In just his first NFL start, undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin has given the Raiders coaching staff much to think about. Those thoughts right now are more visions of how high his ceiling might just be.
There are some who are of the belief that injuries should not cost a quarterback his job. There are others who say you have to go with the hot hand. Which camp you place your stake could be the difference in whether you think Terrelle Pryor deserves to get his job back once he is healthy or whether McGloin should keep the ball until he proves otherwise.
This kind of decision is made on a weekly basis across the NFL. Backups enter for injured starters all the time. If the starter was playing well before the injury, they will get their job back regardless of how the backup plays. If the backup outshines the starter, it's time to go with the hot hand.
The most notable recent example of a quarterback controversy happened in San Francisco two seasons ago. Alex Smith was playing well as the 49ers starter. He wasn't flashy and did enough to win the game without giving it away. The 49ers had a great defense so he could do that. But head coach Jim Harbaugh wanted more.
Colin Kaepernick was able to do what Smith could not. He was able to make the big plays and win games on his own. Alex Smith was playing well but what Kaepernick did for the offense was hard to deny. Kaepernick didn't let go of the starting job and along with the great defense, it meant a trip to the NFC Championship game followed by a trip to the Super Bowl.
The situation in Oakland is not all that controversial, really.
Now in his third NFL season, Terrelle Pryor earned the starting job this season for the Raiders over the woeful Matt Flynn. Pryor has started eight games this season, missing one game with a concussion. The first four, he looked decent and made great strides in his development, with decent numbers including 4 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. The last four he has been downright terrible with just one passing touchdown to eight interceptions.
Matt McGloin came in Sunday for his first ever NFL start and matched Pryor's touchdown pass total over the last four games on his first pass. He then threw for two more touchdowns in this game while not throwing a single interception. He finished with a passer rating of 105.9. Compare this to Pryor's season passer rating of 69.0 and his passer rating of 42 over the past four games.
Despite everyone thinking the non-mobile McGloin would get destroyed behind the Raiders offensive line, he was sacked just twice -- both by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt -- while Pryor had averaged being sacked an average of 3.3 times per game this season including 4.5 times over the past four games.
If you add Pryor's two touchdown runs in the past four games, that gives him three touchdowns in the past four games - the total McGloin had in this one game.
Even if some of the Raiders' better offensive games, things got started well and fizzled late. Their win over the Jaguars, they scored a rushing touchdown in the first two minutes and couldn't get in the endzone again the rest of the game. The win over the Chargers - Pryor's best game this season - he scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes and didn't have another touchdown the rest of the game. Against the Steelers, the Raiders scored three times in the first half and then couldn't score a single point after that. This has given them the worst third quarter scoring differential in the NFL over the past two seasons.
What the Raiders offense did Sunday was score two touchdowns early and then add two more in the third quarter. Those 14 points are the most the Raiders have scored in the third quarter since 2010.
McGloin's three touchdown passes is the most by an undrafted rookie in 26 years. Bears rookie Eric Kramer in 1987 was the last to do it.
It's also worth noting, McGloin put up these numbers against the Houston Texans' number one ranked pass defense.
It may have been hard to fathom this upstart undrafted rookie coming in and playing well enough to hold onto the job, but that is what he did. He is the hot hand right now and it's not even close.
Dennis Allen has preached competition since training camp and for the most part has lived up to his word in that regard. Terrelle Pryor as the starter is living proof of that competition, as is McGloin beating out rookie round four pick, Tyler Wilson for a spot on the team.
While Allen is unlikely to name a starter until at least Wednesday, if not later in the week, there is at very least a controversy. The Raiders have two young, hard-working, highly competitive quarterbacks on the team and they are six more starts to be doled out this season as they look for one of them to emerge as a viable option for the future.
At this moment, McGloin must be considered the favorite in that race.