ORLANDO, Fla. -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen's theme was direct and it was repeated as often as possible on Tuesday:

Newly-acquired quarterback Matt Schaub is a difference-maker for the Raiders, exactly the kind of player who can help win the games the Raiders lost so often n 2013.

Even matched up against the top QBs in the AFC West -- Denver's Peyton Manning, San Diego's Philip Rivers and Kansas City's Alex Smith.

That was Allen's line and he was sticking to it.

"We have a quarterback now that's on par with the quarterbacks in this division," Allen said at the AFC coaches' media session at the NFL annual meetings. "The best way to stop those offenses No. 1 is to keep your defense off the field. And I think with some of the things we've been able to do up front, both from a protection standpoint, from an ability to run the football, I think those things are going to help us.

"Obviously I think the quarterback's going to help us."

Allen's full-throttle praise of Schaub, 32, in many ways seems reminiscent of Jim Harbaugh's over-the-top gushing in support of Smith when Harbaugh took over the 49ers in 2011 ... and then led Smith to an incredible career revival.

And Schaub -- traded to the Raiders earlier this month -- definitely needs a revival after his horrendous 2013 season with the Houston Texans.

"I think sometimes when you get in those situations and the dominoes begin to fall, it's kind of hard to stop the momentum a little bit," Allen said of Schaub's horrendous performance last season.

"For whatever reason -- whether it be the fan base or coaching staff or ownership or whatever, and the tide begins to turn against you, it's hard to get that tide turned back around.


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"I think just being able to put that behind him, come here to Oakland with a fresh start with a group that believes in him, that's behind him, I think it'll benefit him."

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.