The Raiders will get back to work Tuesday, and prep for the regular-season finale at Denver.
Quarterback Derek Carr won’t be there. He’s in Los Angeles to surgically repair a right fibula broken during Saturday’s victory over Indianapolis.
It’s extremely likely Carr won’t be available to play again this season. The Raiders will turn to backup Matt McGloin, hoping he can carry this team through the playoffs.
Head coach Jack Del Rio wants to focus on the future, a theme clear during his Monday press conference. He didn’t offer details on Carr. He honed his comments on McGloin now leading the way.
The Raiders don’t have forever to mourn Carr’s loss. They must carry on without their MVP candidate. It won’t be easy, but it must be done.
“It’s a tough game,” Del Rio said “Things happen in this game. It’s all about the team. It’s all about us moving on with the next opportunity and pulling together as a group of men and being unselfish and sacrificing for each other. All of those things. It doesn’t change. It doesn’t change regardless of who it is. It’s about the team. It’s about us winning. That’s not in any way meant to be insensitive. You always show love and appreciation for anybody who was banged up or has an unfortunate event happen, but the team does carry on. That’s what we do.”
The Raiders ultimate goals haven’t changed. They want to win the AFC West with a victory over Denver on Sunday. That would secure home-field advantage in the divisional round and at least and a first-round bye. It would also put the Raiders in better position to win the conference and the league. While it certainly seems harder with Carr on the shelf, the Raiders are pushing forward just the same.
“We remain on a mission and we’re looking forward to this week and the last chapter for the regular season,” Del Rio said. “We’re excited to kind of put last week behind us and move ahead as a team and get ourselves prepared.”
There will be plenty of discussion about McGloin this week -- his strengths and weaknesses. As a primer, McGloin is supremely confident, with a willingness to fit passes into tight windows. He doesn’t have Carr’s size or arm strength, but can move the ball downfield.
“He’s a really competitive guy. He really attacks his preparation,” Del Rio said. “He’s a little bit fearless. I think he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, I’d say.”
It’s pretty big actually. Athletes find motivation in strange places, but McGloin hasn’t looked hard for his. He hasn’t been given a chance at several stops, as a walk-on turned starter at Penn State. He wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, didn’t get drafted and only latched on to the Raiders as a fourth quarterback. He beat out 2013 fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson and started six games as a rookie.
Del Rio says McGloin prepares well and is capable of stepping right in.
“He’s handled himself very well,” Del Rio said. “Been prepared to go all year in the case that anything were to occur. He’s ready to step in and take advantage of his opportunity.”
McGloin has an opportunity because of Carr’s injury, which came late fourth quarter with the Raiders up 19 points with roughly 11 minutes left. Some have questioned why Carr was still in the game up a large margin or why the Raiders were passing regardless of down and distance.
“I think when you end up looking at the final score, we won by eight points,” Del Rio said. “We won by one score basically. Andrew Luck, people here in the Bay Area, I think, have a pretty good understanding of what he is capable of. I know I do. We felt like you had to keep the pedal down on that opponent, that quarterback in that game. You’re talking about a team facing elimination. We knew we were going to get everything they had to close the game anyway they could, and we were prepared for that.”