Sure, jobs are on the line. The fan base is antsy. Patience has been grinded to a nub. But naming Matt McGloin the starter for the remainder of the season, which Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson reiterated this week, equals a missed opportunity.
These last three games should be occasion to see more of Terrelle Pryor.
The thirst for victories in Raider Nation is certainly palpable. But Oakland is 4-9. Any win at this point is like eating crawfish -- tasty but by no means fulfilling. The beast will not be satisfied. So why not opt for development?
First, let's establish what we know: McGloin is not your future quarterback. He's played admirably enough to prove he belongs in the NFL. He's probably even earned the right to be the Raiders' No. 2 next season. But he's not a starter on a good team in the NFL. And I believe that owner Mark Davis has designs on the Raiders being a good team.
No disrespect to McGloin. He's a tough customer who throws a pretty ball. He knows how to play the position. But he's 6-foot-1 with the speed of dial-up Internet. You can't be a pocket passer when you can't see over the line of scrimmage. He's a sitting duck in there, especially when the scouting report catches up with him.
As a short quarterback, you have to be mobile. Scrambling, being able to create extra passing lanes and angles with your feet, is the only way to survive. Ask Drew Brees and Michael Vick. That reality is independent of how well you throw or read defenses, at both of which McGloin has proved to be solid.
He has done exactly what he's going to be able to do in the NFL -- fill in capably for the starter should he get injured. Point proved.
At this juncture, rolling with McGloin reeks of Dennis Allen and his staff trying to rack up as many wins as possible to save their jobs. Smart, perhaps, but not what's best for the -- as Davis put it -- "reconstruction" of the franchise.
Then there's what we don't know: Is Pryor something special?
His last five games have convinced no shortage of Raiders fans the answer is no. But it's almost negligent to write off Pryor's first four starts, when the Raiders went 2-2, including a near-upset in Indianapolis, a respectable showing in Denver and a home win over San Diego.
During those four games, his passer rating was 93.6. And that doesn't count the 229 rushing yards.
Remember that feeling? Was it all a fluke? Or was it the signs he's the latest in the trendy line of running quarterbacks?
Things starting going bad for Pryor at the same time the Raiders offensive line caught the injury big. But now center Stefen Wisniewski is back. So are tackles Jared Veldheer and Tony Pashos. As Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Rod Woodson said, let's see Pryor with the healthy offensive line. Would the Raiders' now-healthy offensive line settle down Pryor, who's taken 29 sacks in nine appearances? We don't know.
There hasn't been enough time to know if he can get better at making his progressions. Nine career starts is hardly enough action to decipher if his arm, which leaves you wanting, will doom him as a quarterback.
"At the end of the day, your experience comes from playing," Pryor told reporters Friday. "That's how you get better, I believe. While Matt's taking his reps I'm in the back acting like I'm under the center taking the reps. I'm still getting the reps, all the reps that he's getting, but he's taking them physically against the defense and I'm back there mentally going through the same progression and working through the progression. That's the things that I've gotta work on, and that's what I'm working on."
Pryor is raw, a project that needs molding and grooming. Some of his strengths will require manipulation from coaches. Some of his weakness need to be ironed out through experience.
But the way he floats out of the pocket to his right and connects on the run. The way he keeps plays alive with his legs. That contagious urgency that sometimes gets him in trouble. It's hard not to wonder if something is there. But the Raiders can't find out for sure if he's getting one random series a game.
That's why it should be Pryor time.
If he succeeds, that means at minimum his trade value increases should the Raiders decide to go elsewhere at quarterback. If he fails, at least you know for sure. And with the last three games being against Kansas City, at San Diego and against Denver, you were probably going to lose anyway.
Raiders quarterback showed glimpses of something special in first four games.
Pryor accepts backup role to Matt McGloin. PAGE 4