The Jacksonville Jaguars probably didn’t think they’d be spending their Week 2 preparation focusing on Terrelle Pryor, but if the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback keeps turning in dynamic dual-threat outings like he did in Indianapolis, every opponent from here on out is going to be game-planning for the man in Silver & Black with the No. 2 on his chest.
At this stage it’s obvious the best thing Pryor does is use his feet. He uses them to run, to extend plays, to create passing lanes, and to make his opposition look like 9th graders running around in quicksand. I’m sure you’ve seen it, just like Raider offensive coordinator Greg Olson:
I just think it’s a different mindset for everybody and every position — wide receiver, certainly, offensive lineman, certainly. Where’s he going to be? He’s not a pocket drop-back passer. That’s not his game, and we certainly don’t want that to become his game right now.
As athletic as he is, we embellish and appreciate that part of Terrelle Pryor. Everyone is on their toes. When he does create, it creates excitement. I think the players feed off of it as much as the fans do.
Sunday will be Pryor’s first regular season start in Oakland, and with the A’s headed toward playoff baseball there could be additional Raider home games on the dirt in 2013. This article asks whether the unsightly infield dirt of the Coliseum will change the way Pryor operates or make him less effective. (I’ve included photos where he’s changing direction and pressuring his footing).
Pryor has played well during some preseason games in Oakland, but he played only portions of that small sample of games, and most of his best plays came on the grass or running away from the dirt.
Many people know that Pryor ran a ridiculous 4.38 in his 40-yard-dash, he’s 6’4”- 6’6” tall (depending on who you believe), and weighs nearly 240 pounds. But Pryor’s not just a straight-line runner doling out nasty stiff-arms, he’s also elusive — and he’ll be juking Jaguars come Sunday.
Pryor regularly asks more out of his cleats and their contact points with the ground than many of the NFL’s best athletes.
I have few facts (I do know Pryor wears Under Armour Highlight football cleats, and Jag kicker Josh Scobee was crazy enough to “piss off” Seabass talking about the Coliseum dirt and the A’s).
But I am worried this issue will pop up at the wrong time or give the 24-year-old QB something to think about other than making his play calls, finding his reads — and pulling disappearing acts.
Building a new stadium and why Darren McFadden hasn’t blossomed are two different columns entirely, but I do distinctly remember the equally explosive DMC tripping on cuts in the dirt, and he’s 20 pounds lighter than Pryor. The dirt shouldn’t present much trouble for either player on read-option runs, which only require reading the defensive end and running to daylight.
I’m much more concerned about the dirt’s effect in situations where Pryor is at his most dangerous. And that’s passing plays.
Designed throws are when he freelances like a football-toting Fred Astaire, shrugging off defensive linemen before taking off for big gains. Scrambling is also where he does much of his damage in the passing game, defenders simply can’t cover long enough, and others lose discipline.
“Where it gets into a lot of the exciting stuff is when I take off and start to make a play, and that’s just reaction,” Pryor said. “If nothing’s there with the reads, just react and go make a play.”
Losing his footing while freelancing could lead to sacks, errant throws, and being forced to tuck the football, and if the dirt gets in his head that would be the worst of all worlds. Pryor does his best work when he’s playing free and confident — if he’s frustrated by the playing surface he won’t be at his best.
One thing I failed to mention is that those defenders chasing Pryor will be on the same dirt. I still think overall it’s a little bit of a negative for Pryor to play on the dirt, if for no other reason than he’s learning the position and he doesn’t need any more external factors.
It is likely there will be a few plays where the dirt will play a role, but I also think Pryor has proven capable of adapting and playing through adversity.
I’m not sure that I have proven anything. But I can tell you two things for certain.
Terrelle Pryor is going to win his first game as a starter in the NFL on Sunday.
And it’s going to be exciting.