The odds were stacked against Matt McGloin.
The undrafted rookie quarterback from Penn State signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent this spring, but he knew he was buried on the depth chart. Just winning a roster spot would be difficult.
Matt Flynn, acquired from the Seahawks in a trade, was the presumed No. 1 quarterback. Tyler Wilson, the team’s fourth-round pick from Arkansas, looked terrific in rookie camp and was thought to have a chance to eventually win the starting job. And holdover Terrelle Pryor was still on hand, with plenty of talent but with little experience.
But McGloin made the roster as the No. 3 QB, and this week head coach Dennis Allen named McGloin the backup to starter Terrelle Pryor, demoting Flynn to No. 3 after a horrid game against the Redskins this past Sunday in which he was sacked seven times, lost a fumble and threw a pick-six interception.
Now, if Pryor were to go down in Sunday night’s game against the Chargers at O.co Coliseum, it will be McGloin, the former Nittany Lion, who will lead the Oakland offense.
In making the announcement that McGloin is now the team’s No. 2 QB, Allen said McGloin has “moxie” and a great knowledge of the game.
“He just understands how to play the game, and I don’t think it’s too big for him,” Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I think he’ll come in if he’s called upon to run the offense, and he’ll do a good job.”
In four exhibition games this summer, McGloin played relatively well, completing 20-of-35 throws for 279 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He showed enough to beat out Wilson, who is now on the team’s practice squad.
Flynn, meanwhile, has been pushed out of the picture, even though he’s making $6.5 million this season, the highest-paid QB on the team’s roster.
Said Allen: “It hasn’t worked out like we anticipated, and we’ve got to make decisions and we’ve got to move forward.”
McGloin told the Bay Area media this week that he’s used his underdog, undrafted status as motivation. He’s not big at 6-foot-1, doesn’t have a cannon arm or tremendously quick feet, but he just tries to play smart football.
“I try and improve each and every day, and I do use that (being passed over in the draft) as fuel sometimes,” he told reporters.
McGloin said it’s been helpful to watch the first four games of the season from the sideline to “learn the speed of the game.” He’s tried to stay positive and has been preparing as hard as he can every week to stay mentally focused.
“I’ll be ready if I am called upon,” he told his hometown newspaper, the Scranton (Pa.) Times-Tribune. “As the backup now, I know that I am one play away from being the guy.”
For now, Pryor is the guy, and he’s been cleared to start for the Raiders (1-3) against San Diego (2-2) after sitting out last week’s loss to Washington because of the lingering effects of a concussion suffered the week before.