The Oakland Raiders will start veteran quarterback Matt Schaub this season after trading a sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for the bounce-back candidate, and it looks like second-round rookie Derek Carr will only start if Schaub implodes like he did last year or suffers an injury. Carr is capable of starting as a rookie, but it’s far more ideal to have him learn behind Schaub for a season, especially since Carr needs to improve his footwork (will help against pass rush, prevent ball from sailing on him).
Schaub and some of his teammates (most namely fellow AFC South veteran offseason acquisition Maurice Jones-Drew) are confident in the former Texan’s ability to get his career back on track, and ESPN’s Louis Riddick reports that Schaub believes he could have a “rebirth” in the same vein as another AFC West QB in Philip Rivers. Last season, Rivers was easily one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL thanks to blocking that wasn’t beyond atrocious, the play of Danny Woodhead and rookie Keenan Allen, and an incredible improvement in coaching thanks to Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt.
I am a believer in Schaub’s ability to have a bounce-back season in 2014, because I find it a bit hard to believe that a former top-ten QB could decline that quickly. That said, I can’t see Schaub having a Rivers-like breakout, because Rivers broke out due to a significant upgrade in coaching and talent around him after dealing with absolute incompetence around him for a few seasons. Schaub had only one decline year, but he won’t have as much talent around him in Oakland and won’t have as significant of an upgrade in coaching. Moreover, he wasn’t as good before his decline as Rivers, especially when it comes to physical talent.
Even so, I think Schaub will be at least mediocre this upcoming season, and the Raiders can live with that. This team is still looking to retool, as Schaub is more of a short-term solution for Rivers. The Raiders will be a significantly better team next season, and Schaub should prove to be a nice upgrade over what they had last season at QB (which, of course, wasn’t much). He won’t play like Rivers did last year, but it’s fair to think that Schaub won’t be too horrible. Then again, the guy was an interception-machine last season, and I wonder how much of a leash the Raiders will give him if he struggles.