Jun 11, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterbacks Matt Flynn (15) and Terrelle Pryor (6) throw passes at minicamp at the Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders: Who Starts at Quarterback?

Who was the last team that went from two Heisman trophy winners at the same position to zero?

Ding, Ding, Ding, winner, winner — that’s right, the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders are now a team without a seasoned veteran at the helm of its offense.

But things happen — look at the 49ers and Seahawks last year. Both teams started young QBs that took their respective team into the playoffs. One almost pulled off the trifecta by wining the Super Bowl.

Three professional athletes at QB, and four starts in the NFL between the three of them. Thing usually come in threes: a triple play, a trifecta, a hat trick, 3 Stooges, 3 Blind Mice, 3 Wise Men, 3 Ring Circus, and finally, 3 Little Kittens That Lost Their Mittens.

Let’s do a triple take at the Raiders’ quarterbacks and see what we can come with.

Matt Flynn

Jun 11, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn (15) throws a pass at minicamp at the Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Has played behind some outstanding NFL quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Russel Wilson. His potential is unlimited, but his performance is minimal.

Flynn has one thing to do, and that is to win football games. To do that, he will have to gather the team to put them in a position to win, not only on the scoreboard, but also on the field — as well as off the field. Flynn will have to become a leader. He will have to get the team’s respect, and to do that, he has to give respect.

The Silver and Black have been lacking a leader since Rich Gannon. What you liked about Gannon was that he encouraged everyone to be a leader — it wasn’t just his show. With the Raiders trading or leaving major players at the bus station, Flynn has an opportunity to start fresh.  He doesn’t have to worry about an angry mob in the locker room questioning his decisions or actions.  He has to have the team respect his efforts.

Flynn has to come in and do everything better than Terrelle Pyror and Tyler Wilson.

Come early, stay late. Extra time with his position coach, working with receivers. It’s all about what you do on the football field and what type of impact you can make. Your team wants to see your work ethic.

Right now, Flynn has the edge. Reggie McKenzie said previously that Flynn is the “presumed starter,” and we highly doubt there’s anything the quarterback could do in the offseason that would change that.

Terrelle Pryor

Dec 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

I have the utmost respect for Pryor as an athlete; he can do many things for the football team. His foot speed is high on the “OMG” meter. A 4.42 40-yard dash is fast for any player in the NFL. Mental and physical toughness are a plus in the positive column for Pryor.

What Pryor is lacking is decision making skills, leadership qualities, as well as pinpoint accuracy.

Pryor’s skill set has not improved greatly from his days at Ohio State where he ran before he threw. His fleet-footed speed gained him many yards while opening multiple passing lanes. Pryor’s ability is popular currently in the NFL, as running QB’s are rare. Lets look at a few.

  • Michael Vick (2006): 1,039 yards and a 7-9 record
  • Michael Vick (2004): 902 yards and an 11-4 record
  • Cam Newton (2012): 741 yards and a 7-9 record
  • Cam Newton (2011): 706 yards and a 6-10 record
  • Colin Kaepernick (2012): 417 yards and a 7-3 record (as a starter), lost to Baltimore in the Super Bowl.

Only one of the fleet-footed QB’s have been to the Super Bowl. Not one has won a coveted championship ring.

Pryor has shown well in the preseason and yes, he has had limited starting experience, which should calculate into dynamic play on the gridiron with all the education he has been gaining on the sideline.

Yet, it doesn’t.

His only start in the NFL was a wash; he completed 46% of his passes, two of which were for touchdowns, and he also scored on a short TD run.

He threw for 155 yards against a San Diego Chargers team that was done, in the dumpster, out with last week’s news. They were about to fire their GM and head coach. It should have been a walk in the park and a chance for Pryor to shine and win a game for the Raiders.

That didn’t happen. Pryor’s inaccuracy was evident, his leadership skills were lacking, and the decision-making was sophomoric. He did not play up to his potential. The Raiders should be concerned about Pryor’s ability as a pure passer.

Some games are not for you to win, but for you not to lose. Pryor did not put the Raiders in a position to win.

This is why he is #2 on the Raider depth chart at QB.

Tyler Wilson

Jun 11, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Tyler Wilson (8) throws a pass at minicamp at the Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A young gun with an arm of steel. This young man holds 29 records at the University of Arkansas. Before the 2012 college football season, Wilson was projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft by Sports Illustrated.

Wilson is a pocket passer that will remind you of Gannon, Lamonica, and Stabler. But  unlike the above mentioned QB’s, Wilson has seven 350-yard passing games in his colligate career. He comes to Oakland with nothing but success in his pedigree.

His kryptonite is that he is not picking up the system as quickly as hoped. Head coach Dennis Allen has maintained that Wilson has “a long way to go” as far as learning the offense, saying so during Week 1 of organized team actives, Week 2 of organized team activities and again after Day 2 of minicamp.

How long it takes Wilson to get comfortable with the offense — and the offense to get comfortable with him — is still a huge unknown. Oakland’s offense asks the quarterback to do a lot at the line of scrimmage, so the offense isn’t going to be watered down just because Wilson is a rookie.

If Wilson can prove his mastery of the playbook, the Raiders will eventually be forced to give him his chance.

Wilson is fearless, and showed that after he took shot after shot last year delivering the pass to his receivers. Wilson will gain a lot of respect, but will not stay healthy taking that kind of punishment at the NFL level.

Wilson will one of two things — continue to be a lion tamer until one of the lions get to him too many times, or he can control his toughness and let it work for him against his opponents.

Doing too much usually ends up into doing to little. If he can play within his boundaries and level of skill, it will improve his status with the team and get him his chance to play in the NFL.

#3 on the chart: Tyler Wilson (but not for long)


Three QB’s, three different styles — and each with the tools that will allow them to be successful at the helm of the Raider offense. Matt Flynn with start as the No. 1, and  Pryor will back him up.

But don’t be fooled. Tyler Wilson is no slouch and will jump to number two, and have Flynn eyeing the depth chart daily.

The one thing the Raiders don’t need is a QB controversy. Whoever earns the mark of starter should start until he is physical incapable of starting.

Going back and forth has never been a winning idea, but the idea of the Raiders winning is a great one.


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