Written by intern Jeff Weisinger
Oakland, CA – The former hit television series “Friday Night Lights,” quarterback Matt Saracen is thrusted into duty after Dillon High’s All-American starting quarterback Jason Street is knocked out with an injury.
Saracen has a rough start, but eventually leads the team to a come-from-behind win in the final seconds, shocking everyone in the stadium.
Although this is make-believe television, there’s a similar feeling around Raider Nation after Saturday’s 33-25 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Oakland Raider’s franchise quarterback Derek Carr had successful surgery Tuesday and there is no timetable for his return. But can backup QB Matt McGloin get it done? Head coach Jack Del Rio says “Next man up!”.
“A lot has changed since my rookie year in 2013,” said McGloin. “I paid attention to how Derek has prepared for each game. I think my knowledge of the game has definitely improved.”
The energy in the stadium last Saturday went from an all-time high to an all-time low in the minutes after Carr’s injury. However, the Raiders know their fate lies with their final game of the season in Denver this Sunday.
Vying for a bye-week, this is a must win for Oakland. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot and the extra week off gives the Raiders time to make adjustments as well as a possible return from their star quarterback.
In the meantime, it’s McGloin’s time to shine. Back in 2013 he didn’t have a good offensive line nor any outstanding receivers. That’s all changed, in fact, McGloin is coming into the best situation of his career.
His career numbers don’t help his case. In seven appearances (six starts) in 2013, McGloin threw for 1,547 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. In his first career start, McGloin defeated the Houston Texans 28-23, going 18-for-32 for 197 yards and three touchdowns, recording a quarterback rating of 105.9.
“He’s a great quarterback,” second-year wideout Amari Cooper said. “I’m excited to see what he’s going to do. The biggest thing about him that sticks out is just, he’s a competitor. He wants to win. He prepares as if he wants to win. Those are the things I like about him.”
McGloin is more supported now on all three sides of the ball than he was on that 2013 squad and has learned a lot within the Raiders’ system while spending these last three seasons on the bench behind Carr.
He has good chemistry with the guys on the team, especially with wide receiver Andre Holmes and tight end Mychal Rivera, two of the few offensive skill position layovers from that 2013 squad. But new threats in Cooper and Michael Crabtree make McGloin’s job even better.
“We have a lot of trust in him [McGloin],” said Cooper. “Football is a team game and we’re all going to rally around him. We all have to do our job.”
McGloin earned the backup spot behind Carr and General Manager Reggie McKenzie rewarded him with a deal worth $2.55 million this season – placing him among the top-10 highest paid backups in the league.
The six-foot tall Scranton native was a walk-on to Penn State’s Nittany Lions team in 2009, took over the starting job in 2011 and finished his career by throwing the most touchdowns in Penn State history (46).
Now McGloin gets a chance to take the stage again but on a higher level. No stranger to either fate nor adversity, the backup quarterback understands what’s at stake. A win against the Broncos, bye-week and a trip to the playoffs.
“This is a performance based business,” McGloin said. “If your not doing well than your not going to be a starter very long. We understand what’s at stake Sunday and we’re preparing for it.”