Raiders’ QB Backup Matt McGloin Is Thrust Into A Starting Role After Horrific Derek Carr Injury, But Is He Good Enough?

Raiders’ QB backup Matt McGloin will be forced onto the field this week — as well as for the team’s first playoff run in 13 years — following a terrible broken fibula injury sustained by starting QB Derek Carr.

McGloin, Oakland’s 23-year-old backup quarterback, was signed by the Raiders after going unclaimed during the 2013 N.F.L. entry draft. A former walk-on for Penn State, Matt has started just a handful of games during his college and professional career. The QB has, however, been with the Raiders for three years, and has served as an understudy to popular team leader and QB Carr.

More importantly, the Raiders’ QB has managed to secure spots with both the Raiders and the Penn State Nittany Lions, even earning time as a starter on the field. Many feel that this fact proves that McGloin is a survivor who may take that same winning mentality and attitude about the tremendous opportunity that he has been afforded. The Raiders’ QB backup is now “the man” for Oakland heading into the N.F.L. playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Raiders’ backup could find Carr’s shoes very tough to fill.

Derek Carr injury
Derek Carr injury [Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]

In 15 games this season — for which Carr was a strong contender for the league’s “Most Valuable Player” — Carr has taken his Oakland Raiders from the obscurity of 13 unsuccessful seasons, achieving 356 passes for 3,933 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions, en route to an overall team record of 12-3, a potential A.F.C. West division title, and a possible first-round playoff bye.

By comparison, Raiders’ QB backup Matt McGloin’s most successful season in the N.F.L. came his rookie year, when the QB played in seven games in relief of starter Terrelle Pryor. During that stretch, McGloin threw 118 completions for 1,547 yards, with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Raiders, that year, went 4-12 and came in last in their division.

Doubling the backup QB’s numbers for that season — which would give him 14 games for a better comparison to the 15 games that Derek Carr played in his exemplary 2016 campaign — would give Matt 236 completions for more than 3,000 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Clearly, Matt McGloin — although he was a rookie at the time and the team was not nearly as talented as this year’s version — as the new Raiders’ QB is no Derek Carr. A lot of people, however, feel that he will not necessarily have to be for Oakland to extend its magical run.

“[Losing QB Derek Carr] obviously is a blow,” said Oakland’s head coach Jack Del Rio, speaking with CBS Sports of the uphill battle that the Raiders’ QB backup McGloin will face in the playoffs as he struggles to get better acclimated with his teammates.

“That’s what teams do; teams have to find a way to pick up and move on,” continued Del Rio. “We’ll rally around the next guy as best we can. That’s what you do. It will be incumbent on the offensive line and the [running-]backs to do more. The defense to do more. The special teams to do more. As a team, pick it up and do more to fill in. Obviously, it’s a big setback.”

Jack Del Rio
Coach Jack Del Rio [Image by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]

Despite the Raiders QB backup’s limited experience, he will now be called upon to replace Oakland’s emotional leader and push the team through at least two (potentially three) high-pressure playoff match-ups if the Oakland Raiders have any hope of making their SuperBowl LI aspirations a reality.

Even if the new Raiders QB achieves this, there are some who question whether he might actually be forced to compete in the big championship game as well.

For his own part, Derek Carr remains hopeful that he can recover from a broken fibula and remain strong enough to play in the 2017 SuperBowl, which takes place February 5 in Houston, Texas. While most Oakland Raiders’ fans do not envision a Derek Carr recovery happening that optimistically fast, not one person could argue the need for QB McGloin to step up in a major way if the Raiders’ have any hope of winning a championship this year.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, for example, revealed today that Carr is “an extreme long shot” to return in time for a championship game in February.

Given the talent level on the Oakland Raiders, however, any N.F.L. expert would agree that the team’s performance moving forward absolutely hinges on strong — even if albeit imperfect — play by former Raiders’ QB backup McGloin.

In other words, Matt McGloin will never be asked to be as good as Derek Carr, but he will have to do his best Matt McGloin imitation of all time.

[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]