Matt McGloin: Strengths & Weaknesses

The man dubbed the “Red Rifle” by Raider fans is also often described as “fearless” and “fiery”. These descriptors are associated with him not just because of his red hair but because of the passion that shines through when he plays the game. From being a walk on at Penn State to going undrafted, he has been an underdog his entire career. He plays the game without fear and that undying confidence is his greatest strength but at times could be his undoing.

It was difficult to evaluate Mcgloin’s play because the last time he has seen any significant action was in his rookie year in which he started six games but was surrounded by inferior talent. In the three years since then, when he presumably has developed, he has only played in the preseason where he played with some guys that aren’t even on an NFL roster anymore. So it’s tough to get a sense of how he manages an entire game as a starter, but we could still see some of his strengths and weaknesses, as some themes do consistently show up on his film throughout his career.

Strength: Mcgloin’s best throws by far are in breaking routes (slants, posts, digs) and throws into the seam. He could make these throws without pressure and with pressure in his face. These throws are usually extremely well placed, right on the chest of his receivers. He could throw them in tight coverage, just outside the reach of the defenders when necessary. I would even go so far as to say that he throws a more consistent inside breaking throw than Derek Carr, but that’s about the only type of throw he could rival Carr in.

Weakness: Mcgloin is capable of making outside breaking routes if he is given a clean pocket or if he times the throw well, but it is not his best throw. There are times when tries to force outside breaking throws, but he just doesn’t have the arm to get away with it. This is not to say that he has a weak arm, but only quarterbacks with absolutely elite arms could make some of the outside throws that he tries to force.

On the first throw, he is a bit late with the throw and tries to force the throw and gets picked off. On the second and third throws in the clip, he gets a clean pocket and releases the ball on the wide receivers’ break for nice completions.

Strength: From everything we’ve heard from the inside, Mcgloin is a tireless worker and student of the game. Jack Del Rio has said that Mcgloin knows this offense inside and out and they’ve proven how much they value him by putting a second round tender on him during the offseason. He has some freedom at the line, as he does makes some checks, but it is unclear whether he is making protection calls or changing the play. He looks to be able to read the coverage effectively in pre season action, but defenses are much more vanilla.

Weakness: There are times when Mcgloin has too much confidence in his first read, which leaves him susceptible to disguised coverages or defensive backs baiting him into throws.

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On this play, Mcgloin motions running back, Deandre Washington out to identify the coverage. A linebacker follows him out and he sees that it is man coverage. His wide receiver (85) has one and one and looks like he could beat the defensive back on a quick out based on the defensive back’s leverage. However, the linebacker doesn’t go all the way outside when the ball is snapped and hovers around where the out route would end up. Instead of going to another read Mcgloin throws the ball anyways, but decides to sail it out of bounds mid-throw rather than go to another read.

There are multiple occasions when Mcgloin trusts his first read too much. This offensive line is going to give Mcgloin time, he will need to trust them and use his time in the pocket to find better options if his initial read is incorrect.

Strength: The word “fearless” is going to come up again. Mcgloin is fearless in the pocket. Even when he knows the pressure is coming right in his face, he will stand strong and attempt to deliver strong throws and even follow through in the face of pressure.

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There is a free rusher on this play, yet Mcgloin stands strong and delivers a perfect strike to his receiver. Unfortunately, the receiver doesn’t create much separation even though there is no inside help and can’t hang on to a ball that does hit him in the hands. Although it would have been a tough catch, it was one you’d expect an NFL receiver to make. Michael Crabtree should be able to help Mcgloin out in that department.

Weakness: Mcgloin’s fearlessness in the pocket could also be a hinderance. There are times when he will hang in the pocket too long and will try to make throws that are impossible to make while getting hit. When any quarterback gets hit while they are in a throwing motion, it’s going to affect his follow through and the throw itself. Sometimes Mcgloin is oblivious to this fact and tries to make a throw that is just impossible to make while getting hit.

