During training camp when Terrelle Pryor opted to don the number 2, it immediately brought up some bad memories of the last player to wear that number for the Raiders - JaMarcus Russell. Now his name is uttered again for more than just his number.
The initial thought when Pryor chose to go with his former college number was that if anyone could take the stink off that number, it was Pryor. He has all the work ethic Russell never had and as far as playing style, the two couldn't be more different.
Over weeks 3-5 of this season, Pryor looked on his way to putting the stigma of the number two well in the past. He showed great progress in his pocket passing, and showed enough flashes to help lead the Raiders to a win over the Chargers in week 5. But since then, he has had numbers that the Raiders have not seen since the former number two took the field.
Over the past four games, Terrelle Pryor has had a passer rating of 42.0 (45.7, 25.7, 55.7, and 40.9) with 1 passing touchdown to 8 interceptions. The last quarterback to have a four-game stretch that bad was JaMarcus Russell who had a passer rating of 41.2 (47.6, 46.0, 22.6, and 48.5) over the first four games of the 2009 season.
During those four games, Russell threw for just one touchdown to four interceptions. That's half the interceptions Pryor has had over these past four games. And like Pryor's last four games, the Raiders actually won one of those games as well -- 13-10 win over the Chiefs.
Not only is that the worst passer rating over four games since Russell, those two instances were the only ones in nearly 50 years in which a Raiders quarterback had a passer rating that low over a four-game stretch.
To find a worse four-game stretch in a single season by a Raiders quarterback, you have to go back to 1964 - the Raiders' fifth season of existence -- when Tom Flores had a passer rating of 27.8 from the second game of the season thru the fifth. He attempted just 60 passes in those four games, completing 24 passes with no touchdowns to 7 interceptions.
Even the other Raiders QB number 2 - Aaron Brooks -- didn't have a stretch like this in his disastrous single season in Silver & Black. Brooks was plagued by what is still considered arguably the worst offensive line in Raiders history that season. He played in eight games and finished the season with a passer rating of 61.7 and outside of the game in which he went out with injury after two run plays, never had less than a 49.9 rating that season.
The one thing Pryor obviously has that Russell didn't have is athleticism and the rushing yards to prove it. But lately those rushing abilities have worked against him. He is too quick to flee the pocket when even the slightest pressure is put on him and reverts to the skills that got him through college. But this isn't college.
In the NFL the quarterback must put the ball in the air. Passer rating isn't everything but it is still extremely important.
Over these past four games, the only game the Raiders won was against the Steelers in which after the Raiders took an early lead, they took the ball out of Pryor's hands and rode the defense to a close victory. They escaped by the skin of their teeth, as they say, and yet the coaches felt like if they had remained aggressive by having Pryor go to the air, he would have given the game away.
He had already thrown two interceptions in the first half and the coaches weren't eager to take that chance again so they opted for the less risky option of having a worn out defense that barely edged out the Steelers despite a 21-3 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Pryor now has 5 passing touchdowns to 10 interceptions on the season. He threw just one interception Sunday after having thrown at least two in the previous three games (3 against the Chiefs in week 6), but that interception was one of the most costly of all. It is what ultimately decided the game. The Raiders were nearing field goal range and would have been at least a 9-point lead. The interception resulted in a Giants touchdown and a 1-point deficit.
The Raiders wouldn't score another point in the game and Pryor finished 11 of 26 (42%) for 122 yards and a passer rating of 40.9. He also added a fumble late in the game.
The season in which JaMarcus Russell had his lowest point was his last in the NFL. It will take a major resurgence from Pryor to pull out of the tailspin he's been in lately. Not even Russell had a five-game stretch at Pryor's current rating.