The biggest non secret in the NFL received a little more steam today. Everyone around the Oakland Raiders knows that the team was very unlikely to keep quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the roster for the 2014 season. Not only did the coaching staff seem underwhelmed by his talents on the field but there was also the fiasco with his agent and rumors that the Raiders have been shopping him this offseason.
Now, with the trade for Matt Schaub as well as the announcement that he will be the Raiders starter in 2014, the Raiders leaked news that Pryor has asked that the Raiders trade or release him. Even though no move has been made, it is all but official that Pryor will not be wearing silver and black next season. The Raiders would have likely been happy to have him go through training camp and compete for a back up spot, but with Pryor clearly not wanting to be there, they will move on as well.
But this piece is not to discuss where Pryor may land or what, if anything, the Raiders may be able to get for him in a trade. This piece is to discuss the rather disturbing trend in Raider Nation associated with Pryor.
Anyone who spends a large amount of time interacting with Raiders fans on Twitter knows that there are those who believe Pryor was treated “unfairly” by head coach Dennis Allen and company. Not only that, many took the path of Pryor’s agent and argue that Allen wanted Pryor to fail.
Both of these notions are ridiculous.
To start, let’s talk about the idea that the Raiders were unfair to Pryor. First and foremost it should be noted that this is the National Football League we are talking about here. Fair is not what matters, winning is what matters. This isn’t little league, not everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season.
Plus, there is simply no validity to this argument. Pryor started nine games for the Raiders in 2013 while Matt McGloin started six with the final remaining game having Matt Flynn as the starter. That means Pryor was given more than half of the season as the starter. During that time he threw one less touchdown than McGloin and three more interceptions.
Before getting hurt and giving way to McGloin as the starter, Pryor had thrown one touchdown and eight interceptions in his previous four starts. While he came out of the gates strong, Pryor faded fast and regressed to a much worse player than he had been to start the year. McGloin getting the nod to start had nothing to do with being unfair to Pryor and everything to do with the Raiders coaching staff going with the hot hand.
Would it have been nice for Pryor to have had a chance to work his way out of what became a series of poor starts? Sure. But again, I point you to the fact that we are talking about the NFL. The Raiders did not have time to let Pryor work his way out of the slump, especially after McGloin showed so much in his first start. After watching Pryor fail to throw a touchdown in three straight games and only throw one in four games, McGloin threw three touchdowns in his first start.
Pryor has never thrown three touchdowns in one game.
Like it or not, fair or not, starting McGloin was the right decision. He was playing better football than Pryor. He did things Pryor couldn’t and the Raiders saw receivers Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and tight end Mychal Rivera all benefit from McGloin’s play. Some claim that Pryor could have done the same, that McGloin had better offensive line play and that Pryor won more games.
First, it should be noted that the “better offensive line play” is a questionable argument to be made. McGloin was getting the ball away much quicker than Pryor (who had a bad tendency to hold onto the ball) ever did. It wasn’t even close. Things go both ways in this league, good offensive line play does help quarterbacks. But at the same time, quarterbacks who hold onto the ball too long make offensive linemen look bad by forcing them to hold onto their blocks for more time than is reasonable.
A large part of why the offensive line looked better with McGloin is because they did not have to hold their blocks very long on pass plays.
The other part of the story that many conveniently leave out when discussing the McGloin/Pryor dynamic is that McGloin played when the Raiders defense had gone from a top 15 unit to one of the worst in the league. During Pryor’s early starts, the defense was playing very good football. During McGloin’s starts, the defense was playing terrible football. If you are going to claim he had better line play but won less games, you need to take into account the fact that the defense was responsible for a large part of many of those losses.
The next argument is so ridiculous I am not going to spend much time on it. To think that Dennis Allen or any of the coaching staff or front office wanted Pryor to fail is one of the stupidest conspiracy theories out there. Coming off of a 4-12 season in 2012, the Raiders coaching staff and general manager were on the hot seat before the 2013 season even started. Every one of those guys wanted nothing more than to win as many games as possible. To think that Allen would prioritize hoping a player would fail over winning games simply makes no sense.
Want some proof? Think Rolando McClain. Now THERE was a guy who Allen did not get along with. There was a guy that Allen had animosity towards. How did Allen handle that? He benched McClain, moved him to scout running back where he spent all practice being hit by his former defensive teammates, then cut him from the team.
If Allen wanted Pryor to fail, we would have known it because he would have made it clear like he did with McClain.
I completely understand liking Pryor and wanting him to succeed. I was a major fan who wanted nothing more than for Pryor to be the future of the Raiders. If he could get the passing game down, his legs and athleticism would have made him one of the most dangerous weapons in the league.
Who on Earth would NOT want that?
But he has been in the league three years now and was given an opportunity to start. There is nothing unfair about what has happened to Pryor. He had a shot and was unable to capitalize. Sure he may still develop into a better player than he showed himself to be in 2013. But the Raiders do not have time to wait for that. They needed an NFL caliber starting quarterback and neither Pryor nor McGloin is that right now. They both have potential, but potential does not win games.
Pryor wants to be a starting quarterback and he believed he was more likely to earn a starting role elsewhere. He could have stayed and competed in Oakland but would rather play for another team.
This is how the NFL works, players do not get handled with kid gloves. Hundreds of players every year are asked to perform on bad teams and without any help around them. Lamarr Houston played on a bad defensive line and was still one of the more dominant run defenders in the league. Rashad Jennings ran behind a terrible offensive line and found success.
Pryor was not treated unfairly and no one wanted him to fail. He just did not do enough to earn the job, plain and simple.