There is a lot of pressure being heaped on Matt McGloin right about now. How he handles that pressure could be the difference between the Raiders making a deep playoff run or making an early exit.
Most think McGloin feeds on pressure and doubters and washes it down with their tears. He’s known for playing with the proverbial chip on his shoulder due to his history of having to prove himself at every level back as far as high school.
But as only McGloin does, he shrugs off the idea that he somehow is fueled by doubters.
Play with chip on your shoulder?
“I’ve gotten that question a lot throughout my career; playing with a chip on your shoulder and things like that,” said McGloin. “I don’t necessarily think I play that way, I think I just, I really enjoy playing the game. I really enjoy competition, I enjoy being out there with the guys and playing the game and doing well and winning.”
It’s difficult to take McGloin at his word when he says he isn’t fueled by those who count him out considering his long reputation to the contrary. It becomes more difficult considering he said in the same interview that he doesn’t read a lot of articles and doesn’t let it bother him while also saying he uses Twitter for news and has basically all Raiders media blocked for having at one point said something sarcastic or negative about him or the Raiders.
That’s what makes McGloin who he is and it’s how he’s carved out a four-year career in the NFL, trusted as the next man up among the Raiders quarterbacks.
“There’s always pressure when you play this game,” McGloin said, downplaying the increased pressure of this week. “You talk about proving yourself week in and week out and things like that. You’re constantly trying to prove yourself. This is a performance based business. And if you’re not playing well and you’re not winning and you’re not doing well, then you’re not going to be a starter very long, especially at the quarterback position. So, that’s what we’re doing now. We understand what’s at stake come Sunday and we’re preparing for that.”
McGloin has a lot of experience with proving his worth and it has engendered a good deal of confidence that his performance is dictated by what he expects of himself, not what others expect of him. In that regard, he may be uniquely qualified to take over the an MVP candidate on a team heading into a crucial game that could decide a difference of a top seed or a wildcard.
“For him, what little bit I’ve said so far is ‘be yourself,’” said Jack Del Rio. “Be who you are, make your plays, let us all do our jobs around you. You don’t have to put the world on your shoulders. It’s not your responsibility. We ask everybody to do their jobs, understand what your role is and get that done for us. No different for him.”
“As teammates, as coaches we all do what’s best for the team. Doing your job and taking care of business is really how you can do the most for anybody. So, it’s pretty much business as usual. It’s just a little different flavor to it. But the thing you can control is your effort, your energy, your focus, and that’s what we ask each guy.”
While McGloin has been in all the same meetings as Carr, working with the same coaches, with the same offensive playbook, where he is behind is working with the first team receivers. There are timing and general chemistry issues to work out this week which will mean extra work outside of the normal practice time to get on the same page.
“I feel like mentally my approach has always been well, but just physically we need to get a little more reps here and there, get our timing down with one another,” McGloin said of needing extra time with his receivers. “But those guys are onboard. They’ve been great so far and reaching out to me and coming up to me and saying ‘Hey, we’re here, let’s get some extra reps’ things like that.”
An encouraging sign was McGloin’s final pass of the game against the Colts. He put the ball up high where Amari Cooper could get it for a 19-yard gain.
Not only was it a similar type of throw Carr has made to Cooper or Crabtree, but McGloin’s description of it sounded like Carr as well.
“Amari is first and foremost a very intelligent player. Secondly obviously his athletic ability just jumps off the charts,” said McGloin. “I haven’t had the opportunity to throw a lot of balls to him the last few years, practice or in games, but you just see on film, you see throughout the course of the week how he runs his routes certain ways, how he’s going to be in the right spot and in a situation like that, you want to win the game right there, you want to put yourself in the position to kneel three times and then win. And hey, Amari’s a playmaker and I believe I giving guys a chance to make plays for you when you need it.”
Wednesday was the first full practice since McGloin stepped up as the starting QB. They will have two more practices to get ready before heading to Denver for the all important season finale. They win that game, they win the AFC West. If they lose and the Chiefs win, the Chiefs win the West.
No pressure, kid.