The Oakland Raiders have been largely ignored by the national media leading up to the NFL preseason. Very little other than the occasional Darren McFadden, Charles Woodson, or Matt Flynn quote would come out of the national media unless it was another preseason Power Rankings post labelling the Raiders as the worst team in the NFL (remember how fun that was guys?)
So it was surprising to see ProFootballTalk laud Terrelle Pryor’s play on Friday night in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys. Pryor registered a solid performance at the O.co, going 6-10 for 88 yards and looking much more comfortable in chewing up big yardage than the dink and dunk first quarter under Flynn that garnered just one field goal.
Despite throwing a red zone interception that foiled a chance to further pad his impressive preseason debut, Pryor looked similar to what he showed when he compiled an eye opening performance against the San Diego Chargers last season. Something that caught the eye of PFT’s Josh Alper.
Pryor was 6-of-10 for 88 yards in two series at the helm for Oakland in a performance that had both high and low points. The first saw him run for 31 yards on three carries as the Raiders showed read option and pistol looks to good effect and the threat of Pryor’s running also helped Rashad Jennings find gains. It ended when Pryor threw across his body into the end zone for an interception by Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox.
Pryor should have thrown the ball away, but the second drive showed more positive signs. The Raiders got the ball with 41 seconds left in the first half and Pryor completed three straight passes for 54 yards to move the Raiders into field goal position. They settled for the field goal after Pryor threw the ball away rather than repeat his earlier mistake, but Pryor looked comfortable running the offense on both drives and the read option plays made it easy to see why the Raiders want to install a package of plays for Pryor.
Sometimes as a beat writer/blogger or fan for a team it is hard to forget that outsiders don’t have as much information on all 32 NFL teams as a person who dedicates the majority of their time on the happenings of one particular team. It is a positive sign in Pryor’s development that those outside of the Raider circles notice that he is coming along when he does get into games.
Whether or not Pryor’s increase in media coverage will heat up the quarterback battle under center remains to be seen and is unlikely as it appears that the Raiders have their hearts set on Matt Flynn. Flynn is Reggie McKenzie’s guy and has much more experience and confidence from the coaching staff despite having just one more start than Pryor. Dennis Allen is a play it sage kind of coach in many respects, which plays right into Pryor’s hands.
It does need to be said that Pryor did march the Raiders down the field with much more ease compared to Flynn, using the package of plays that Greg Olsen has geared towards his strengths with impressive effectiveness. Yes, Pryor did throw a red zone INT, but it was a product of trying to go out there and make a touchdown after making things happen all the way down the field to get to that point. Flynn was also sacked and fumbled the football in his turn in under center.
Albeit the performance was against Dallas’ second string defense, Pryor’s performance definitely converted a good portion of people who have been doubting him for much of his pro career. Fitting seeing as the entire team silenced a lot of doubters around the league, particularly those on a national level, in winning their first preseason game Friday night. Only time will tell if those converted Pryor doubters will lead to more time on the field under Greg Olsen’s offense for the Raiders intriguing backup quarterback whose potential grows each time he steps onto a football field.