Even Matt McGloin has grown tired of all the talk about the chip.
Derek Carr’s replacement is the guy who walked on at Penn State, only to set the school record for touchdown passes. He’s the guy who went uninvited to the NFL combine and unselected in the NFL draft, only to sign with the Oakland Raiders as a fourth-stringer and ultimately start six games during his rookie season.
“I’ve obviously gotten that question a lot throughout my career, you know, playing with a chip on your shoulder and things like that,” McGloin told reporters earlier this week during his first press conference as a starting quarterback since December 2013. “I don’t necessarily think I play that way. I think I just really enjoy playing the game. I really enjoy competition.”
As McGloin continued his effort to dismantle the narrative, the undersized and undrafted former walk-on insisted it’s not the haters who fuel his fire.
“Some writers may like me, some may not like me,” McGloin said. “It is what it is. I don’t really try to let that bother me. To be honest with you, I don’t read a ton of your stuff or your articles.”
McGloin’s Twitter habits belie that claim. The 5-foot-11 quarterback has blocked nearly all of the writers on the Raiders beat and even scores of the Silver and Black’s rank-and-file supporters.
“Look, I’m not searching out people to block them on Twitter. I don’t sit there on my phone and do that,” McGloin said, expounding on his social media philosophy. “But I’ll be honest with you guys, if I’m reading an article and I come across somebody [with] a sarcastic tweet or an article bashing the Oakland Raider organization or the guys in the locker room, I don’t want to read that stuff.”
With the Raiders needing just one win over the Denver Broncos to secure the AFC West title — and a New England Patriots loss away from landing the No. 1 seed — Oakland doesn’t need McGloin to be the ultimate underdog. Oakland just needs McGloin to blend in on a team that still boosts six Pro Bowlers — even with Carr in a cast.
When Jack Del Rio was asked if the longtime backup was carrying himself any differently now that he’s the new No. 1, the head coach laughed off the question.
“We’re not going to have a question of the day on how he’s doing … is his blood pressure up, [if his] heart rate is the same,” Del Rio joked to reporters at the team’s headquarters in Alameda. “I mean, I think he’s excited for the opportunity, and as a football team, we’re excited for the opportunity.”
On Dec. 22, 2013 — the last time McGloin started — Andre Holmes was the team’s leading receiver. These days, Holmes is fourth on a depth chart headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who rank No. 4 and No. 11, respectively, in receiving yards in the AFC.
Thanks to an offensive line featuring three Pro Bowlers, the Raiders’ rushing attack has been eating up yards — especially over the past month. Oakland has strung together four consecutive games with at least 100 yards and cleared the 200-yard mark for the second time this season in the team’s Christmas Eve win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Surrounded by all that talent, McGloin gets to play the part of a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare: the unknown quantity.
With just five relief appearances on his résumé over the past three seasons, Broncos’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has precious little tape to consume.
The advantage of the unknown will evaporate soon enough, but it will work in McGloin’s and the Raiders’ favor in Week 17.