HEISER: History tells us McGloin to exceed expectations
- Oakland QB Derek Carr broke his right fibula on Saturday and is likely done for the season.
- Former Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin is expected to take Carr's place.
- The Raiders are enjoying their best season in years at 12-3. They have clinched a playoff berth.
The Oakland Raiders' season is over.
You can stick a fork in them.
Yes, the team has one regular-season game left.
Yes, the team is guaranteed a playoff berth.
The Raiders' season, however, effectively ended Christmas Eve, when quarterback Derek Carr broke his right fibula in the fourth quarter of a 33-25 win over Indianapolis.
At least that's the general feeling among the experts who cover pro football for a living.
It doesn't seem to matter that the Raiders are enjoying their best season in years at 12-3.
It doesn't seem to matter that the team is in line to possbily win the AFC West and get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
All that matters is that Carr's MVP-caliber season is almost certainly finished — and so are Oakland's hopes of making any kind of postseason run.
At least that's the media consensus after Carr's devastating injury.
Former Penn Stater Matt McGloin is expected to take Carr's place, and there's precious little faith out there that he can do the job.
Here's a fairly typical example of what you can read about the Raiders' situation, from Lowell Cohn of the (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat.
“Who in the world is Matt McGloin? He is the backup. The perennial second banana. He plays if there’s a disaster — like now. He is the insurance policy. The sidekick. Never the leading man. Not in his life.
“Derek Carr can always make the precise pass on third down to save a drive. McGloin? Not so much. This is not to put him down. It’s to put him in perspective.
“McGloin is not special. He is just a guy. And just-a-guys are always replaceable, and they rarely become stars, except in fairy tales. Without Carr, the Raiders will have an average offense, not a dangerous offense, certainly not a quick-strike offense. They will be vulnerable in the playoffs. They won’t be the same team we came to know.”
The trouble is, you can't really argue with Cohn and others who expect McGloin to struggle.
That's because the former PSU walk-on certainly doesn't pass the eye test.
At just 6 feet, 1 inch (and that may be stretching it), the red-headed McGloin certainly doesn't look like your prototypical 6-4 NFL QB. His arm strength is suspect and his mobility and athleticism are below average by NFL standards.
His numbers over his Raiders career are pedestrian at best, completing 155 of 266 passes (58.3 percent) with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
McGloin is not "just a guy," however, when it comes to the intangibles. He's tenacious, tough and smart. That's how he's survived, and thrived, during his unlikely football journey.
He's been told nearly all his life that he's not good enough.
Coming out of West Scranton High, he wasn't good enough to earn a scholarship to Penn State, and still ended up being a three-year starter.
Coming out of Penn State, he wasn't good enough to get drafted in the NFL, but has still has somehow managed to carve out a four-year NFL career.
Now, no one believes he's good enough to lead Oakland on a playoff run.
Will he prove his doubters wrong again?
His teammates, for their part, are expressing faith in him.
“He makes plays,” Oakland wideout Andre Holmes told the Press-Democrat about McGloin. “You see him in preseason, he goes out there and makes plays. We have full confidence in him.”
Oakland running back DeAndre Washington told the Press-Democrat that McGloin is a “perfectionist. He hates making mistakes. … You would never tell me he was not the starter, the way he prepares each and every week.”
McGloin, for his part, feels prepared.
"I'm ready to go," McGloin told the Associated Press. "I know this team, these guys around me, this staff, this organization will do a great job of helping me out and embracing me. Just making sure we continue to move in the right direction."
McGloin, despite his detractors, has never lacked for confidence. In fact, he's sometimes more confident than he should be, given his limited physical gifts. That will sometimes cause him to make ill-advised throws.
But no matter how bad things get, don't expect him to lose faith in himself. He never has before.
Yes, it's foolhardy to expect McGloin to come in and perform like Derek Carr.
For those who have followed McGloin's gridiron odyssey closely, however, it would not be surprising to see him exceed most reasonable expectations.
That's because he's made a career out of doing just that.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dipsatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.