Last Sunday, the Oakland Raiders mirrored the disastrous offense of a season ago.
The Raiders starter behind center, Terrelle Pryor, was unable to play after suffering a concussion in Denver in week three. Reports claimed he was able to go the night before the match up, but shortly after he showered concussion symptoms in which kept him sidelined.
For those of you who witnessed Matt Flynn orchestrate undeniably the most catastrophic offense of the season, I need to say no more.
The Raiders have had a problem with slow starts through the first three games, but last Sunday that was not the issue. Shortly after a blocked punt in the first quarter that led to a Raiders score, backup quarterback Matt Flynn drove the ball down the field, finishing the drive with an 18 yard touchdown reception to tight end Mychal Rivera.
Oakland had looked spectacular at the start of the game. They were playing with a sense of urgency, an enormous amount of energy, and the offense moved the ball incredibly well on the first drive of the game.
Then, disaster would arise. Running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece, two of Oakland’s workhorses and play makers offensively, would suffer early injuries that kept both backs out of the game. Without Pryor, Oakland needed a big game out of their star running back. McFadden carried the ball just five times, but recorded 29 total yards.
I don’t think anyone in the right mind expected Flynn to have a good game on Sunday. I expected him to struggle, although I thought with the help of McFadden and Reece, Flynn would possibly be able to grind out a victory. Once the two superstars went down, Flynn’s game swiftly went down with them.
Besides the great start to the game, the Silver and Black struggled to get anything going offensively. The offense was completely out of rhythm and stayed that way throughout the course of the game. RGIII and company slowly began to fight their way back, while Oakland’s offense was busy bringing back the nightmares of last season, resulting in Raider Nation to crash to the ground in agony.
The loss of McFadden and Reece hurt terribly. However, the Raiders were ultimately missing the guy that does virtually everything for them offensively, without a question their MVP. Number two.
Pryor is as valuable to his team as any other player in the league.
Okay, fine, maybe not at the value level of a player like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Though Pryor is extraordinarily meaningful to Oakland, and without him on the field on Sunday’s the Raiders are no longer improving threats. They become undeniably one of the worst teams in the league.
It’s simple. When number two is out on the field, the Raiders are threats offensively. Without him, they’re arguably the most unproductive offense in the league. The explosiveness of Pryor alleviates the poor play of the offensive line, and at times the play of Oakland’s young, inexperienced wideouts.
One thing Pryor does not receive enough credit for is his ability to feel pressure. When the pocket begins to collapse, and pressure comes from his blindside, Pryor quickly feels the rush coming, and smoothly starts to wander outside of the pocket, always keeping his eyes down field. Now he has the threat of running. The youngster is one of the fastest and strongest quarterbacks in the league. The former buckeye recorded an astonishing 4.38 40 time on his pro day. He is 6’5, 230+. Let that sink in for a minute.
Not to mention, Pryor has made dramatic improvements in his game as a pocket passer. He has shown the ability to step up in the pocket, find the open man, and deliver a good ball. Each week he seems to be making improvements in the pass attack. The last game he played, against Denver on Monday night, Pryor recorded a career high passer rating of 112.4. The young talent completed 67.9% of his passes, throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown.
Pryor is emerging as one of the players to watch out for with his explosiveness and improvements in the pocket. He is indisputably the most valuable player on the Raiders, as the game against Washington proved everything. Raider Nation could be sitting at 2-2 if Pryor plays that game, instead they’re 1-3, and have to face a extremely hot Phillip Rivers this Sunday.
Hopefully Pryor can bounce back on Sunday and lead the Nation to a victory. After the performance against Washington, a W is indispensable for the Raiders.