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Matt McGloin: In-depth analysis, breakdown of Raiders QB

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Some thoughts about new starter Matt McGloin from his 2013 rookie year and what portends for his near future.


Matt McGloin was never supposed to be here. It's the classic underdog tale that Raiders' fans everywhere have heard repeatedly, from being a walk-on at Penn State to being the 4th QB (camp arm) in 2013 only because the Raiders' first choice (Kyle Padron) could not participate because his school had not yet graduated. Then climbing the depth chart and outlasting noteworthy competitors like Matt Flynn, Tyler Wilson, Terrelle Pryor, and Matt Schaub.

# 14
Draft 2013, Undrafted
College Penn State University
Height 6'1"
Weight 210 lbs
Career Stats
W/L 1-5
Comp/Att 155/266 (58.3%)
Yards 1847
YPA 6.9
TD/Int 11/11

What I Like

  • In 2013, he did not look like a rookie. He looked far more confident, poised, and in control of the offense than 3rd year QB Terrelle Pryor.
  • Aggressive, downfield thrower.
  • Has similar mindset to Derek Carr. If he has 1-on-1 with no safety, he'll take a shot and give his receiver a chance
  • Very good at play-action. Aggressive and "shows the ball"
  • Quick, tight, compact delivery
  • Choppy feet
    • Not a "glider" or a "bouncer" like some QBs
    • Really pounds his feet as he shifts in the pocket
    • This sets his feet each time and helps to keep him prepared to throw
    • Can backup or shift laterally and make throws with strong base because of this
  • Pocket Presence
    • stands tall in the pocket
    • looks downfield
    • will throw in the face of pressure
    • steps up into the pocket to avoid the outside rush
    • works the pocket laterally very well

  • Roll and re-set
    • When he breaks pocket, will generally re-set his feet to make a throw
    • Quickly re-sets his feet
    • Step into his throws and makes strong, accurate throws
    • As opposed to throwing on the run
  • Timing, anticipation, accuracy and ball placement can be excellent
    • Particularly on slants, posts, and digs (middle of the field routes)

  • Can see and throw to all levels
    • Strong downfield throws
    • Very capable of throwing into the intermediate level over the linebackers and under the safeties.
    • makes nice deep fade throws
    • can make middle-of-the-field throws into relatively small windows
    • Can make outside the Numbers throws, including sideline
      • Can hit the Cover-2 outside hole
    • Can throw the Out route, but (probably) not the Deep Out.
  • Uses the Rich Gannon-style pump fake to good effect
  • Gives receivers chance to make big play.
    • With receivers that struggled to gain separation, McGloin was often throwing to tight coverage, small windows, or fully covered receivers. He made great throws that gave receivers opportunities to make the play but also away from defenders.
      • Back shoulder throws
      • Throws when defenders had backs turned
      • Well timed throws

  • Can read and throw against zone coverages
  • effective at setting up and throwing screen
  • Can scramble.
    • Somehow manages to find space even though he does not appear to have great speed or elusiveness. Made some very clutch scramble 1st downs.
    • Scrambles only as last resort
  • Timing and ball placement on slants in rookie year much better than Derek Carr was even last year
  • Was willing to checkdown to RBs and TEs when WRs were covered, particularly Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale, and Mychal Rivera. (notably in the Tennessee Titans game).
  • Mental makeup
    • Keeps his head in the game.
    • Recall in 2015, the game winning play was reportedly suggested by Matt McGloin. That's a guy who takes his role seriously and stays focused.
  • Unshakeable
    • In 2013, bad things happened all the time to Matt McGloin. He showed that trademark "Moxie" and resiliency that makes him a great fit with the current Raiders team.
    • Showed a Derek Carr-ish "comeback kid" in 2013 games v Houston and Tennessee. The defense could not close out the Tennesee game.
    • In the previous game v IND, made two big throws, including the game clinching throw to Amari Cooper
  • Matt McGloin doesn't have to deal with adversity; adversity has to deal with Matt McGloin
  • Reminiscent of Bruce Gradkowski, though less of a "crash test dummy"-type of guy. Also has a touch of Jeff Garcia to him.


