub has been in the league 10 seasons now and one may NOT accidently rise up to his level for career stats.


One may not have one good game or even one good year and RISE to the level Schaub is all time.


EVEN with his poor season last year, here is where Schaub stands all time.


Schaub is 13th ALL TIME in QB rating


Schaub is 9th ALL TIME for highest completion %


Schaub is tied for 15th best INT percentage (throwing fewest INT's per total pass attempts).


Oh, Schaub, after his bad year last season, is tied with Mr. Joe Montana and Peyton Manning for career INT % at 2.6%


A QB has to be doing something on the field to rise up to these levels.  The defenses don't lie down for him.


He didn't get there with just one good game or one good season either.


Now, he is NOT the greatest QB either, don't get me wrong.  But he is a lot better than folks think.  Even if he doesn't pull out of his nose dive, he still put up stats to get him to this level.

SHOGUN
SHOGUN

@humdrumdrumhumming agree with comments, but, what would be an "easy" schedule? There's virtually no such thing anymore...what teams could replace some of these and be looked upon as gimme's? 

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

@Brian Jepperson If you're referring to his Raiders' time, Matt hasn't played a "game" yet. These (pre-season) are exhibitions, auditions & work-outs.

rskins09
rskins09

@Brian Jepperson ... Sorry to say but Schaub is done ....Stick a fork into him  ..He'll be out of the NFL within a year .....He was over rated coming out of  UVA ....Saw him play seven, ten games when he was playing for  UVA  years ago .....

kenbiffi
kenbiffi

@Brian Jepperson You saw 7 throws and you're thinking that he's worse than he was.  Come on, dude. Use your head.  

AnthonyRich
AnthonyRich

Im a member of team Mcgloin. Watched every game last year. He showed great moxy and poise behind a makeshift O-line with inconsistant recievers. The time he started was about the same time their Deffense fell apart as well. The fact he did this as an undrafted free agent shows his learning curb is high. I see a lot of Kurt Warner in him; same size, same draft status.

John4
John4

@fanquest The Raiders QB trio of McGloin, Schaub and Carr is among the best (groups of QBs) in the history of the Raiders?  Did you REALLY mean to type that?  Really?  Raiders fans - you would be taken more seriously if you avoided your mind numbing foolishness.  

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

@John4 @DanaBunner Say what?  He finished from 6th to 9th in the NFL in QB rating every year from 2008-2012.  That's NOT 6 years ago.  He is only 1 season removed from a top 9 finish.

DoubleBox
DoubleBox

@Destroyer13761 @John4  Check out Schaub's game log for his career. His numbers are atrocious when not playing bottom feeders. He has performed terribly against elite teams and poorly against good ones. His wins and numbers were accumulated against bottom feeders. It's true. Go check the "stats."

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@Destroyer13761 @John4  destroyer.  here is one way...  for the past 10 seasons (2004 to 2013), the Raiders have the FEWEST wins in the NFL.


That was hard to do during that time because the Detroit Lions were doing ALL they could to be the worst team.


The Lions went 0 & 16 in 2008, 2 & 14 in 2009 and were 3 & 13 in 2006...


YET, the Raiders still lost more games than the Lions did from 2004 to 2013.


Oh, the Raiders have been last in attendance in the NFL in 4 of the last 5 seasons too.


Fewest wins and fewest fans in the stands.


I have no problem envisioning them with around 4 wins this yr, none whatsoever.

JonathanMiller
JonathanMiller

@DoubleBox @KeysSteven  - correction he threw pick 6s in FOUR consecutive games.  And yes a pick 6 can lose the game.  The Texans lost over half their games by 7 points or less. 

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

@DoubleBox @KeysSteven Matt had one of his "poor" seasons in '13 ("helped"), no doubt, but a "pick-6" shouldn't lose a game, let alone "flush" an entire "season" or career. That they ("pick(s)") helped hammer nails speaks to a broader issue on team spirit & strategy, beyond simply quarterback, on both sides of the ball and sideline. Plenty of violators on Texans '13 who were "ticket" worthy but surprisingly avoided your enforcement. That's the big picture.

AndrewJHamm
AndrewJHamm

@John4 @BartCockle How do you plan to eat your hands if you have cut them off? Also, once you've cut one hand off, how will you cut off the other? Holding the knife in your mouth? I'm not sure you've thought this plan through. You will need an assistant of some sort. Or you could have someone make the hands into a soup which you could drink with a straw.

humdrumdrumhumming
humdrumdrumhumming

@SHOGUN @humdrumdrumhumming


well for the (current) Raiders i wouldn't be so bold as to say any NFL team would be a 'gimme'...


but there are indeed 'easy schedules' and Strength of Schedule has a big effect on the NFL standings every season...


what does an 'easy schedule' look like?  allow me, just from last year..


last year, Denver's opponents had a .430 winning pct, the lowest in the league by a wide margin...  
Five of Denver's games last season came against teams that won four games or less ..  (that's 31 percent)  
but only one of Denver's 16 games last year came against a team that lost four or less games (that's 6.7 pct, and Denver lost that game).. 


Denver's record against teams who went .500 or less was 9-0...  but Denver's record against teams with winning records was just 4-3...


Denver played four games all season on the road against teams over .500, Denver lost three out those four games..

so as we look at how easy Denver's schedule was, it's easier to see how their regular season dominance didn't translate into the postseason... 

which also might be why Seattle was better prepared to face elite opposition.. (Seattle's opponents had a winning pct of .516)..

in 2012 the teams with the NFL's four easiest schedules had four of the best records in the NFL.. Denver, Indy, Atlanta and Cincinnati won 13, 11, 10 and 13 games.. both Denver and Atlanta won 13 games and earned the #1 seeds in their conferences, and both were upset prior to the Superbowl  - with Denver losing their first playoff game..

over the years, NFL teams' SOS has indeed proven to be quite relevant, and while not as dramatically different as college, their are huge differences in its affect not only on records, but postseason performance...
good teams can look like great teams against creampuff schedules and vice-versa..

so yes, there is such a thing as an easy schedule in the NFL... 

Destroyer13761
Destroyer13761

@rskins09 @Brian Jepperson You know what? That's what I think about Griffin. Knee is shot, he is done. Like David Wilson. Done. Don't stick a fork in Griffin, it might hurt him more!

John4
John4

@DanaBunner You're right.  Schaub is still a very good QB.  What was I thinking?

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

@John4 @DanaBunner I don't know if he is still a "very good" QB. But when a guy has just turned 33, and amongst active QBs, is 6th in Pass Pct, 6th in Yds per Pass Attempt, and 9th in QB rating, then it isn't like he's some washed up bum.  Of course, having Andre Johnson to throw to may have helped a bit  :)

John4
John4

@DanaBunner Your Schaub stats are impressive.  I stand corrected as I already stated above.  Schaub is still a very good QB.  Clearly I do not understand the NFL.  And also, Schaub's pass pct and yards per pass attempt are (by comparison) obviously very good.  Thank you for that information.  

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