ALAMEDA — The term ‘quarterback controversy’ can be counter-intuitive, since there’s usually little that’s controversial when a starting quarterback earns a benching.
But for rookie Derek Carr, veteran Matt Schaub and the Oakland Raiders, the term is growing wings despite assurances to the contrary.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has stood firm when stating that Matt Schaub will be the Week 1 quarterback when his team plays the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.
Allen has been consistent since Schaub was traded to Oakland in late March, yet to waver from that stance.
But since the third week of the preseason, Schaub has come down with a case of elbow soreness. It’s an ailment that Schaub, in 33 years of living, says he’s never dealt with before. Ever.
How many quarterbacks have ever felt elbow soreness? That’s impossible to determine. One name, though, is still burned into the minds of Raider Nation.
Matt Flynn — who the team traded a second-round pick to acquire in 2013 — dealt with a similar situation during the latter days of last year’s preseason.
Flynn failed to lead and had issues holding onto the football. The Raiders cut him early into the 2013 campaign.
Statistical reasoning also backs up any possibility that Carr could take over — at some point — for Schaub.
In three preseason games, Schaub is 24-for-47 with 218 yards — a 4.6 yard average — one interception, no touchdowns and a 55.1 passer rating.
To be fair, the interception wasn’t really Schaub’s fault, with the ball bounding off the hands of receiver James Jones and into the body of Lions defender James Ihedigbo.
And during Thursday’s game at Green Bay, Schaub could have had two touchdown passes, but the balls were not caught.
Yes, it’s only preseason, a time used by teams to install plays and evaluate personnel. Vanilla play-calling means few downfield heaves and hardly any special blitz packages.
Teams don’t want to reveal their hand in games that, for the most part, don’t matter. Still, fans of Raider Nation are wondering.
Schaub, when pressed between the similarity of himself and Flynn, claimed to be unaware — even before one reporter finished asking the question:
“I don’t know what happened last year. I don’t know what happened with anyone that was here last year. I just know myself, and what we’re going through right now, and to be ready for Week 1.”
Schaub sounded aggravated, not surprisingly, since he was benched for a youngster after five consecutive games with a pass returned for a touchdown during the 2013 season.
And Allen’s take? Short and sweet:
“Yeah, I don’t look at those two situations as the same.”
Allen seemed perturbed too, after having to answer the question in the same manner, over and over, week after week. When asked if Schaub is still his starting quarterback, Allen quickly said yes:
“I’m not concerned about (Schaub). We’re going to take him day-by-day and make sure he’s ready to go. … We want to see Derek play. We want to give him an opportunity. Missing the Green Bay game was, you know, that’s part of their developmental process.”
Allen noted that, if Schaub is fully healthy and ready to go, he should see playing time.
Carr, though, when asked if he’ll be ready to start in Oakland’s Week 1 tilt at New York, responded:
“I have to be. You have to be, and again, I do everything selflessly. I do it for my teammates. I come out here and I work as hard as I can. So, I know that when my number, if it has to be called, will be ready.”
Carr recalled being told by a teammate that four or five different players have occupied the locker next to his, and that every day in the NFL has been a huge opportunity for him.
He says that he began watching tape on Seattle for “a little bit” in preparation for Thursday’s final preseason matchup.
The undisputed weakness of the Oakland Raiders over the past 10 seasons has been the absence of a franchise quarterback. A veteran, a youngster. Whatever pundits want it to be, there hasn’t been a ‘Mr. Reliable.’
The Raiders still say they want it to be Schaub.
Training Camp Notes
The team will announce the first full round of cuts Tuesday afternoon, and have already cut seven players. The Raiders defense will face their former starting quarterback, barring Pryor being cut by Seattle Tuesday, for the final preseason game, and will surely make for it’s own set of controversial jargon.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was spotted at Levi’s Stadium Sunday, when the 49ers played their third preseason game against AFC West rival San Diego Chargers. The sighting made a few wonder if McKenzie was scoping potential 49ers or Chargers cuts.
Allen spoke Monday about second year cornerback D.J. Hayden and when the team will make the final decision to either keep him on the active roster or slot him on the physically unable to perform list.
Allen says the decision will wait until the last minute Saturday afternoon, so the team has as much time allowed to evaluate Hayden’s injury.