Should Matt Schaub or Derek Carr Start for the Raiders?
Two years ago, Matt Schaub was the starting quarterback on an upward trending team. He was a 4,000-yard passer with three 20-plus touchdown seasons under his belt. He had been named to the Pro Bowl twice – winning Pro Bowl MVP once – after backing up the electric Michael Vick for three years in Atlanta.
He was solid from an advanced metrics standpoint, too. From 2008 to 2012, his per drop back Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) score never dipped below 0.10. For reference, that five-year low is on par with 2013’s version of Tom Brady.
Matt Schaub used to be good. But the key phrase there, obviously, is “used to be."
In 2013, everything changed. Schaub went from a perennial under-the-radar quarterback to one who looked at the football as if it was a foreign object never seen before. Schaub was bad in 2013. Really bad. His per drop back Passing NEP – which, as noted, was really strong throughout his time in Houston – fell to Brandon Weeden levels. Matt Schaub hit a wall, and it forced him out of Houston.
He found a job over the offseason with the Raiders, and most believed he’d be their starter in Week 1. But rookie Derek Carr, who was selected towards the beginning of the second round in the 2014 NFL Draft, had something to say about that last night.
In the Raiders final preseason game, Carr went 11 for 13 for 143 yards and three touchdown passes. Against Seattle, too, for what that’s worth.
And now it’s been reported that there is indeed a quarterback competition, and Derek Carr is more than likely going to be the winner.
This isn’t necessarily putting stock only in one preseason game. So far in the preseason, Matt Schaub’s continued his worse-than-mediocre ways, completing just 51 percent of his passes without a touchdown toss on 47 attempts. You can certainly call it growing pains in a new offense, but he’s not giving the franchise much hope. Especially after the way he performed last year.
And our numbers seem to agree. The top statistical comparable for Schaub this season is none other than “what happened to my career?” himself, Mark Sanchez, and his 2012 campaign. In that season, Sanchez started 15 games and threw 13 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.
It doesn’t get any better, either. Eli Manning’s 2013 pops up next on the Matt Schaub comparable list. You know, the one last season where he threw seven more interceptions than what we’ve seen from Aaron Rodgers over the last three years combined.
The third comparable is Chad Henne's 2013. And yes, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Things aren’t looking up for Matt Schaub.
While Derek Carr has no NFL experience, potential is all we really need here. Schaub’s playing like and projected to play like a below replacement-level quarterback, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to throw him under center. This is especially true when you consider the fact that you can generally judge a quarterback and how he’s going to perform at the NFL level pretty early in his career. Why would the Raiders not want to see what Carr is made of?
What’s interesting as well is that the other Raiders quarterback, Matt McGloin, far outperformed Schaub last year. McGloin had a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.03, which was surprisingly high for a guy who didn’t get a lot of credit for performing respectably under pressure.
This is a good sign for Carr, as he’d be a rookie quarterback stepping into a middling Oakland Raiders offense this season, similar to what we saw from McGloin (albeit he didn’t start the entire year) last season.
Though the Raiders haven’t officially made their decision, it does seem reasonable for them to start Carr from the get-go. While they went out and snagged Schaub over the offseason, his outlook looks awful, and even an inexperienced (perhaps even overvalued) quarterback should be able to match his production.
Is there really a lot to lose?