Terrelle Pryor had a fair shot with Oakland Raiders but did not show enough


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.

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  • JoeJoe

    Finally a coherent article. At the beginning of last year, I had high hopes for TP. He did well in the first few games, but as the defenses adjusted, his lack of quick reads and poor pocket awareness regressed tremendously for some reason I still can’t figure out. He also threw the coach under the bus about his injury, I wish he would consider wr with the Raiders. If not, farewell and best to you.

    • James Arcellana

      Very well put. Totally agree.

  • David

    I think for Pryor….he had a fair shot considering how he was viewed around May. With the acquisition of Flynn and Tyler Wilson most considered Pryor a 3rd stringer or likely cut. Somehow he battled his way into a starting job. McGloin is just a more naturally talented passer than Pryor. However, I’m not sure they’re “that” much different in terms of quality of QB. There was a time when Pryor was on pace for 3000 passing and 1000 rushing. However, he injured his knee against the Eagles and the rest is history. The Giants game exposed how awful Pryor can be without his athleticism. But before being hurt……It was his confidence that was hurt during the 2nd half of the Chiefs game. After the 1st half he had 90+ QB rating on the season…..from then on his pocket presence, passing became a disaster. Pryor needs to improve his football IQ if he wants any shot to stay in the NFL.

    • James Arcellana

      Agreed. I don’t think either guy has proven enough to be a starter and both have potential. Just making the point that at the time the coaching staff gave McGloin a shot at starting, it just made sense. He was playing well and looked to give them the best chance at winning. When defenses figured him out, they gave TP one more chance to start. I think Pryor has a ton of talent and is very hard working, but he responds horribly to pressure and completely regresses. If he can get past that, he could be very good. The Raiders just dont have time to wait for that.

  • Raul Vasquez

    Hit it right between the eyes……I too wanted TP to succeed so bad. He’s a good individual and well mannered. But like the article states we Raider Nation need a spark of a victory and he gave it to us at the start of the season just to fizzle away..Coaches never want players to fail. That’s just straight out ridiculous

  • mike civitano

    He didn’t even dress for the first two seasons for games. Twice was thrown into the fire with only a package of plays. I don’t think the coaches wanted to see him fail but I also don’t think he was ever an option to be the franchise QB. Saying McGloin had the hot hand is laughable. 5 interceptions inside his own 20 in 6 games is not a hot hand. He did help show that the receivers are improving with all the jump balls they caught. I think Pryor will prove us all wrong. He gave up when he came back from the knee injury and lost his job.

    • James Arcellana

      Hot hand at the time he took over, not at the end of the season after he had played six games. When TP was healthy, MM had just thrown three touchdowns against the Texans. The decision to start him was going with the hot hand that had just thrown three touchdowns in a game.

  • StevenC

    Trade Pryor to the eagles for Desean Jackson. Eagles need a running backup QB since Vick left….dont you Philadelphia….

  • TJA

    James : Your article is well written and the product of lucid thought relating to TP. What everyone forgets is he is only 24-25 years young. I do not mean to suggest he will be a great NFL QB. Remember , a fella named Steve Young struggled his first few years . Again do not mean to suggest TP is another Steve Young . I do feel he is better than Vince Young , Seneca Wallace, Thaddeus Lewis, and others !! Let’s give the kid a break and hope if he is traded or released things work out for him as a player and person .

    • James Arcellana

      Oh I am not trying to be harsh on TP at all. I think he has amazing athletic skills and really hope he finds success. Id love to see him switch positions or go to the CFL and try to hone his talents as a QB. I just don’t think the Raiders were unfair to him, he needs more time than they can give him. Just the nature of the win now culture in the NFL

  • TJA

    One closing note on TP. How many NFL or for that matter Division One college QBs can run 93 yards unmolested for a TD? Food for thought !’

    • cknott007

      Thats why he should change positions TE or WR. Why is everyone including TP stuck on being a starting QB

      • dahbone1

        If Russell Wilson had come to the Raiders with this ineptitude coach…he’d either be leaving–like Pryor–or being discussed by those who have bought the MCKENZIE-ALLEN narrative… it’s about everyone else but the coach…and to a lesser degree… the formerly too insecure to hire a REAL coach GM, Reggie McKenzie.

        • Walter Spargo

          That is by far the dumbest thin I’ve ever heard and the product of a bad attitude caused by years of losing.

          To say that the coach is inept is a bit harsh considering what he had to work with. If you think that any GM could come into the salary mess that RM inherited and field a winning team then you are either delusional or you know nothing about football. Just keep watching what this team does over the next 2 seasons and you will learn.

          • Corporate_Raider

            Pryor is a great athlete but he plays QB like he’s playing basketball … he thinks you can move around forever until somebody comes open. You have 3 seconds. Pryor is a great athlete and we all wanted greatness from him but 3rd-and-48 (or whatever it was) is not greatness.

            Terrell … stay in Oakland and switch to wideout. You could cream all those corners who are smaller and slower than you. YOU WOULD BE GREAT!!!

        • Walter Spargo

          That is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and the product of a bad attitude caused by years of losing.

          To say that the coach is inept is a bit harsh considering what he had to work with. If you think that any GM could come into the salary mess that RM inherited and field a winning team then you are either delusional or you know nothing about football. Just keep watching what this team does over the next 2 seasons and you will learn.

