Sat down with Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub Thursday as part of a story being prepared in advance of the Raiders organized team activity.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Q: You said at the press conference announcing trade that a QB has to step in the huddle and demand things from his teammates, and you set the course the offseason . . . is that course being set now?
Schaub: That has already started to take place. I’ve played in a lot of games, a lot of football, and coming in here as a new guy in town, I want to come in and take control of the huddle. That’s the job of the quarterback. I’ve been in it enough to know that, and it’s up to me to come in and help set a standard for how our offense is going to operate and how we’re going to work and how we’re going to prepare, how we’re going to be successful. Guys have to know that, and you’ve got to demand that out of the guys in the huddle with you. At the same time you’ve got to do your job, fulfill your role and be accountable to your teammates. We’re all accountable to one another and when we get to that point, there’s a lot of good things this offense can do because of the talent that we have. That has already started to take place.
Q: How about building relationships _ this is a new experience for you having been in the same place or so long . . .same offensive system . . . do you find it stimulating?
Schaub: It is. It’s a lot of fun, because the locker room is such a great place, and working out this time of year, being with the guys, going and doing things away from the building. When the day’s over, you go bowling, you go to baseball games, you go to dinner, those things, that’s just building chemistry, building relationships. You go through so much during the season that this time of year often can win you two or three games, it can also lose you two or three games if you don’t handle it the right way and prepare the right way. It’s been such a great first five weeks of the offseason program, just getting to know the guys, trying to get to know each one of them on a personal level, on an individual basis as well as as a position group. Trying to find out what makes guys tick. Everyone is different, and as a quarterback you have to, at times, be somewhat of a psychologist a little bit. Know what motivates guys. Know how to get ‘em going. Can I joke around in the huddle with this guy to keep him loose? Is that when he plays his best. Does this guy need a little fire lit under him? That’s what you find out now, and for me, coming from a place where I was for seven years, it’s stimulating. It’s so much fun to come into work every day. We have such a hard working group of guy, and the want-to level to be the best is there with each one of them. So to be in this environment is great for me and where I’m at in my career.
Q: Derek Carr said how much appreciated that you called him just to welcome him to the team . . . looking to make a good quarterback room? Something you hope someone would extend to you as a young player?
Schaub: Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I’ve done my whole career is reach out to, especially offensive players that are picked, some of the top picks, just to reach out and lend a hand. I know how much of a process and a whirlwind that whole deal can be, and now finally knowing what you’re going to be. Obviously you hear from coaches and you hear from administrative staff and everything, but to hear from some of your teammates that reach out to, it can go a long way for young players. In the quarterback room, we’re unique because of what we’re charged with in our role and position on the team. I just wanted to reach out and say, hey, it’s going to be a fun room, it’s going to be a fun time, but there is a lot of work to be done, and be ready to come in here and work and get better every day, because there’s so much to be learned. I’ve watched a lot of young quarterbacks come into the league in my career and I was once one of those guys. It can go a long way just to have a phone call and a little conversation. That was my reasoning behind it. He’s a great kid, and ready to come in to work, and we’re glad to have him.
Q: So many vets with impressive resumes. Justin Tuck wants to prove he can play effectively in his 30s. Maurice Jones-Drew wants to prove he’s still got it, Lamarr Woodley . . . do you include yourself in that group of players with something to prove?
Schaub: No doubt. No doubt. I’m definitely in that group, as should everyone. I think in this profession, we’ve all seen, no matter if you’re a second-year player or an 11-year vet how quickly it can go in this business. You have a locker one day, the next day you don’t. Every day you go to work you have to be out to prove you can play at this level and you’re the right guy at your position and the right guy to do the job. You’ve got to have that edge or you’ll take something for granted and before you know it it will be gone. We have such a small window to play this game in the overall scheme of life that you’ve got to cherish every moment and you’ve got to prove to the league, to the coaches, to the owners, to the GMs, that you’re the guy for the job. I’m definitely in that position and that’s how I approach it when I come in to work.
Q: Coach Olson has talked about how much he looked forward to having a veteran quarterback to take ownership of the offense, get the team out of bad plays, someone you can really trust . . . after being in same system for seven years, to jump into this one and have you charged with running it . . .
