After years of being terrible, the Oakland Raiders have had an outstanding season, going 12-3 so far and leading the AFC West right now. But they also experienced the worst-possible scenario this weekend, watching QB Derek Carr suffer a broken right fibula.
They’ll have to try and wrap up the AFC West against Denver with Matt McGloin under center. The Raiders also must start the postseason without Carr. The only solace in this situation is that Carr could be back by the Super Bowl since his recovery timetable after surgery is 6-8 weeks.
If it’s six weeks, Carr could potentially play in Super Bowl 51 because the game takes place on Feb. 5 – six weeks and one day after his injury. Of course, the big catch is that McGloin will have to lead them there. So what are the chances of this happening?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this is a very unique situation in terms of quarterbacks getting hurt:
Here's how unique Derek Carr injury is: Since playoffs began in 1933, no QB with 12+ regular-season W's has failed to start postseason game.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 25, 2016
Head coach Jack Del Rio tried to remain optimistic in light of his star QB going down.
“It obviously is a blow,” Del Rio told ESPN.com. “That’s what teams do; teams have to find a way to pick up and move on. We’ll rally around the next guy as best we can. That’s what you do. It will be incumbent on the offensive line and the backs to do more. The defense to do more. The special teams to do more. As a team, pick it up and do more to fill in. Obviously, it’s a big setback.”
For Carr’s part, he feels that he can make a speedy recovery and possibly be ready for the Super Bowl.
“Thank you to everyone that has been praying for me!” he tweeted. “Things happen in life that we don’t always understand, BUT I do KNOW this. I serve a God that loves me and that is the ultimate healer! I am not worried one bit. I will bounce back and be on my feet in no time!”
While there’s plenty of optimism in Oakland right now, the big problem is that this is a bad time for Matt McGloin to be reacquainted as a starter.
The fourth-year Penn State player started six games for the Raiders in 2013, his rookie season. He threw for 8 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and 1,547 yards in seven appearances.
The difference, though, is that this was a terrible Raiders team with nothing to lose. The situation McGloin is stepping into now is much different because the team has everything to lose.
McGloin and the Raiders can help their case a lot by winning next weekend against the Denver Broncos. The game is in Denver, but the Broncos may not be as motivated since they’re officially eliminated from the playoffs. If Oakland wins and New England loses, they would grab the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed.
Even if the Patriots beat the Dolphins, the Raiders will still wrap up a first-round bye with a victory over Denver. And this is exactly what they need to do for any hope of playing in the Super Bowl.
Playing one less game and having a guaranteed home game in the divisional round would be huge as far as their chances of making it to the AFC Championship and Super Bowl go.
We should also add that McGloin isn’t totally inept. As USA Today points out, the Raiders put a second-round tender on McGloin to scare teams away from signing him without giving up a second-rounder. Assuming a team still signed him, Oakland was willing to part with $900,000 for the draft pick.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie also paid McGloin $2.56 million, which is top-10 backup money. Now, they get to see if their investment and faith in McGloin has been worth the price.
While we think that McGloin can succeed under the right circumstances, these don’t seem like the right circumstances. They have one regular season against one of the league’s toughest defenses to prepare, then McGloin will butt heads with playoff competition.
Again, the hope for Oakland is that they’ll have a first-round bye to give themselves a better chance of making it far. But even with this, it’s hard to see them going to the Super Bowl without one of the league’s top quarterbacks.