OAKLAND -- Matt Schaub started Friday’s exhibition on a tear.
The Raiders starting quarterback’s first throw came on third down, and hit James Jones in stride for a 13-yard gain. His next hit Rod Streater for six more yards. His next attempt hit Mychal Rivera in space, which allowed him to pick up 18.
Then Schaub was dealt a bad hand.
He threw a quality ball to Jones in traffic but it clanked off his hands, redirected laterally and ended up an interception. James Ihedigbo ran it back 38 yards, and was close to going all the way.
That’s normally chalked up to an occupational hazard, but any interception is a big deal after Schaub’s struggles in 2013 -- fair or not.
The interception cooled a hot start, and stole wind from the first unit’s sail. The offense went three-and-out on the next two drives, but Schaub rebounded well in his final piece of action.
His night finished with a touchdown drive, an 11-play, 60-yarder that took 5 minutes 22 seconds and exemplified how the Raiders want to score this regular season.
It also allowed Schaub to end on a high note.
“I felt comfortable and really got in a little bit of a rhythm with the guys,” Schaub said after Friday’s 27-26 victory over the Detroit Lions. “We were getting in and out of the huddle and were able to execute some things. It felt good.”
It was a step above last week’s struggle against Minnesota, but his numbers weren’t great. Schaub was 8-for-13 for 87 yards and an interception, which pans out to a 49.2 passer rating due to a small sample size.
Pressure must also be factored into Schaub’s performance. He was under duress most of the night, took some hits and made several quality throws under fire.
“I thought he held up fine,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “The first drive of the game, we’re on schedule and we’re doing good things and we were moving the football. Unfortunately the ball pops up in a bad-luck interception that they’re able to turn it into a big gain. That was kind of a bad-luck play, but overall I thought he did well.
"I thought the touchdown he led us to was a heck of a drive.”
Quarterback Derek Carr came in and took a series with the first team, but that shouldn’t imply there’s a quarterback controversy at hand. The Raiders still plan to start the season with Schaub at quarterback and remain confident in his ability despite a lack of zip on his throws.
Experience gives the Raiders the best chance to win their way, by staying on schedule and scoring on long, sustained drives.
That will give Schaub a chance to improve steadily despite bouts of ordinary play.
He looked a bit more in sync on Friday, and will have an extended period of play next week against the Green Bay Packers.