One question looms larger than any other for NFL franchises, and even though Terrelle Pryor is the only Oakland Raider who can provide the organization a clear answer, there’s very little chance the 24-year-old quarterback will be able to do so this season if Matt Flynn is under center on opening day at Indianapolis.
Should acquiring a franchise quarterback be the top priority this offseason?
Matt Flynn can’t answer that question, because he’s simply not a long-term solution, and Pryor won’t have enough time to offer a concrete answer either way if he isn’t given double digit starting opportunities in 2013.
It’s been said, “If you got two quarterbacks, then you ain’t got none”, and this QB duo has done nothing to dispell that eloquent logic.
After the first preseason game I felt Pryor had inserted himself in the QB competition, as Flynn’s defenders fawned over his awful performance in New Orleans I explained “How Terrelle Pryor Outplayed Matt Flynn While Throwing For Nine Yards”, because he did, but I still have no idea if Pryor will become a quality NFL starter, and more importantly, neither does the Raider coaching staff.
Perhaps it says more about the current roster than these QB’s that the most contentious subject among the NFL’s most vocal fan base revolves around overstating the abilities of two flawed QB’s with three NFL starts between them?
I think Pryor’s the better option right now, especially with shaky protection. He clearly has more upside, and whatever his limitations, opposing defenses must scheme for him, and spend time game planning for his rare athletic gifts.
I don’t think the Raiders’ record will be much different, no matter who’s under center. So why is it so critical for Terrelle Pryor to be starting on opening day?
Because that’s the only way to get the most complete answer on the key question: Should acquiring a franchise QB be the Raiders’ top priority this offseason?
Having a franchise quarterback is a binary condition, similar to being pregnant, you either have a QB or you don’t. But it takes a lot more than 10 minutes in the bathroom to find out if you have a quarterback, and watching a career backup who’ll be 29 in 2014 throwing check-down passes on 3rd and long won’t help the Raiders know if they have a starter on the roster.
And Pryor won’t prove anything in the 4-8 starts people are suggesting he’ll get in 2013. He’ll show some promise, some very rough edges, and the Raiders won’t know what they have at year’s end. It’s barely enough time to notice Pryor was brazen enough to claim his college number just as soon as the Raiders let him, symbolic of the fact Pryor exudes confidence found only in athletes that have been special their whole lives — he could care less about what or who JaMarcus Russell ate while keeping his No. 2 warm for him, he’s Terrelle Pryor, who the hell is J-Rock?
Starting from day one would allow Pryor to play through mistakes, exhibit leadership or intangibles, and face game situations that can’t be replicated. And he’ll either : A) Prove he’s definitely not an NFL QB. B) Demonstrate potential as a No. 2 QB who should be groomed further. or, C) Make it clear he’s a viable option to start in 2014.
But what if the coaching staff ends the season wishing they had a few more games to evaluate him, or Pryor is an NFL starter but wasn’t given time to prove it? Forcing the Raiders to spend a high draft pick or big money in free agency on a position they didn’t need to. (While Pryor’s chance happens elsewhere).
Or, what if the Raiders are near the top of the draft and the QB position is muddled? The Raiders could be forced to pass on someone like Jadeveon Clowney, and draft a QB they don’t consider the best player on their board (and we’re back to JaMarcus). There are very few difference makers on this roster, this offseason will be an opportunity to add as many as three or four.
If its clear Pryor isn’t a starter, the Raiders can draft a franchise QB, or pursue someone like 2014 free agent Jay Cutler. If Pryor proves he should be given a shot in 2014 the Raiders are then in the best position possible, an option wholly unavailable if Pryor doesn’t get sufficient starts. They could draft whomever they want, or even upgrade at QB (and this scenario means Pryor has trade value). And the beautiful thing about having a thin roster is that you can make decisions without being a slave to need – if you’ve addressed the QB position.
I understand talking about next offseason before this season has even begun frustrates fans, but the 2014 offseason will prove far more important to the Raider franchise than the 2013 regular season, and ignoring that fact won’t make it any less true.
GM Reggie McKenzie sacrificed any chance of competing this year so the Raiders could fix their salary cap while holding onto draft picks. Shrewd moves that should allow the Raiders to be proactive this offseason, aggressive in free agency if need be, and make decisions from a position of strength for the first time in what seems like forever.
Raider fans are pressed against the glass, drooling over a tantalizing smorgasbord featuring $70 million of cap room and a talent-rich 2014 NFL Draft, which should lead to gorging on the fruits of their freckled GM’s patience, and watching a significantly better football team next year. And now you want to relinquish the opportunity to realize every advantage of all these painfully long and boring roster revisions — just so Matt frickin’ Flynn can start in 2013?
I don’t frickin’ think so.