For the Oakland Raiders this season began with a loss to the San Diego Chargers so its only fitting that a disappointing 2012 comes to and end with another loss to those same Chargers.
So the only real question is did Dennis Allen’s team make progress from week one until now? The answer is yes…kind of.
The score was closer this time around as the Raiders rallied to make this a 24-21 nail biter. Unlike the debacle that was the Monday Night opener there were no botched snaps by the emergency long snapper. So that is something to hang your hat on.
But if you really want a reason to be optimistic for the Silver and Black then just go back and take a look at what Terrelle Pryor did today in his first NFL start.
Sure, Pryor made his fare share of mistakes including a few ill-advised throws, a Carson Palmer-esque turnover and some seriously shaky footwork in the pocket. But this is a results driven business and in the last two games the Raiders as a team failed to find the end zone. In one afternoon of football Pryor was responsible for all three of Oakland’s TDs including two throwing and one running.
His numbers might not grab you but Pryor’s production over percentages is ripped right out of the Al Davis book on winning football. The positive s far outweighed the negatives today. For a second forget the stats, all you need to know is the Raiders were trailing late in the second half 24-7 at one point in this contest. Pryor’s clutch play combined with a blocked punt by Coye Francies helped make this one interesting until the end.
When was the last time you were invested in a Raider game from start to finish? Better yet, when was the last time the Raiders had a QB capable of making plays no matter the circumstance?
Good luck getting Palmer to keep a play alive the second the O-line can’t hold its blocks. Today Pryor ran for 49 yards in addition to the 150 he threw for. That’s the type of production an offensively challenged team like Oakland needs in this modern NFL. Especially when Darren McFadden is still being forced to run in a system his talents don’t fit. But that should hopefully change soon enough.
While this season was a lost cause the future looks bright given what we saw today. There was never any reason for the Raiders to be as woeful as they’ve been on offense this year. For all the heat Greg Knapp has taken this season he did do a good job of having his young QB ready to go with a game plan that maximized his skills. Still, it is too little too late.
Going forward it will be on the coaches to develop a scheme that gets the most out of the weapons available. Sticking to some system just because it is has had success elsewhere proved to be one of the biggest reasons why Coach Allen is going into the offseason with a 4-12 record as a head coach. Clearly Pryor can play in this league and there is no reason why he should be buried beneath the likes of Matt Leinart on and NFL depth chart ever again.
So until we see our Silver and Black again let’s, for the moment, enjoy the simple pleasure that is watching one of Al’s handpicked talents show the world there’s still a football pulse in the East Bay. This was a forgettable season but that doesn’t mean there weren’t moments worth remembering. Perhaps we can one day say we remember when Pryor made his first NFL start. That would imply he’s made more since and has found even more success. Hey…hope is all we’ve got…once again…