  • At times, looked like a rookie.
  • Can lose track of defenders, particularly in the off-field which can lead to interceptions

  • Strong but not great arm. Gets most out of his arm due to mechanics, footwork
  • Will throw into double coverage
  • Can sometimes lock onto a single receiver
  • Will give defense opportunities for interceptions when he's giving his WRs a chance to make a play, ie., sometimes he trusts his receivers too much. In this case, he throws a jump ball to Jacoby Ford (5'8") v Brandon Carr (6'), with predictable results.

  • Unorthodox throws (Off balance, flat-footed, or falling-back throws) are very likely disasters
  • Playmaker can try too hard make plays and turns a Zero-play into a Negative or Catastrophic one
  • Short and relatively slight build. Worry about "one big hit"
  • Tends to fumble on hits (small hands?)
  • Can get his passes batted down. Listed at 6'1" so throwing short routes may be problematic. Fortunately, Denver's best pass batter Malik Jackson is now with Jacksonville.
  • Pocket Presence. Can lose track of pass rushers at times. Holds the ball too long waiting for plays to develop.
  • Blitz reads. Sometimes has trouble reading blitz and will hold the ball.
  • Can scramble at times, but does not have great burst. Will rarely outrun chasing pass rusher.
  • Some traits are reminiscent of Ryan Fitzpatrick (good and bad).

The 2013 Season

  • It is VERY difficult to project McGloin from 3+ years ago.
    • He was a developmental rookie who was 4th on the depth chart with very few reps.
    • Rookies in IDEAL cases develop tremendously from rookie to 4th year.
  • 2013 rookie year was a terrible team and McGloin was a "camp arm" who spent much of training camp getting only mental reps.
  • Once he took over, Matt McGloin elevated the passing from terrible to average and made the Raiders a downfield throwing team. This graphic during the Week 16 game :

  • During the season, even once McGloin was starting, Dennis Allen occassionally took him out at random to give Terrelle Pryor some playing time.
    • In the Jets game, Dennis Allen took out McGloin in the 1st quarter. He put McGloin back in on a 1st-and-10 from the 2.
    • v KC, After McGloin leads a TD drive to bring the team back to 35-24, in the middle of the next series, Allen puts Pryor in for a few plays and then puts McGloin back in for 3rd-and-7.
  • Coaching staff of Dennis Allen, Jason Tarver, Greg Olsen.
  • Often played from behind ("Garbage Time"), but not exclusively.
  • Sometimes those were his fault
  • Sometimes the rest of the team
    • eg., vs Tennessee. McGloin leads the team to a 4th quarter TD with 6:10 min remaining. The defense then surrenders a 5:55, 80 yard TD drive to lose the game. 23-19
    • eg., vs KC. McGloin leads the team to within 4 (35-31), then the defense gives up a 71 yard TD to Jamaal Charles. Then on the ensuing kickoff, the returner fumbles and the Chiefs score another TD to make it 42-31.
    • eg., v DAL, led the team to a 21-7 lead. Then down 28-21 in the 4th, McGloin drives down into the redzone and throws a jumpball to Jacoby Ford which is intercepted in the endzone.
  • Against KC, Matt McGloin was sacked 0 times. This is impressive because in the first game, the KC defense sacked Terrelle Pryor 10 times, which included the infamous 3rd-and-48.

  • The OL was a mess, lacking talent and also suffering injuries
    • Jared Veldheer
    • Andre Gurode
    • Stefen Wisniewski
    • Mike Brisiel
    • Khalif Barnes
    • Tony Pashos
    • Lucas Nix
  • WR Corps
    • Brice Butler
    • Jacoby Ford
    • Andre Holmes
    • Denarius Moore
    • Rod Streater
  • Wisniewski bad snaps
  • So many penalties by the OL
  • Drops drops and more drops. Unreliable receiving corps, very similar to what Derek Carr dealt with in 2014.
  • The defense was terrible. The Jason Tarver-led defense was lacking in almost every facet.

