Oakland Raiders: Is It a Make-or-Break Year for Terrelle Pryor?
I have written many articles about Terrelle Pryor since the late Al Davis drafted him in the third round of the NFL supplemental draft. Why? Because when you look at our quarterback position, it is hard not to.
When the Raiders acquired Carson Palmer it seemed like another band-aid for the bullet wound that is the quarterback position. Palmer understandably struggled after sitting on the couch for half the season, but began to get some chemistry with his teammates toward the end.
Now it is a foregone conclusion that he is the automatic starter in 2012. If not because he is the best QB on the roster, because he is the highest-paid QB on the roster.
New general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen have verbally given their support to Palmer. To their credit, Palmer is a good quarterback. He is definitely the pure pocket passer that every scout looks for in a prospect. His football IQ is nothing to sneeze at, and I wouldn't be surprised if he got into coaching when his career is done.
With all of those positive traits, I still am not convinced he can be the future of this organization.
Thirty-two is not exactly old, but you rarely see an organization build its franchise around a quarterback at that age. The only example I can think of is Kurt Warner, who had a Super Bowl MVP on his resume. No disrespect to Palmer, but he has yet to even win a playoff game.
This brings me to Pryor.
If you have read any of past articles on Pryor, you know I am a fan of his and believe he has the potential to be the future of this franchise. Despite my optimism, I am going to do everything I can to give an unbiased opinion.
McKenzie and Allen both have given a vote of confidence to Palmer, but there is something about their delivery that says otherwise. It is kind of like they are saying "Yeah, Palmer is a good quarterback, but we are not exactly ecstatic about the guy. We'll keep him around, but only because we're actually kind of stuck."
Maybe that is a little harsh. But that is just the vibe I get.
Then Allen decides to bring back a familiar face in Greg Knapp. a West Coast offense purist who has a reputation of developing young quarterbacks. The West Coast offense is almost dependent on having a mobile quarterback, a trait Palmer does not possess.
Whether it be Steve Young, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Aaron Rogers or even Joe Montana, they all had some subtle moves. Then the Raiders decide to bring back John De Filippo as quarterback coach, whose entire coaching career has been working with young quarterbacks. Plus, he is a young coach himself.
What was seen as a plus for Palmer was the Raiders' decision to retain Al Saunders as an offensive consultant.
Let's look how all these coaching changes affect Pryor.
Will Terrelle Pryor start at all in 2012?
Heading into 2012, Pryor will have an offensive coordinator whose system fits his skill set to the letter, a quarterback coach who relates to young quarterbacks and an offensive consultant who at this point is the only offensive mind Pryor has been around at the pro level, even if it has been only for one year.
McKenzie has preached that there will be competition at every position. Well, Palmer may beat Pryor with his football IQ and experience alone, but if there is any quarterback who will benefit the most from working with this staff, it is Pryor.
Pryor is nowhere near the accurate passer that Palmer is. His footwork needs help and he likely will be on the bench in 2012. But Cam Newton did not get drafted because he was a polished quarterback. Tim Tebow was not successful because he completed 70 percent of his passes. They were successful because there were ready from the NFL game from a work-ethic perspective.
Whether Pryor is just as ready is a question only his heart can answer, but he may only get one shot at his dream of being an NFL QB.
If he can't at least outright win the No. 2 QB spot, and if Palmer goes down with an injury and Pryor can't at least keep the team competitive, the Raiders will not be able to pass on a quarterback in the 2013 draft. There is way too much talent coming out at that position.
So if Pryor wants it, he has to take it.
This is not the same team that it was five years ago. Though the defense is retooling, offensively the Raiders are much better equipped to support a young quarterback. The offensive line is light years better. The talent at running back is stronger, and the Raiders have young receivers who are on the rise.
So Pryor, it is up to you.
You have this Raider fan's support!
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