Matt Schaub was terrible last season and hasn't been very good so far this preseason—that's relatively impossible to deny by all objective measurements, though the Raiders' coaching staff to this point has mostly denied that Schaub's hold on the starting QB job is at all in jeopardy.
Schaub missed practice Sunday and Monday after telling Dennis Allen that his elbow was sore. Maybe that explains some of the very, very weak throws Schaub has uncorked in the first three exhibition games, although Allen has repeatedly maintained that Schaub's arm strength has looked just fine to him.
We'll see what happens the rest of the week, whether Schaub gets back into practice before Thursday's preseason finale or if it's Derek Carr with the first team into and through that game (and we'll see how Carr's health holds up, too).
Obviously, this has very strong echoes of the Matt Flynn debacle last year, almost exactly with the same timing. Again: We'll see what happens.
But if this Raiders regime goes through a second consecutive summer prepping and paying a veteran QB only to have that guy fall flat BEFORE THE FIRST REGULAR SEASON GAME... and blame it on elbow soreness...
That is not a sign that the regime knows what it's doing with the most important position in football.
—Let's flash back just a bit:
I actually began to write this item a few weeks ago, tying it to the beginning of Flynn's downward spiral last year, then realized it didn't start until Week 3 of the preseason, so I waited a few days to see what would happen with Schaub.
I had already written this sentence:
The Raiders' season-long QB shakiness started in the third week of preseason—that was when Flynn played horribly against Chicago and after that Flynn's reported elbow soreness all but handed the regular-season starting job to Terrelle Pryor.
Hmm. That is very interesting timing. Coincidental, I'm sure.
The headline I had written for this item might already be out of date: "Schaub just needs to hold on—for his sake and for Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie, too."
* It will now be tricky for Allen to use the elbow as an excuse for Schaub's weaker throws because to this point Allen has said there have been no such terribly weak throws.
I'm not saying Allen will do that, but if he does, it won't be the most consistent logic ever used by an NFL coach, I'll put it that way.
Flynn is a back-up with the Packers and has been using the sore arm as an excuse for over a year now, by the way, including what he told the national announcers before Friday's Raiders-Green Bay game. Flynn also used it as an excuse for getting beat out by Russell Wilson in Seattle two years ago.
Who knows what's going on with Schaub, but "sore arm" in late summer is sometimes just a veteran's way of saying: I know I have an excuse to be this lousy, just give me time to come up with one.
And it's not a good thing for the same management team to import two veteran QBs who suffer from the late-summer malaise.
* Clearly, Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie had a plan last off-season.
They wanted to go out and acquire a veteran QB they could believe in, they wanted to pump up that guy so everybody on the team felt better than they did after the Flynn-Pryor-McGloin merry-go-round last year, and they also wanted to draft the true QB of the Future.
So they picked up Schaub and have gushed about him from Day 1.
—It's like Harbaugh with Alex Smith in 2011—the coaches' season construct is to build up and around a shattered veteran QB. For now.
—The Raiders have to pump Schaub up and keep pumping him up or else they'll never get anything out of him. Except if he never gives them what they're hoping for, then it all looks kind of dumb.
Then McKenzie drafted Carr, who is absolutely the Raiders' future, but they can't push Carr right away (even if he looks better than Schaub) without looking a little silly for going so ga-ga about Schaub.
They still might have to go to Carr (or to McGloin temporarily), but Allen and McKenzie would have to swallow some pride doing it, since so much energy (and money) have been spent to prop up Schaub after he was so awful in Houston last year.
Of course, they had a plan last year, too: Move on from Carson Palmer and go with the steady Flynn... with Pryor only as a secondary thought and maybe McGloin or Tyler Wilson down the road. Then Flynn flopped and it was right to Pryor in Week 1.
The Raiders had a plan, they ditched it and operated on the fly for the entirety of the 2013 season, and things didn't turn out so well.
Back in December, as the 2013 season lurched towards it's inevitable 4-12 ending with questions about Pryor and McGloin and beyond, I wondered if McKenzie and Allen were really the guys you wanted picking the next Raiders QB.
(Remember, McKenzie also wasted a fourth-round pick on Wilson last year.)
* Carr is a better option now than Pryor was last year, but it just isn't a good sign for a management team to miss on the QB in two straight years.
It's not just the money, though the Raiders are into Flynn and Schaub about $10.6M this year. (Flynn counts as $2.6M in dead money this season. Schaub has a guaranteed $4.5M salary and he has already collected a $3.5M signing bonus.)
The QB is the most important part of setting up your entire roster for an entire season. You need to get that spot right. Maybe the Raiders will get it right with Schaub-Carr-McGloin this season.
So far, it looks like they're scrambling. Again.
Schaub misses second practice with sore elbow but expects to play in opener. PAGE 2