When the Oakland Raiders made the decision to acquire Matt Schaub this offseason, they did it believing last season’s disastrous performance that led to his jersey being burned in effigy in Houston was only an aberration.
Nothing the Raiders have seen so far this offseason has dissuaded them from that belief. Coach Dennis Allen believes Schaub can solidify the revolving door at quarterback in Oakland and once again be the player who posted five straight seasons with a passer rating above 90.
“I think he’s been outstanding,” Allen said. “That’s what you’re looking for in a veteran quarterback. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of what we’re going to see out of Matt Schaub. Even though he is a veteran player, it’s still a different offense for him, it’s still something new. He’s still learning, but I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen out of him so far.”
The Raiders have gone through 17 starting quarterbacks the past 11 seasons as they have failed to post a winning record or make the playoffs in that span. They used three last season in Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin but only McGloin remains after Oakland went 4-12 for a second straight year.
While the Raiders are looking for a fresh face to take over the position, Schaub welcomes a fresh start after a rough 2013 in Houston when he set an NFL record by having an interception returned for a touchdown in four straight games, lost the starting job to Case Keenum and was harassed by frustrated fans who went as far as burning his jersey.
“It’s in the past,” he said. “I’ve moved on. That’s stuff that’s history. What we’re in control of is what we do moving forward and I’m into preparing for 2014. Anything that’s in the past is in the past. In this business, you have to have a short-term memory and move on from things or else it’s going to be downhill from there. We’re on to the next year.”
After spending seven seasons running Gary Kubiak’s offense in Houston, Schaub is learning a new system implemented by coordinator Greg Olson. Schaub likes that this offense gives the quarterback more freedom to make changes than he is used to and thinks it will suit his strengths.
Schaub said there is never enough time to fully learn an offense but he is pleased with the progress he has made this offseason adjusting with his new teammates.
“I’m pretty comfortable with all of it,” he said. “The subtle nuisances within each play, which can happen on the fly, I’m still working through those because this time of year you very rarely get each play with every single look. It’s all the mental reps you’re watching on film, so we’re still working through that. But I feel pretty comfortable with everything.”
Part of Schaub’s job this offseason as the leader of the offense has been bonding with his new teammates off the field. He has organized dinners, bowling outings and trips to baseball games in an effort for the offensive players to get to know each other better.
He also sent a text message welcoming quarterback Derek Carr to the team after he was drafted last month and is helping the rookie adjust to the NFL.
Carr has been impressive so far, taking second-team snaps away from McGloin, who started six games last season as an undrafted rookie.
“I’m not satisfied with being all right or just good,” Carr said. “I want to push myself to be the best I can at everything. I try not to ever let myself get comfortable.”
There have never been doubts about Carr’s physical tools. But he has impressed the coaches with his ability to understand the offense and make the necessary changes at the line of scrimmage and provides a viable option if Schaub struggles or gets hurt.
The coaches have thrown as much as they can at Carr to get him up to speed as quickly as possible.
“He’s a guy that has a great amount of confidence,” Olson said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player. He’s one of those guys you don’t feel the game is too big for him. There’s not any anxiety or nervousness when he enters the huddle.”
NOTES: WR James Jones missed practice with a sprained shoulder but is expected to be fully recovered for training camp. … The Raiders claimed T Emmett Cleary off waivers from Tampa Bay and waived WR David Gilreath.
Updated June 18, 2014