Throughout this offseason, there has been a lot of encountered opinions about the Raiders QB situation. The debate has changed given that Oakland traded for Matt Flynn and Carson Palmer's exit, but there's a constant that remains: There's a sizeable group of Raiders fans that roots for 2011's supplemental draft pick Terrelle Pryor.
Full disclosure: I haven't been on Pryor's side most of the time, since the argument made by those who support him has been, at best, hopeful thinking and more of a the-other-guy-shouldn't-start than a solid, facts supported endorsement. Then again, Raiders fans should hold themselves to a higher standard than pulling for a player regardless of how does he truly impact the team as a whole, and also should give a fair shot to the player competing against the one they'd rather start, since all of them are part of the organization.
To do my part, I've tried to stay away from just his stat line and watched the former Ohio State quarterback's tape from his first career start against the San Diego Chargers, in last season's Week 17. Here's what I got from it:
Pocket awareness, running, mechanics, throwing, decisions, intangibles,
- There were several more good passes than I remember from watching the game live. Terrelle Pryor actually can get some nice zip on his throws.
- That said, there were a couple of passes that were floated instead of thrown. One of those was to an open Brandon Myers, but the others were risky and could've been intercepted.
- The one interception #6 had, came out of a floater thrown to a heavily covered area. However, this one was different from the other because it came from a failure on his mechanics. To throw this pass, instead of balancing his weight from his back leg to the front one, Pryor made a little jump, relying on pure arm strength.
- Overall, Terrelle Pryor's first half was promising. Specially taking into account the 80 yard, 7 minute scoring drive he led.
- I noticed three mistakes in that half: (a) Pryor had some issues handling himself within pocket blocks. This happened about twice, when instead of taking the lane drawn by blocking to set himself for a pass or a scramble, he took the ball to the defender's side, trying to turn the corner based on his athleticism (it worked one time). (b) For a quarterback whose added value comes from running the ball, there are some issues that could even affect his health. Taking a page from Michael Vick's style, #6 doesn't slide, but rather falls forward. (c) Pryor's support comes in part after a season where read option found its way to the NFL, and his physical skill set does set himself to comparison to quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. However, there's more than athleticism to run the read option: Oakland's QB failed to read the defensive end both times the offense ran it (and also, Darren McFadden's lack of patience is a problem to make it work, since it involves zone blocking elements).
- Poor decision making. At the end of the first half, an ill advised run and an unfortunate slip cost the team 3 points. He also had a bad decision later, which costed him an illegal bat penalty.
- Inconsistency. If the first half was overall good, second half was far from that. Inaccurate and some bad throws at the beggining of the third quarter and during the fourth, by overthrowing or putting the ball behind his receivers. However, Pryor's best throws came in this half, including a third and 10 conversion with Brandon Myers and a long pass to Rod Streater.
- He always looks to make the play, which can be good and bad at times. There were times that he could've thrown the ball away, but instead threw bad passes (however, he had a tremendous almost-completion with Denarius Moore extending the play running for his life and with great footwork)
- Something I noticed that was a constant, is that he doesn't guide his receivers with his arm, thus not giving them the opportunity to take more yards after the catch. The floaters, late throws, going after double and triple coverages, and to-the-player passes hinder the receiver's ability to make a big play (which impacts Pryor's yardage total, as well). Also, puts them in harms way.
- The intangibles department certainly has some impressive feats, trying to get Goodson out of a brawl and urging his players to get to the line of scrimmage after a good play. However, the second half comeback attempt isn't a point to make here, since he needed a great special teams play to get to the red zone (the previous drive was completely ineffectual).
After this, I'm sticking by my guns with Flynn. Our new #15 can take #6's first half and replicate it in the second with no problem. However, I'm more at ease with Terrelle Pryor as a solid backup and an eventual starter if Flynn falters, and wouldn't be surprised if he's the guy in 2014, since all his flaws can be corrected and he has shown good quarterbacking skills, and hence, he owns them.