Exactly How Bad Was Terrelle Pryor?

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Nov 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) escapes from Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Oakland Raiders 49-20. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Eyeball Test

There is absolutely zero doubt that Terrelle Pryor is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league with open field in front of him (just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers). His 6’5″, 232 lb frame accelerates way faster than his long legs would suggest and his sub 4.4 speed gliding down the field is a thing of beauty. He’s no Russell Wilson in the pocket, but he’s clearly more nimble than Colin Kaepernick when it comes to avoiding sacks. It’s here that Pryor draws his distinct advantage over Derek Carr.

The advantage is two-fold. Not only do Pryor’s legs make him more dangerous because of the yards he can pick up via scrambles and designed QB runs, but because they force defenses to commit a man (or at least increased attention) to him which helps open up the passing game.

In 2014, many defenses happily played off ball against Oakland’s offense, opting to concede the underneath passes and short yardage run plays while protecting the mid and long options. This created primarily downhill angles for most of their defenders and severely limited yards after catch.

In 2013, the strategies varied a bit from that philosophy. With Terrelle Pryor on the field, the threat of the QB scramble couldn’t be ignored – especially when the read-option was around its NFL prime. The two prevailing strategies to deal with Pryor were to either suck up the linebackers, or to dedicate one man to “spy” the QB. With linebackers sucked up, they dealt with flatter angles against in-breaking routes, and with a spy the hole between defenders often got bigger. This might account at least partially for the disparity in yards per passing attempt.

Either way, the facts are clear that Pryor was the more dangerous QB with his legs.

The Breakdown

Football Outsiders evaluates offensive line blocking ability with the Adjusted Line Yards metric. This evaluates the offensive line as a whole on all running plays and contextualizes based on situation. PFF grades the team run grade similarly to their other grades, against a criteria for positive impact in the game.

Raiders Run Offense



Adjusted Line Yards



Adjusted Line Yards Ranking



PFF Team Run Grade



As shown, the difference in overall offensive line run performance is small, with a slight nod to the 2013 team. Meanwhile, the PFF team run grade is massively different. Clearly there’s a big effectiveness gap here and these numbers would seem to indicate the offensive line are not the drivers of the big drop in performance between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, the Raiders had Rashad Jennings and more heavily utilized Marcel Reece in the run game, both of whom are absent (or nearly) from the 2014 run game. The question is, how much does Terrelle Pryor’s presence impact this drop performance?

Raiders Top Rushers (2013)



Rashad Jennings



Darren McFadden



Marcel Reece



** Terrelle Pryor **






Pryor favors very well compared to all other Raiders with 10 carries or more. As shown in the chart above, Terrelle Pryor was a very large proportion of the rushing yards for the 2013 Raiders. Especially for a quarterback.

Raiders Top Rushers (2014)



Darren McFadden



Latavius Murray



Maurice Jones-Drew



Marcel Reece



** Derek Carr **






The first thing to pull from these two charts is how many more running plays Oakland ran in 2013 compared to 2014. 76 more running plays. This informs some of the difference in overall volume stats on both ends. While Oakland had almost 800 more running yards in 2013, those 76 run plays lost out to more passing in 2014 which explains some of Oakland’s increase total passing yardage in 2014.

Secondly, Terrelle Pryor was by far the most efficient runner on the 2013 team. His 83 carries for 576 yards amounts to a mind-blowing 6.9 yards per carry, versus the 4.12 yards per carry the rest of the ball-carriers managed. In 2014, the runners averaged 4.01 yards per attempt overall, versus Carr coming in at 3.17 yards per carry. It would be hard to argue that Terrelle Pryor’s absence wasn’t the largest contributor to the drop in running efficiency between the two years.

Next: Conclusions