After a landslide victory for the Philadelphia Eagles, demolishing the Oakland Raiders 49-20, the Raiders hope to get back on track against the struggling New York Giants. The defense of the Raiders was looking as sharp as it has since the Black Hole can remember, though last week’s performance was horrid.
Despite the atrocious nightmare in allowing Nick Foles to etch his name in the history books with a record setting seven touchdown passes, the offense brings upon far more questions of concern. Allowing 49 points is simply unacceptable; however, the defense was a mammoth reason to why the Raiders were a competitive 3-4 prior to the blowout loss.
If I were to give the offense a letter grade on their performance thus far, I would give them a D … and that’s being generous.
I’ll begin with the young leader under center, Terrelle Pryor. The first few games of the season, Pryor looked as if he certainly had the potential to be a franchise quarterback, he was completing close to 70 percent percent of his passes and took good care of the ball.
The Pryor as of late, on the other hand, has majorly struggled. Pryor’s thrown seven interceptions to just one touchdown the past three matchups, while completing a disappointing 53 percent of his passes. Being a quarterback in the NFL is exceedingly difficult; with that being said, Pryor must make major strides in his game as a passer if he wants become a tenable franchise signal caller.
The 24-year-old Pryor is in his first season as a starting quarterback in this league; I take that into consideration. In addition, the offense surrounding him has not helped him much either, which has made it even more difficult on the inexperienced Pryor.
Moreover, the youngster still has ways to go as a pocket passer. He’s an amazing athlete, and incredibly fun to watch, but quarterbacks need to know how to properly facilitate the offense. Running quarterbacks are not going to win many games in professional football, you need someone who has the ability to stand strong in the pocket, make the right read, step up, and consistently make a throw. Duel threat quarterbacks, players who are legitimate threats as a runner and a passer, are some of the most dangerous amongst the league. That’s who Pryor needs to become.
The weight of the offense does not fall entirely on the young quarterback. Pryor has been able to do some great things, without him under center, only God knows how many sacks a stationary quarterback would have taken – possibly an NFL record through eight games. His ability to extend plays and gain massive chunks of yardage with his feet is sensational.
Pryor’s struggles have partly come from the poor play of the offensive line. Nonetheless, the front five is getting healthier and healthier every week. The line has struggled terribly at providing Pryor with a clean pocket to scan the field, largely due to injuries across the board. Fortunately, the offensive line will be the healthiest it’s been all season on Sunday against the New York Giants, with rookie tackle Menelik Watson getting his first career NFL start and Andre Gurode back from injury. It should be a good week to evaluate Pryor as a pocket passer.
The running attack for the Raiders has been virtually non-existent, making Pryor’s life even harder. Pryor has been the team’s best rusher on the read option, or when he scrambles.
An effective run game is crucial, especially for a young quarterback, not only because it helps move the chains, but it sets up the pass game beautifully. Pryor could be a good play action passer with his mobility, though the Raiders haven’t been able to execute the play action the way they’d like due to inferior protection and lack of a run threat out of the backfield. Darren McFadden will most likely not be ready to go Sunday after suffering another nagging hamstring injury, therefore Rashad Jennings will get the workload.
A reliable tight end is indispensable for a quarterback. The Raiders have seen some promise in the rookie Mychal Rivera, yet they haven’t been able to consistently incorporate a threatening tight end in the pass game. Receivers have done an average job creating space off of their breaks, for that’s an area with much room for improvement. The Raiders rank 30th in passing, averaging a low 197.8 yards in the air.
Offensively, Oakland has a tremendous amount of improving to do. We’ve seen the level of defense the Raiders are capable of playing when they’re firing on all cylinders, but the offense needs to make significant strides. Rashad Jennings did play very well last week, rushing for 102 yards on 15 carries and a score. With a considerably healthier offensive line, hopefully the Raiders will be able to pound the ball against the New York Giants.