Going Forward

  • Matt has experience throwing to a dominant WR
    • In 2012, at Penn State :
    • Matt McGloin : 12G, 8-4, 260/446 (60%), 3271 yards, 7.3 YPA, 24 TDs, 9 int
    • Allen Robinson accounted for nearly HALF of that : 12G, 97 rec, 1432 yards, 6 TDs
    • The game clinching throw to Amari Cooper v IND was shades of throwing to Robinson and having him make a great play.
  • Impossible to predict how Matt McGloin will do in a specific game. So much depends on matchups and how the game plays out. But we can look for things to look for and set some levels of expectation.
  • Had John DeFilippo as QB coach for 2 years (2013-2014) and Todd Downing since
  • Rodney Hudson's leadership and knowledge is huge benefit
    • Rodney's ability to read defenses and call protections will take a great deal of pressure off Matt
    • But what about their chemistry and communication?
    • Rodney has been having a problem with low shotgun snaps this year
    • McGloin had dealt with bad snaps in 2013 from Stefen Wisniewski, but lost several to fumbles (2, maybe even 3 or 4) .
  • Offensive line is functioning as well as it has all year
    • If Kelechi Osemele is healthy enough to play and Menelik Watson stays healthy, this unit has all 5 starters full go.
    • Depth OL have been working in all year and getting lots of quality reps.
    • May open up chances for Matt because he likes to hold onto the ball longer than Derek Carr does.
    • We may see how much Derek Carr helps the offensive line if McGloin faces more pressure. McGloin holds onto the ball and looks deep and may challenge the OL to stay on their blocks longer than they are used to with Derek.
  • As a rookie in 2013, Matt McGloin did many things better than Derek Carr did last year
    • Timing and ball placement
    • Ball pace and delivery
    • Working the pocket laterally
    • Standing tall and stepping up in the pocket
  • Lots of deep drops, 5 and 7 steps and downfield reads. Not many 3 step and quick passing plays, perhaps owing to his short height and difficulty throwing to short field. How may this affect game plan?
  • Holds onto the ball as he looks for receivers to clear downfield. Waits to give the receivers chances to work, but this puts stress on the pass protection and can give defenses opportunities for more clever pressure packages.
  • Matt McGloin may takes more chances against covered receivers than Derek does. Often, even this year, Derek would check away from Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree when he reads that they are bracketed. For better or worse, McGloin has showed a willingness to throw into double or triple coverage.

  • Physically, Matt McGloin can make the throws to take the Raiders deep. He is not as naturally gifted as Derek Carr, but Matt has a lot of talent that is optimized by excellent preparation and mechanics.
  • WR Adjustment
    • Timing with the WRs will be a big question mark. If they can get the timing down, it could lead to some really big plays. Keep an eye out on the slants (both quick slant and intermediate slants).
    • Chemistry. Along with timing, reading the defense and adjusting routes and positioning will be key. Knowing when McGloin will throw to a covered receiver and when he will throw backshoulder.
    • Recall in 2015, the first game v DEN was determined by a missed hot read that led to a Chris Harris Pick 6. This is the danger of immature QB/WR chemistry v great defense.

    • Last year, Derek suffered timing issues all year with Amari and Crabtree. He would often throw behind them on slants or crossers and would many times underthrow them on deep balls. Amari would often just outrun the ball and look effortless doing so. McGloin understanding just how fast Amari (and Crabtree) are may be important.
    • Matt's delivery, leg drive, and arm strength make for an easier ball to catch than Derek (sometimes). It's an easier read to see the ball come off McGloin's hand. Derek's explosive wrist makes the ball sometimes jump off his hand and can get on top of the receiver very quickly, especially on quick short throws.
    • Matt will have a couple of downfield opportunities and he'll have to hit them. An underthrow to an open deep receiver will probably be an interception against a team like Denver.
    • Trust. McGloin is going to trust his receivers to make plays. They have to come thru and they have to trust him. Early indications are good.

