Jack Del Rio: Raiders in no hurry to name starting quarterback

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A day after leaning toward starting veteran Matt McGloin at quarterback over rookie Connor Cook for Saturday's playoff game at Houston, Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was noncommittal in his weekly media conference call on Monday.

"We'll see," Del Rio said. "We'll see. We'll see how the week goes. Between Connor and Matt we'll see who ... can get the most reps and who we feel the most comfortable [with] going into the game."

Making his first start since 2013 in Sunday's 24-6 loss to the Denver Broncos, McGloin started slow and off target, missing Amari Cooper deep down the left sideline for what would have been a touchdown. He then injured his left, non-throwing shoulder late in the first half when driven into the ground by Broncos DE Jared Crick.

Cook, who had never dressed for a game before Sunday let alone taken an NFL snap, replaced McGloin at quarterback with less than two minutes remaining in the half and finished the game.

"I thought Connor was pretty solid," Del Rio said. "I thought he handled himself pretty well. Ball security is so huge; we had a couple of ball security issues. That defense is pretty good and I thought, overall, he did a pretty solid job for a tough set of circumstances."

Cook completed 14 of 21 attempts for 150 yards, though he also lost a fumble and was picked off when he overthrew an open Mychal Rivera down the middle of the field near the end zone.

But his 18.1 Total QBR -- after leading the Raiders to just six points on nine drives -- was the third-worst in the NFL on Sunday, surpassing only theLos Angeles Rams' Jared Goff (9.6) and theDallas Cowboys' Mark Sanchez (4.7).

"I'm going to do what I've been doing all year," Cook, who would become the first QB in the Super Bowl era to make his first career start in the postseason should he get the nod, said after the game.

"When I was inactive, I was still watching film and still studying the game plan and going over everything -- my reads, my hots and all that. It's not going to change anything for me. I'm going to still prep as if I'm playing; it doesn't matter if I'm backup, starter or whatever."

McGloin, meanwhile, completed six of 11 passes for 21 yards against the Broncos, and said after the game he expected to be healthy enough to play Saturday.

"We had a great week of practice," McGloin said at the time. "We prepared hard and we were excited to play this game. We knew it was at high stakes. Unfortunately, we couldn't have gotten it done."

Del Rio acknowledged that it looked as though McGloin was "pressing" against Denver, with a division title and playoff bye on the line.

McGloin was still "sore" Monday, Del Rio said, and underwent an MRI. But the coach said he had no diagnosis from the image.

"Usually if there's a problem, they'll come up and let me know," Del Rio said. "I think it's just sore. It was banged pretty good and it's sore."

With league MVP candidate Derek Carr out with a broken right leg suffered last week, and McGloin hurting, the Raiders, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, are in scramble mode at quarterback.

Del Rio would not confirm agent Leigh Steinberg's tweet from earlier in the day that his client, Garrett Gilbert, had signed with the Raiders' practice squad and would be active in Houston if McGloin is unable to play.

But if it did come down to McGloin or Cook, Del Rio said, it would still be a tough situation for Oakland. Del Rio said the best way for the Raiders to help whichever player is under center Saturday is to eliminate defensive breakdowns -- such as a 64-yard run on second-and-11, or a 43-yard touchdown on a screen pass on third-and-18. The latter gave the Broncos a 17-0 halftime lead.

"The quarterbacks are going to give us what they have, do the best they can, and we've got to play well around them," Del Rio said. "And we can't expect them to come in and put us on their shoulders.

"We need them to just come in and just do their job, and that's what we'll expect them to do this week."

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