Terrelle Pryor, Dennis Allen Take Steps Forward

In NFL network’s special installment of Sunday Night football red hot Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers squared off against the new look Oakland Raiders led by Terrelle Pryor. The game had headlines circling this game like scavenging crows. The game moved to a post prime time slot due to an Oakland A’s game played on the same field 24 hours prior. The biggest news was Fox’s Jay Glazer report Oakland had promised Tampa Bay Buccaneers cast off Josh Freeman the starting signal caller position if he signed with the Raiders. I call bullshit on this report. Freeman has shown nothing this season which warrant starting duties and the time to learn the offense would be a long road, not to mention this goes against the very fiber of everything Dennis Allen has preached throughout the offseason. The most likely scenario was the Raiders intend to cut Matt Flynn and are bringing in a veteran to back up Pryor who his capable of moving the chains when called upon. The Raiders most likely told Freeman he would be allowed to compete for a starting position, Freeman who wanted to go to the Vikings leaked what he wanted the Vikings to believe as negotiating leverage for the starting job in Minnesota. It was reported minutes before kickoff Freeman had reached a 1-year deal with the Vikings.
Terrelle Pryor responded to the speculation with a performance Freeman has yet to accomplish this season and hasn’t since week nine of last year when he also faced the Chargers. Pryor has put together back to back good efficient games against two AFC West rivals and posted a passer rating over a hundred in each game. Pryor’s back to back 100+ passer rating is the first for a Raider QB since week nine and ten in 2011 when newly acquired Carson Palmer managed similar success. The offensive line issues continue to mount for the black and silver, Stephan Wisniewski was replaced by Andre Gurode marking the fifth different starting offensive line unit in as many weeks. Given the aforementioned O-line issues Pryor’s athleticism alone gives him an advantage over most quarterbacks in the league yet alone Josh Freeman. Pryor salvaged multiple doomed plays, eluding would be sacks and tackles for a lost to either run or throw for positive yardage. Pryor has gotten better each week and given his often complemented work ethic, all indications are he will continue to improve. The Raiders may have found their guy especially if Pryor doesn’t rest on his laurels and continues to sharpen his rapidly growing skill set.
Dennis Allen also showed marked improvement. The first half game plan and execution was exactly what the Raiders needed to walk a way victorious. Dennis Allen’s time in Denver, an earlier game against Denver which featured a more well oiled version of the Charger’s offense and familiarity with first year Charger head coach Mike McCoy presented a game Allen and crew knew exactly what to expect. The defense took away the quick passes the Chargers have adopted this year and got some pressure on Rivers culminating in three interceptions. Second half adjustments went in favor of San Diego. Philip Rivers began to connect with his targets early and often against the conservative Raiders defense. The Raiders offense sputtered due to penalties and Gurode tripping Pryor out of the snap multiple times. The Chargers pulled within a score, but the Raiders held on behind the defense forcing turnovers and a late Pryor drive for a field goal that made it a two score contest. Penalties resurfaced for the Raiders (8-85 yds) and the team came out flat in the second half, both of which are things the Raiders don’t want to be an issue going into next Sunday’s matchup against the undefeated Chiefs.
Pryor and Allen are each taking steps forward and may be key cogs in returning the Raiders to prominence. The Raiders front office needs to stop trying to replace Pryor and creating any circumstances which could negatively affect Pryor’s development and take this year to fully evaluate what they have in Pryor. Through 5 weeks and 4 games Pryor has a 97.6 rating which is just behind Matt Ryan and just ahead of Matthew Stafford, while not having a Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones. Pryor is also 5th in completion percentage (68.3) amongst starting QBs just behind Drew Brees and enough to raise his career completion percentage to 63.4 which is .8 higher than Rich Gannon attained while in silver and black. Stats can be manipulated to argue any point, the aforementioned are remarkable and a revelation for a QB who was supposed to be more athletic than passer. These upwardly trends coupled with Pryor’s constant growth have exceeded every pundits expectations and most likely the Oakland coaching staff.
The Raiders have workouts slated for former Giant QB David Carr and Pat White over the next few days. Neither figure to challenge Pryor, but will look to solidify the role left vacant by Matt Flynn’s release. One of the unique qualities of the new regime has been to waste little time in admitting a mistake and rectifying the situation, whether its cutting a 4th rounder following the draft or cutting a costly acquisition. Most front offices out of fear of public opinion will let a bad decision linger in hopes of it redeeming itself over time. On the flip side the new front office has not shown a propensity for evaluating offensive talent, most skill positions are occupied by the previous regimes personnel. Rod Streater looks to be a gem, but Reggie Mckensie will have to do more for the offense going forward.

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