Last Sunday Terrelle Pryor broke the single game rushing record for an Oakland Raiders’ quarterback, this Sunday he’ll be leading a heavily favored Raider squad against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Coliseum in Oakland.
Although Pryor may be doing so with a heavy heart after turning down an opportunity to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during a lavish ceremony scheduled for the same time slot in Canton, Ohio. One that was supposed to include Nike launching his new “Pryor Pirate Cleats”, a performance by Jay-Z, and closing remarks from President Barack Obama (pending Pryor’s agreement to sign the President’s Bears jersey).
I used to have so much more room on TP2’s bandwagon and now I’m having trouble drawing oxygen on this fully loaded freight train after Pryor’s precocious performance in Indiana energized the Raider Nation, impressed analysts nationwide and inspired Terrelle’s teammates, leaving all parties eager to see more from this special athlete. A young man fighting tooth and nail to seize what may be his last real chance to be an NFL quarterback with every ounce of commitment and purpose he can muster.
Pryor’s not perfect, neither was Michael Jordan, neither am I, neither are you, but it seemed a bit ridiculous that so many people bent over backwards pointing out the things Terrelle couldn’t do, instead of celebrating the myriad of things he can do, especially when he does many of those things like few ever have.
With NFL teams rapidly realizing they’ve been undervaluing mobile QB’s for decades it sounds absurd that the Silver & Black (of all teams) would ever be behind the curve in blazing new ground — and believe me, you can make toast when Terrelle torches the turf.
I was actually a little concerned Pryor had played a bit too well in the gut-wrenching loss to the Indianapolis Colts. As all media outlets have now moved Terrelle Pryor’s name from the “segue to Al Davis joke” column over to the “exciting young athlete who boosts ratings” or “fantasy pickup/Top 10 list subject” columns, and it is those columns that dictate all their coverage.
But Pryor’s statements in the locker room after the game put my concerns at ease, and revealed a quarterback placing all blame for that tough loss squarely on his own shoulders. Setting a tone, being a leader and understanding that starting quarterbacks are ultimately responsible for results, even if they’re 24 years old.
I did awful, I thought. Two interceptions. Could’ve won the game, had them on the ropes down there, winning the game is all that matters to me.
Pryor did not do awful. He will have better games, and he’ll certainly have worse, but most importantly, he’ll be given the time to prove if he can provide a lot more good than bad. He’s already made giant strides with how he carries himself, his work ethic, and Pryor was born oozing poise.
Becoming accurate with the football will be the largest hurdle for him to clear, but he could still be quite dangerous if he tops out at just average accuracy, and I take issue with those who say he makes poor decisions. I think Terrelle Pryor is an excellent decision-maker.
He plays unorthodox and his delivery isn’t perfect but his speed allows him to break rules that less mobile QB’s can’t, and he’s still learning how much trouble his legendary legs can get him out of against NFL caliber athletes, but like many of his shortcomings, this can only be improved through reps and experience.
The fact that Pryor started to open the season was enormous. It’s not ideal the playbook wasn’t designed around his strengths from the start of training camp but there will be ample time to evaluate him while he’s making magic on the field, instead of Raider fans falling asleep while Matt Flynn goes three-and-out. Snooze.
TP is must-see TV.
The man is simply electric, and I could care less if he’s a finished product, give me some sizzle, then observe the offensive players energized by his exploits, the defense feeding off his energy, coach Dennis Allen trying to hide the fact he’s excited, and wait till the Coliseum goes bonkers when their quarterback is tossing Jaguars all around Oakland on Sunday.
He’ll turn it over, he’ll miss some throws, he’ll have growing pains as he gets better, but the Raiders are going to win a few games they probably shouldn’t in 2013 because of their quarterback, and when they do — the man with No. 2 on his chest will give all the credit to his teammates.
The Hall of Fame ceremony will have to wait, but when people tune in for Raider games this year, they’ll do so knowing they may well witness Terrelle Pryor doing things never before seen on a football field.
So find a seat, and enjoy the ride.