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This type of far sideline throw has to be a strong, flat throw. Mcgloin has to step into this throw put this ball on a rope. However, a defender is barreling down on him and doesn’t give him room to step up into the throw. Instead he stays in the pocket and tries to make the throw without any power and the ball ends up 3 yards short of the wide receiver. He would have been better off trying to climb the pocket and attempting the throw with more more power behind it.

Strength: Mcgloin has the arm strength to throw a consistently well-placed fade ball with good trajectory.

However, he isn’t able to change trajectories or throw the back shoulder fade as well as could like Carr, but not many quarterbacks could. So I wouldn’t expect the Raiders to be as reliant on the fade ball, but if it’s there, Mcgloin is more than capable of making the throw.

Weakness: Mcgloin is not a fluid athlete, meaning he isn’t able to efficiently shift and control his weight on the move. This affects his ability to throw on the run.


You could see this on this throw. Mcgloin is forced to climb the pocket to evade a defender, but when he climbs you could see that his balance isn’t completely there and he makes an awkward throw that is well short of an open receiver.

This doesn’t mean that he is terrible at throwing on the run, but it’s not a strong suit of his. This means that we aren’t going to see him hit the 15-20 yard crossers against the grain that Carr makes look so routine. If the run game is strong enough though, those flats to the fullback or tight end would be wide open.

Strength: Mcgloin believes in his arm and receivers enough to take some chances down the field. On his third throw against the Colts, he showed this once again.

On the play, he actually doesn’t see the disguise. Again, he trusts his first read too much and thinks that the safety on Amari Cooper’s side is coming down into the box, giving Cooper a one on one match up. The safety steps up at the snap of the ball, but the slow pace in which he does should have been a clue that he wasn’t going to keep going. Mcgloin might not have seen the safety start to back up or just said “the hell with it” and threw the ball into double coverage anyways. Cooper makes a miraculous catch in double coverage and ends the game.

Weakness: Mcgloin’s definition of an open receiver is a small sliver of space. If a receiver gets a a step or two on a defensive back, they could almost bet Mcgloin is going to let the ball go. This approach garners big results but it could also put his receivers in danger or risk turnovers. I like his fearlessness with deep passes, but with the short passes, the risks doesn’t justify the rewards. Some of the throws that he tried to force short were from his rookie year, so hopefully  he has gotten pass this bad habit.

His game is more limited than Carr, so unless the run game is just dominant, he’ll have to take some risks, but his risks have to be high reward and well-timed. Although he got away with the throw to Amari to end the Colts, it could have easily gave Andrew Luck and the Colts good field position with some time left. He has been in the league for four years and hopefully will be more aware of risk/ reward and the situation for the remainder of the season.

Conclusion: The bottom line is that Mcgloin knows this offense from being in system for two years and preparing as if he’s the starter every week. He has flashed the ability to make every NFL throw and certainly doesn’t lack confidence. The Raider offense should look relatively similar to how it did with Carr and Mcgloin will be able to get under center. The run game has looked like it has reached new heights even with being stuck in the pistol because of Carr’s pinkie. If the run game continues to be dominant, Mcgloin will have the aid of the play action getting linebackers to step up, so he could hit the seams and make in-breaking throws. As mentioned, he throws a good fade ball and if defenses put eight in the box, he’ll be able to take advantage of one safety looks. Coach Musgrave could also help him by bringing back more run/pass options that involve in breaking routes on the backside of run plays. Mcgloin isn’t Carr, but he’ll have plenty of help around him to succeed.

Ted Nguyen is a football coach, offensive coordinator, QB coach, teacher and blogger. He graduated from UC Davis with his degree in English-Critical Analysis. He enjoys long walks on the beach and researching and writing about the latest developments and trends in football strategy.

2 comments on “Matt McGloin: Strengths & Weaknesses

  1. How far do you think McGloin can take us?

  2. Hopefully he’s learned to look off the safety better and go through his progressions after a few years with the same playbook and looking at game film.

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