  • QBs with Big Arms are "sexy" but accuracy and the entire mental side of the game is what makes great QBs. McGloin appears to be somewhere in between and exactly how proficient he is will determine how effective he will be.
  • What separates the great ones is not the physical, but the mental. McGloin shows mental tools to be a very effective QB.
  • Running game is peaking
    • All three primary RBs are contributing and primed
    • DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, and Jamize Olawale all contributing in the passing game and offer many opportunities for mismatches
    • Unorthodox formations with the RBs and multiple motions aid the QB in coverage recognition and can lead to defensive confusion
    • Matt is very good at carrying out the play action fake. Effective run game will be very beneficial.
  • Commanding the offense
    • Biggest step forward for Derek Carr this year has been just how in control of the offense he has been. Last two years, he often had play clock issues, but this year, he's right on top of everything and often gets the team into the proper play call.
    • Matt has been in the offense as long as Derek has and has watched, studied, and practiced the same things. The key is how will he perform ?
  • Game planning
    • Bill Musgrave's sense and feel for using the players is improving game to game.
    • He may also be peaking at just the right time.
    • Has similar mental makeup of Derek Carr and so game plan may not need too much change much except to identify McGloin's specific strengths and weaknesses
    • The use of the RBs in the passing game is now very effective
    • May use more inside-the-numbers throws and this may make Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera a bigger part of the gameplan.
    • Screen game may be in best form since the 2015 Week 5 explosion v SD.
    • McGloin has been part of this offense since the beginning. He's been preparing 2 years for this opportunity.
    • In arguably his 2nd biggest start (his first career start may be the biggest game of his career), McGloin may be feeling "butterflies" or may be overly excited. Derek Carr even earlier this year tended to be excited early in the 1st quarter and his throws tended to show it. McGloin may show similar early in this upcoming game and the game plan may want to mitigate this.
  • Expectations
    • Matt McGloin shows traits and skills capable of leading this team to wins.
    • Early success will be crucial. While he is confident, early successes will bolster that and allow him to relax; it will also help rally both his teammates and the fans. If offense and defense see success they can also play relaxed.
    • Early play by defense will also help set the tone. If the defense gives up big plays and the team gets down early, it changes how McGloin and the offense will feel. Big defensive stops and/or key takeaways will rally the offense.
    • Denver No Fly Zone pass defense is fantastic, especially with Aqib Talib playing. Even with Derek Carr, the Raiders may not make a living throwing the ball often. With the previous game success on the ground, expect the Broncos' defense to adjust to gameplan to stop the running game. This may provide some opportunities for McGloin in the air and he has to make good on them. Some key early throws may set the tone for how Denver plays on defense.
    • Teammates must rally around McGloin and play good football. Penalties and drops can bring doubt into the team and may lead to McGloin to start "trying too hard". Cannot afford many 1st-and-20s.
    • "It is not important that you play well; it is important that we win." - Al Davis to Jim Plunkett. When Plunkett took over in 1983, Al Davis wanted him to realize that he was part of the offense and not the focal point of it.


A note on assessment :

  • You will see what you want to see. Rookie QBs will show good and bad on film. Derek Carr did and so does Matt McGloin.
  • Projection. In assessing McGloin, try to see how it projects over time. It is a difficult task because the number of "datapoints" is limited. He has played on limited snaps (all in relief or in Preseason games). It's very difficult to truly gauge his progress based on that.
  • Development. Matt McGloin is not the same QB he was 3 years ago. With 2 different coordinators and 2 different QB coaches and 3 offseasons, McGloin has had time to continue to develop as a QB. Based on what we know, he's a tireless worker and so he's been putting in time to make himself better, but exactly how much better he has become without the benefit of playing time is yet to be seen.

Highlight Reel


Year Wk Opp Comp Yds YPA TD Int Rat Link
2013 9 PHI 7/15 (46%) 87 5.8 0 0 65.1 Youtube
2013 11 HOU 18/32 (56%) 197 6.2 3 0 105.9 Youtube
2013 12 TEN 19/32 (59%) 260 8.1 1 1 82.8 Youtube
2013 13 DAL 18/30 (60%) 255 8.5 0 1 73.6 Youtube
2013 14 NYJ 18/31 (58%) 245 7.9 2 1 91.5 Youtube
2013 15 KC 18/35 (51%) 297 8.5 2 4 59.8 Youtube
2013 16 SD 20/36 (55%) 206 5.7 0 1 60.6 Youtube
2015 1 CIN 23/31 (74%) 142 4.6 2 1 91.1 Youtube