By the end of the game yesterday against the New York Giants I was wondering why on earth did they still have Terrelle Pryor in the game. I am not blaming this loss solely on Terrelle Pryor, but I am blaming this loss solely on the offense which he is responsible for running efficiently. He was clearly completely ineffective and it also seemed like he was moving in slow motion. Then we came to find out why he looked so slow after the game and it was because he had sprained his MCL.
At what point did he sprain his knee worse than it already was going into this game and should he have been out there at all? It seemed like Terrelle was a shell of himself for the entirety of this game and he proceeded to play terribly from start to finish. There is plenty of blame to go around for the game, and depending on the answers to the above questions it may be that the bulk of it belongs on the coaching staff.
The other problem when it comes to Pryor is how much of his terrible play the last 4 games has been from injury or personnel issues and how much of it is because of his own abilities? If you listen to some of the comments you would be forced to believe barely any of the blame is on him and it all was on the offensive line. This despite TP holding onto the ball longer than a toddler does his favorite toy.
It is hard to keep having faith in a quarterback who has only thrown 5 touchdowns in 8 games. It is so hard that there doesn't really feel like there is any faith left except for in the hearts of his die hard supporters and even some of those have started to fall of the wagon. How can we keep believing in something that is so abundantly being thrown in our faces to not be true?
It's at the point where unless some sort of miraculous turnaround happens between now and the end of the year that the Raiders 1st round pick next season will indeed be for a QB. Terrelle will still be on the team and he will get a chance to fight for the job with the rookie, but with his performance of late that is all that can be promised for him. Maybe he will end up surprising the world again by holding onto the position but the competition needs to be added via the draft.
Then again we might find out over the next couple of weeks that Matt McGloin is actually the competition all along and maybe he will provide enough that the Raiders wont have to go QB in the first round. The kid has moxie and it looks like he will get his chance to show he deserves his shot on the field after the news of TP's MCL sprain hit the wire. We will have to see how it goes from there. Stranger things have happened, but when it is all said and done I think there will be a lot of talk of next year's draft prospects at QB.
Enough about Pryor and the possibility of drafting a QB early next year though. It is still too early to decide fully on what Oakland will do in the draft next year when they are not even mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. I say mathematically because realistically this loss to the Giants was the final nail in the coffin, but a winning streak could change things. Does anybody really think a winning streak is coming at this time though?
Just when it feels like all hope is lost we get an effort from the defense like what they put on this past Sunday though. It ALMOST makes you forget about the performance they put up against the Eagles, but not quite. Still this season has been awesome to watch unfold on the defensive side of the ball, these guys are playing great and keeping this team in games. No matter what happens Jason Tarver needs to be the defensive coordinator next year.
The Oakland defense has players at every position that are stepping up and making plays. Tracy Porter may have been the best defensive free agent acquisition in the entire NFL, even with a slow start to his career in Oakland. He has become the number one guy that the Raiders need to re-sign out of the one year audition deals signed this past off-season. His interception returned for a TD yesterday was one of the most exciting plays of the year for the Raiders.
Sio Moore is another player who started out slow and has come on strong. He led the Raiders with 8 tackles in this game and he had a sack and a forced fumble to boot. Though he probably will not be able to catch up to Kiko Alonso of the Buffalo Bills for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors there is no question that he has put himself firmly in the conversation. He has been a blessing for this team and has done everything possible to back up his confident persona.
What more can be said about Lamarr Houston? The motor on him is one for the ages, he is just constantly exhausting himself of every ounce of effort in his body. He had 5 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in this game. Those stats don't even tell the whole story. Porter is the number one audition guy that needs to be re-signed next year, but Houston is the number one guy period that needs a new contract. He deserves to be a Raider for life.
There is one other thing that Oakland can not possibly deny any longer even though they have tried for a long time to keep the reality away. Rashad Jennings is the best running back on this team and should be the starter without question. His biggest problem in this game was that the offense stopped going through him, because when he got the ball he made plays. When Greg Olson stopped calling plays for Jennings is when the offense stopped being productive.
As for Greg Olson, something has got to give. Greg was known for being an afficenado of the deep ball and we have yet to see it. It is hard to trust Pryor with anything lately but still he has an arm and he is not using it. Perhaps this is more a problem for the reads by Pryor but its hard to believe that if the number one read was going deep that Pryor wouldn't wing it.
Instead Olson has consistently sent the running back up the middle where the penetration from the offensive line has been non-existent and has had completely unimaginative play-calling. Why not call some more screen passes? Marcel Reece and Rashad Jennings have both shown time and time again that they work. Why not call some quick slant routes and plays that take advantage of the defense's need to watch the backfield for Pryor?
In the end what hurts the most about this game is that the defense deserved a win and the offense did not do anything to help them. This team could have come out and won this game with even a slight resemblance of success from the passing game and instead they got 11 for 26 passes completed for 122 yards. The only touchdown the offense scored was when they started out their drive inside the 5 yard line.
All losses hurt. There is no way around it. Even when its the last game of a failed season a loss still hurts. A loss like yesterday hurts even more than normal though. That was a winnable game that the defense played their hearts out for and it was all thrown away by a sloppy and incompetent offense. Something needs to give because this team needs to show that they are better than this. Maybe the addition of Matt McGloin will be the fix that ails this team, but that would be asking quite a bit of the fates that have long been not on our side.