Top NFL Rookie of Week 11: Oakland Raiders QB Matt McGloin

Each Tuesday of the NFL season Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Rookie of the Week. To qualify, the first-year professional player must have played a significant role in a competitive NFL game, demonstrating not just flashes of talent but the potential to emerge as a legitimate long-term standout. The player's draft status -- whether as a former first round pick or undrafted free agent -- does not apply.

Top NFL Rookie of Week 11: Oakland Raiders QB Matt McGloin

Just seven days ago it didn't seem likely that we would see an easier "slam dunk" pick for Rookie of the Week than St. Louis Rams' wideout and punt return extraordinaire Tavon Austin .

But as he has proven the ability to do now at every level of football, Matt McGloin surprised us all.

The former walk-on at Penn State and undrafted free agent brushed off any nerves at starting his first NFL game and guided the Oakland Raiders to a 28-23 victory in Houston over fellow UDFA quarterback Case Keenum , reigning NFL Defensive MVP J.J. Watt and the Texans. 

Demonstrating the same poise and short to intermediate level accuracy which helped him lead the Big Ten a year ago in passing for the Nittany Lions, McGloin completed 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in his debut. To put those numbers in perspective consider that according to the NFL, no undrafted rookie quarterback making his first career start has ever thrown for as many touchdowns without throwing an interception.  The 28 points are a season-high for the Raiders, who at 4-6 are only a game out of the last wild-card spot in the AFC. 

The rookie quarterback had plenty of help in this game. Oakland's coaching staff, led by Dennis Allen, certainly deserve kudos for preparing the rookie so quickly. Veteran running back Rashad Jennings ran for 150 yards, including a career high 80 yards for a score.  Further, the Texans gave him opportunities, including setting up his first NFL touchdown pass with an interception thrown by Keenum on Houston's first drive of the game.

While McGloin was the recipient of perhaps some lucky breaks, his three touchdowns came on a variety of routes which demonstrated the savvy, touch and accuracy necessary to have "earned the right" to remain a candidate for the Raiders' starting quarterback role once Terrelle Pryor is deemed healthy enough to return from a nagging knee injury. 

McGloin's three touchdown passes are broken down in detail below.

  • Due to the Texans fumble, McGloin and the Raiders' first drive began in the red zone. The Raiders started the drive with five consecutive runs with Jennings. On third-and-3 from the 5-yard line, however, McGloin dropped back to hit wideout Denarius Moore on a quick slant. McGloin's pass was perfectly placed and thrown with zip, leading Moore to an easy score.
  • Keenum was intercepted a second time to spark the Raiders' next score. Rather than play it safe, this time the Raiders gave McGloin an opportunity to turn the Texans' turnover into immediate points. Taking the ball out of the shotgun, McGloin saw wideout Rod Streeter beat veteran cornerback Brice McCain inside on a post route. Showing the same zip on in-cutting routes which impressed me while throwing touchdowns for Penn State, McGloin delivered another strike, giving the Raiders an early 14-7 lead.
  • McGloin's most impressive touchdown of the day was his last one, a well-placed 26-yard deep post to tight end Mycal Rivera, a fellow first-year player. The Raiders were facing a 1st and 20 and had McGloin take the snap out of the shotgun. He briefly extended the ball toward Jennings on play-action and the fake caused the Texans' linebackers to crash towards the line of scrimmage. Rivera broke free deep down the left seam but the ball had to be placed carefully over Houston's linebackers. McGloin's pass was beautifully lobbed over them and into Rivera's hands for yet what turned out to be the game-winning score.  

The majority of McGloin's passes were short to intermediate quick throws with some occasional touch passes down the seam. He did attempt some deeper, more challenging passes in this contest, including a couple of bombs that were just out of the reach of intended targets and a very well thrown deep ball to split double-team coverage from Houston on wide receiver Andre Holmes that ranks among Oakland's best throw and catch combinations of the 2013 season. 

It remains to be seen who will start at quarterback this week for the Raiders, who host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Rookie of the Week Archives:

Week One: Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei
Week Two: Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins
Week Three: New York Jets QB Geno Smith
Week Four: Buffalo Bills ILB Kiko Alonso
Week Five: Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy
Week Six: Detroit Lions TE Joseph Fauria
Week Seven: Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed
Week Eight: Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington
Week Nine: New England Patriots WR Aaron Dobson
Week 10: St. Louis Rams' WR/PR Tavon Austin

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