Reports have been flying since earlier this week that Terrelle Pryor has been named the Raiders starting quarterback. Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano, doesn't have the luxury of assuming those reports are correct. He must prepare for the possibility of facing either Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor.
Some teams have set quarterbacks in place. Indianapolis is one such team with Andrew Luck as the surefire starter. The Raiders have to try and take every possible advantage by not officially revealing who they will be starting on Sunday.
"Obviously if you know who the guy is, and that is the guy, like our situation, if you reverse the roles it's a little bit easier," said Pagano. "You deal with it and you get the plays in that you think you're going to see from both guys. We know both guys are capable and we know both guys can beat you. We'll do our due-diligence throughout the week and remaining days in preparation for the game and whoever lines up under center. . . we'll be prepared and be able to do the best we can against them."
The Raiders used this in their favor in last season's finale in San Diego when they sprung the decision to start Terrelle Pryor over Matt Leinart of the Chargers. This caused the Chargers to scramble a bit as they were not properly prepared for a quarterback with the mobility that Pryor possesses. The Chargers still won the game, but Pryor helped make a game of it.
Pagano has no doubt studied that tape as well as the tape of Pryor this preseason. Pryor had an up and down preseason but the threat he provides is well known at this point.
"The guy is an excellent athlete; a big, strong guy," said Pagano. "He's mobile, has arm talent, can make the throws, can throw it a country mile. I know they're running some read-options with him. That poses a whole other set of circumstances and difficulties, as far as being disciplined on defense and handling read-options. With him on the move, they do a great job of Terrelle moving him around in the boot and things like that. You drop back to pass, and if you're not disciplined, if it's not there for him, he'll take off and you've got to be disciplined with your pass rush guys of containing this guy. He's a heck of an athlete and he can create plays; he can scramble to run and he can scramble to throw the thing down the field. We definitely have our hands full."
The misconception here is that Pryor is the only one of the two quarterbacks who offers something the other team has to make extra preparations for. Both quarterbacks offer a specific set of skills that are also very different. That means the Colts have to really open up the defensive playbook and be ready for a vast set of possibilities.
This isn't like two seasons ago when Hue Jackson was playing games with the media as to whether he would start Carson Palmer or Kyle Boller because in that instance he split reps and neither option was properly prepared. In this case, the Raiders know who is starting (and we're pretty sure it's Terrelle Pryor), so it's just gamesmanship now. I doubt it will work, but he's gotta try.