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Lowell Cohn: Reggie McKenzie rolls the dice by trading for Matt Schaub

  • FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2013 file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub warms up before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville, Tenn. The Texans are nearing a deal to trade Schaub to the Oakland Raiders, a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday, March 21, 2014. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

Praise Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie for aggressively deconstructing and then reconstructing his team. As part of the reconstruction phase, he traded for Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub, no longer desirable in Houston because of the joke factor.

Last season, Schaub became a joke in the National Football League by throwing a pick-six four games running, a pick six being an interception that the interceptor runs back for a touchdown. Schaub's string of pick-sixes is a league record and a laugh riot. He was so bad the Texans benched him for a rookie.

So, did Reggie

McKenzie do right by getting Schaub?

Let's proceed slowly on this, looking at Schaub and the Raiders from several points of view.

By agreeing to pay Schaub more than 10 big ones, as in millions, next season McKenzie is anointing this guy the starter. Forget Matt McGloin, Terrelle Pryor and Trent Edwards. Forget taking a quarterback with the fifth pick in the draft. Schaub is The Man.

Give McKenzie credit for introducing clarity at the quarterback spot, although it's hard to ignore, in the past, McKenzie hasn't exactly been a quarterback savant. He got Matt Flynn before last season, upped his salary, and Flynn promptly lost the starting job to Pryor in the preseason. McKenzie got rid of Flynn before the season ended. McKenzie drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round and cut him — Wilson was the highest pick cut from the 2013 draft.

We view McKenzie's quarterback "vision" with a healthy skepticism, a skepticism he has earned.

That doesn't mean Schaub is a crummy choice or he will fail. The league liked Schaub when he came out of Virginia in 2004. Even then, he handled life at the line of scrimmage brilliantly and was perceived as a high-intellect quarterback. He never was a scrambler or an improviser, but he could be a prototype pocket passer with a little bit of pocket movement when needed. One scout who worked the East Coast for the Broncos was euphoric about his decision-making and reported Schaub had more than an adequate arm.

Schaub proved this scout and the league right. For a time, he was a very good quarterback, especially in 2009.


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