Schaub: It’s exciting. It’s just like going to a new place and getting a fresh start. To come to an offense where the coach is looking to give you more freedom, and looking to give you more control of things. I had that in some aspects in Houston, but there are things I’m being asked to do here that I didn’t have control of in Houston. I would have loved to, but we just weren’t in control of it. To now be in that position, and being the quarterback, that’s such a great place to be because you can get everyone on the same page. You can get into a great play, a better play that you had called. It’s just grinding through the process because the quarterback and the coordinator need to be linked. We’re an extension of the coach on the field and just picking his brain and understanding what he’s thinking when we see certain defenses. That’s just something we’re building now and we’re going to continue to build throughout the summer and throughout training camp, so when we get to that first preseason game, things are clicking and we’re on the same page. It’s a work in progress but I’m ecstatic to have that situation because it’s something I’ve wanted to try and get to.
Q: What has community been like? Have you been recognized by fans? Raider fans coming up to you?
Schaub: Some do. I’ve been here most all days so I haven’t quite been out there as much. I’ve been out with teammates and yeah, we’re recognized based on being out with Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden, those guys are so visible. They notice sometimes, but I’m flying under the radar right now. I’ve been in here from sun-up to sun down. It’s all work right now.
Q: Before last season you had five consecutive seasons with a 90-plus passer rating. Passer rating is no the be-all and end-all, but it does speak to consistency. Only a handful of guys have ever done it. Tom Brady’s best is four. Brett Favre’s best is four. Does that speak to the efficiency you desire?
Schaub: I hope so. I think that’s for others to talk about, coaches and people of that nature. I just try to go out and help my team as best I can and play the best football I can to put my team in a position to win. That’s my responsibility to them and that’s my goal. Whatever my rating might be, that’s what it is. I like to think it shows some level of consistency and a level of play that shows that, I try to put my team in position to win, based on my play. I think there’s plenty of that still left in me and we’re going to go find it.
Q: For that kind of consistency five years in a row, was it disappointing or upsetting that a lot of people wrote you off after one bad year?
Schaub: It comes with the territory. It comes with the position. It comes with playing in the NFL. If you let it get to you, you’ll be out the door faster than you came in. It’s just the way it is and you’ve got to learn to take that in stride and you’ve got to know as the quarterback, or the head coach, when things are going good you’re probably going to get too much praise. When things are going bad, you’re going to get most of the blame. It’s just the nature of the NFL.
Q: Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie’s mantra has been about getting professionals, guys that not only prepare, but love doing it. What do you love about football in terms of preparation?
Schaub: I just love, there’s so much you can do watching tape. Studying other teams. Studying other players. Just that grind of how you can get better. How other guys operate. How defensive coordinators think. How they approach situations. There’s so much about the game, that this time of year, you can just sit and watch tape for hours and hours because there is so much to be learned and so much to be absorbed. No matter how long you’ve played, the game is always evolving, always changing and trying to learn new things. Maybe pick an attribute or a trait from one guy and try and incorporate that in to your game. Just continue to grow as a player. It’s a never-ending process. That’s just something that’s fun to do, evaluate year-in and year-out, how the game’s changed and how are defenses adjusting different things the offenses are trying to go. More shotgun, or spread, how are they adjusting? It’s a chess match and it’s a fun game to play.
Q: Have you found that there indeed a lot of like-minded players?
Schaub: Absolutely. I think Reggie and Dennis Allen, I think they’ve done a great job trying to bring guys that are all about working, all about getting better. You can see that, and you can see those type of guys that are veterans that can come in and help some of the young players on this roster that have so much talent, just show them how to work, just a little bit more to get the most out of it. Just that right combination of veteran presence with younger players in the building, it’s really coming together nicely as we get through the offseason program.
Q: What are you seeing from your receiving corps?
Schaub: A lot of hard work. They push each other and work hard every day. They work out together and you can see it, in the weight room, when we’re running, when we’re throwing routes, when we’re working team drills, you can just see how much they’re competing and competition just makes everyone better. Just guys that really want to reach the pinnacle of their game and it’s exciting to watch them throw.
Q: Ankle last year, Lisfranc the year before . . .are you as healthy now as you’ve ever been?
Schaub: Yeah, definitely.