The Oakland Raiders have high hopes for Matt Schaub in 2014, yet for almost everyone else around the NFL there is no such optimism. In fact, there is a high degree of skepticism that the former Texans quarterback can rebound.
This week, NFL.com released its preseason ranking of the league’s starting quarterbacks and plopped Schaub near the bottom in the category of “Bridge Quaterbacks” – players who are just holding the spot until something better comes along. In Oakland's case, that would be second-round selection Derek Carr.
“The last 20 games of Schaub’s career inspire less confidence than any NFL starter over the same time period,” wrote Chris Wesseling.
Certainly, 2013 was a stinker for Schaub in Houston, where he once was one of the NFL’s most steady QBs.
In his first five games last season, Schaub was intercepted in every game and had nine total. He lost his starting job, had 14 interceptions vs. 10 TD throws and his quarterback rating plummeted to 73.0 after being 90 or better for six consecutive seasons.
Yet the Raiders traded for Schaub this offseason and have named him the starter, hoping he can recapture some of his magic at the age off 33.
Oakland head coach Dennis Allen, in fact, believes Schaub is the QB to guide the Raiders to a much higher level in 2014.
“It’s pretty obvious that we feel good about Matt Schaub as our starting quarterback,” Allen told the Bay Area News Group. “We have a quarterback now that’s on par with the quarterbacks in this division.”
Those would be Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith. Even die-hard Raiders optimists probably wouldn’t put Schaub in that category.
Now yet another group of NFL experts has chimed in with more skepticism. In an ESPN ranking of starting quarterbacks, Schaub was placed at No. 25 overall – far behind his AFC West peers. The evaluations were made by a group of 26 league insiders (eight GMs, two former GMs, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and an NFL executive), reported Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com.
The rankings put Schaub in the fourth and last tier of NFL starting QBs.
One defensive coordinator told Mike Sando, who wrote the ratings story, that Schaub’s 2013 season has to put a giant question mark over him. For now, the question mark seems much more believable than Allen’s optimism.
“That will be interesting confidence-wise coming off last year,” the defensive coordinator told ESPN of Schaub’s upcoming season. “(Schaub) is accurate, but I put him in that that three category (third tier) because the passes were underneath, boot type and then, here and three, they took shots.”
For now, at least, Schaub is going to have to demonstrate significant progress in exhibition games to temper all the skeptics who are expecting a repeat of 2013.