          The rest of your responses clearly indicate that you are bitter with a closed mind. If you really feel that way and aren’t willing to have a little faith and give the rebuilding phase we have finally entered, then go root for another team.

          • dahbone1

            Team WILL do better…hell, was doing better BEFORE Allen and his ineptitude…if not mistaken–was 8 wins with both prior coaches… McKenzie learned a few things working with the Packers… his only real big mistake…(he made some little ones)…was hiring Allen–and i understand why. He was new and didn’t want an experienced coach to over-shadow or, basically… challenge him. You can invoke all the “dumbest” dramatics you want… Pryor is better than McGloin…and better than the coach who made a BUNCH of mistakes in working with this young man. All i said was i hope this talented young fellow gets with a team who’ll work with what he’s shown to be superior Gifts… and help him be his best. He won more games than McGloin and Schaub last year… and that is with a lousy coach on the sideline. So…you keep insisting you know he’s no good. Easy for you sitting with your probably fat butt on a couch, somewhere… Here’s hoping the young man finds a team and coach so he can continue on the path started long ago in Pennsylvania. You’ll do like all big mouth haters… find another gifted athlete to demean their talents…

          • dahbone1

            Oh…and Wally…you DO win… i am going to retire raider gear i have worn damn near every day—i even held on for the two years Allen has been here…holding my nose because i think the guy is a putz. But enough… loving, having PLAYED and knowing the game, it bothers me to see a bunch of better coaches lose their jobs and others not find work when this clown slides because he can manipulate the weak-minded into just blaming the players… the situation… and on and on… Bear Bryant said it best to one coach who was complaining about the talent Bear had… “I could take you’rn… an’ you could take mine… and i would STILL beat your ass”… Allen is that loser coach. And you’re right there with him.

  • Tom

    James: great article.

    When the raiders acquired TP they knew that he was going to be a work in progress and was given the time to develop into a NFL level quarterback. I believe his starts early in the season put the opposing defenses on their heels. After defenses adjusted to TP’s running abilities it then became up his to use his arm to win games. This clearly failed for him. I saw good mechanics early on, but as the season went on and pressure on him mounted he reverted back to sloppy technique. What I saw was something common among rookie quarterbacks and unfortunately given the amount of time invested in him I was hoping for better.

  • dahbone1

    Pryor suffered in the end because of a lousy coach who should be leaving instead of him. McGloin can’t carry his jockstrap and those throw it up and get lucky a Raider receiver comes down with it will show even MORE interceptions and losses… Hopefully, Pryor will go to a team who can work with his exceptional Gifts… and he comes back AGAINST the Raiders… as the Cam Newton type he is… AND KICKS THEIR BUTTS… BAD! Hopefully, Allen will get fired.

    • Corporate_Raider

      Dude … Pryor played like crap. No matter what you say all the QBs had the same coaches and McGloin outplayed Pryor. So … if Allen is a crap coach as you say and Pryor played poorly because of poor coaching but McGloin outplayed Pryor with the very same coaching the conclusion is McGloin is better.

    • corporate_Raider

      Pryor at QB: 3rd and 48 because he holds the ball and runs backward.

  • dahbone1

    Why do these news fellas tie the fate of McKenzie with Dennis Allen? McKenzie has had his mis-steps… Allen being one of them. Okay…Reggie was new and brought on a new kid who would not challenge him. Done. Kid showed in 2 years of on-the-job training that he wasn’t the best choice… even as a newbie. But it’s time to get an experienced coach, Reggie. Don’t be afraid to go for someone who can get the most out of the players you’ve FINALLY moved in the right direction on. Now…you need a Bill Cowher, Lovie Smith (you blew that one), Andy Reid (blew that one)… or one of a bunch of other fellows who are and have proven themselves head coaches who can get to the big one… and have chops to win. You’re HOPING this guy has learned enough at the expense of the team and the fans to swing it. NO!!!!! Not the way to do it. He is no John Madden. You need a coach who can coach these vets you’re bringing in… and not someone HOPING it’ll all work out…and the talent and assistant coaches will carry. You DON’T have Peyton Manning. You HAD a potential Cam Newton in Pryor… and this guy Allen has, essentially, screwed this young man up trying to figure out how to coach. Kawakami….QUIT TYING REGGIE MCKENZIE to this fellow… Allen is an assistant who should still be with Broncos. My fear is that the talent McKenzie and young Davis have assembled might stick us with this fellow… and boom… we do well enough to keep his job…but what is missed is that if we had a real coach… we could’ve done better. I think that has already been proven over the last 2 years. Rehire one of the last 8 win guys… at the least. Bring Hugh Jackson back. Go after Jon Gruden… go after a top winning college coach… who’s run pro style offense and had big game success. But we are going to lose where we could have won…already have… and all we’ll get is more blame, more excuses… and more ruining of player careers because the doggone coach is not the best coach a once-upon-a-time new and learning GM hired as his new coach… so he would NOT be over-shadowed. Over. You’ve had experience, Reggie…now challenge yourself and hire a coach who can lead men to be and do their best… unquestionably. GET AN EXPERIENCED OR PROVEN COACH! You owe it to the supportive fans. It’s their team, too.

  • Rodney Best

    Your article leaves a lot of holes. TP had to throw 100 more passes and the offense line became injuried . Case and point the leadership of the coaching staff was bad. They cried about the players all year. Well this year we will see. TP will fine his success and better not be Denver