The Oakland Raiders are trending in the right direction after a huge offseason, as they added several solid, veteran players after the market cooled, atoning for their failure to re-sign Jared Veldheer and making all of us who criticized the Raiders slow start to free agency look bad. Tarell Brown, Antonio Smith, Carlos Rogers, Justin Tuck, Donald Penn, Austin Howard, Maurice Jones-Drew, LaMarr Woodley, James Jones, and Matt Schaub were all brought on this past offseason to fill out a roster that was arguably the league’s worst last season, and it’s become a much deeper squad thanks to these additions. Throw in high-impact rookie Khalil Mack and a franchise QB of the future in Derek Carr, and you get a great draft class to combine with those solid newcomers.
But the most important area of improvement for the Raiders is at the quarterback position, because they have two QBs who should prove to be huge upgrades over what they rolled out last season. Terrelle Pryor did some nice things, but the Raiders decided that he wasn’t the answer. Matt Schaub is no long-term fix, but he should be a solid stopgap and is a prime bounce-back candidate after going from being a fringe top-ten QB to one of the worst in the league in just one season. Schaub threw interceptions all over the place last year, and some wondered if he had lost his confidence, especially since Houston Texans fans viciously turned on him.
While Carr is a talented QB, it’s best for the Raiders to let him learn off the bench this season. He had experience in a pro-style offense early in his career at Fresno State, but there’s a big jump in quality in the NFL from the MWC, and Carr will also need to work on his footwork and mechanics (passes sail on him, because he doesn’t use his lower-body enough on throws). Schaub is locked in as the team’s short-term starter, and it sounds like he has his confidence back.
New defensive tackle Antonio Smith, who played with Schaub in Houston for several seasons, said of the Raiders QB, via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur, “Schaubby’s getting his mojo back. He’s getting his confidence back. He’s starting to believe in himself again. He is starting to throw with confidence. You would be surprised just how much your mindset is important in this league.”
If this proves to be true, then that would be absolutely fantastic for the Raiders. The organization has full confidence in Schaub’s ability to be a solid, dependable quarterback again, and I’ve always viewed his struggles in 2013 as an anomaly. James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, and Denarius Moore form a solid quartet of wideouts, and that should be enough for Schaub to work with, especially if either MJD or Darren McFadden can experience a resurgence.