Terrelle Pryor still occupies a spot on an NFL roster in 2013. It’s more than some critics imagined for the talented quarterback two years ago. Pryor was the supplemental pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2011 after he was jettisoned from Ohio State University for his involvement in receiving improper benefits.
Pryor has been the backup to the overrated Carson Palmer — who has been extended contractually by the club. Pryor whet our appetites with his arm, accuracy and open field prowess in the 2012 pre-season.
Enough with the samplers, we’re ready for the full course.
“Hunger is a great spur” – Robert Carlyle
The quarterback best suited to run the read option/pistol offense may not be in Carolina, Seattle or Washington D.C.
He probably isn’t in San Francisco either.
There’s a good chance he’s just over the Bay Bridge, holding a clipboard for the Oakland Raiders. Terrelle Pryor has been disgraced and dissected by the media for his role in the Ohio State scandal heading into his senior year. As a supplemental draft pick, his career in the NFL was predestined by some to be brief and uneventful. Pryor was selected by the Oakland Raiders — a recent Bermuda Triangle for quarterbacks.
The Raiders have extended the contract of brittle starter Carson Palmer. In 35 games with the silver and black, Palmer has passed for 35 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Palmer’s season QB ratings in Oakland are 80.5 and 85.3 respectively. Palmer has become his own worst enemy snatching defeat from victory with timely miscues over the last two seasons.
When Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie fired head coach Hue Jackson at the end of the 2011 season, it hindered the progression of Pryor and the Raiders offense.
In 2010, under Jackson’s guidance, the Raiders offense finished fourth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL in scoring (25.6 points per game) also finished fifth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL in total offense (354.6 yards per game) and second in the NFL and AFC in rushing (155.9 yards per game). The Raiders more than doubled their scoring output from the previous year, totaling 410 points. Under Jackson’s offense, running back Darren McFadden finished the season with 1,157 yards rushing on 223 carries for a 5.2 average yards per carry and 7 rushing touchdowns. McFadden also had 47 receptions for 507 yards and 3 touchdowns. His total numbers were 1,664 total yards and 10 total touchdowns for the 2010 NFL season. Making McFadden the NFL’s 5th leader in total yards from scrimmage for the 2010 season.
Pryor’s revealing 2012 preseason answered critics who questioned his ability to run an NFL offense.
After struggling in his first game against the Dallas Cowboys, Pryor bounced back the following week against the Detroit Lions. Pryor’s performance reminded us he was the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy before leaving Columbus.
Carson Palmer started in 15 of 16 games last season and while the Raiders dropped to 4-12, upper management chose to stick it out with Palmer — despite less than stellar results. In fact, Palmer hasn’t been the same since he tore his ACL in the playoffs against the Steelers in 2006. Even in relief, the Raiders went with Matt Leinart in Week 15. There’s no need to waste words on what Leinart has failed to do in the NFL after being selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Pryor got his first NFL start against the San Diego Chargers in Week 16. Pryor passed for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, he also rushed for 49 yards and a score. His overall numbers didn’t jump off the page, but the quality of Pryor’s work garnered attention.
Despite talk of drafting West Virginia QB Geno Smith and the extension to Palmer, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has declared the starting quarterback position up for grabs. Allen is fully aware of what Colin Kaepernick accomplished for the 49’ers last season. Allen knows he has the same kind of player in Pryor. The Raiders were pleased with his play in the season finale against the Chargers, but there is a certain level of commitment to Palmer which is irksome. Of course Pryor has to win the job in practice and in the preseason. Otherwise, he’ll only hit the field when Palmer goes down (which may not take much time either).
At 6’4″ 233 lbs., Pryor has the ideal size and build to withstand the pounding — which serves as a side effect of running such a sick offense. Not to be overlooked is his 4.3 speed. So it will be hard for defenders to hit what you can’t catch.
The Raiders have the weaponry to be potentially lethal in the pistol formation once the offensive line is shored. Here’s what Oakland offers at the skill positions.
Darren McFadden is an ideal back for this offense ( He was apart of the Wild Hog Offense at Arkansas), but injuries have plagued him from day one. McFadden has played only 19 games since 2010. That season, he rushed for 1,157 yards and 7 touchdowns, both career highs. New offensive coordinator Greg Olson is switching from the zone blocking scheme incorporated by former coordinator Greg Knapp to a power blocking scheme. This plays to McFadden’s strengths with a lot of play action and gap scheming. The free agency market offers some big names like Stephen Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Turner. The Raiders might have a keeper in Mike Goodson — who is speedy, yet unproven.
The Raiders had four receivers with over 500 yards last season. In comparison, the San Francisco 49ers had only two in their Super Bowl run. Oakland was able to spread the ball around, a healthy characteristic in any offense. Tight end Brandon Myers (809 yds.) was flanked by Denarius Moore (741 yds.), Darius Heyward-Bey (606 yds.) and rookie Rod Streater (584 yds.). Let’s just throw in fullback/tight end Marcel Reece with 496 yards as well. The Raiders had the NFL’s eighth best passing attack, a real head scratcher for a 4-12 team. The Raiders can go after a burner like Mike Wallace or pursue a sure-handed Wes Welker in free agency.
The Raiders Achilles was their running game. They ranked 29th in the NFL at 3.8 yards a carry. The Raiders middle off the pack defense ranked 13th against the pass and 15th against the run.
The table is set for Terrelle Pryor to have a mind-boggling season in Oakland. If you think I’m dismissing Carson Palmer as the starter, you are correct. When the Raiders coaching staff speaks of Pryor, two words you hear are progression and opportunity — things which were scarce in his life two years ago.
The Raiders three Lombardi Trophies have come from the effort of young men deemed as cast-offs hungry for redemption. Pryor has the opportunity to write the greatest story of them all.