At What Point Must the Raiders Bench Carson Palmer, Give Terrelle Pryor a Shot?

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 14:  Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 14, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders may have a quarterback controversy on their hands between Carson Palmer and Terrelle Pryor after a lethargic 1-4 start to the 2012 season. 

Palmer was brought in via trade and has since made the Raiders competitive, but not great. After a 1-4 start, good for third place in the AFC West, fans may be calling for Palmer to be benched in favor of the untested Pryor.

Pryor joined the Raiders courtesy of the supplemental draft and has yet to see significant NFL action outside of the preseason. He's an exciting prospect because of his speed, but at what point should the Raiders make a change, if at all?


Carson Palmer's ceiling in Oakland

Palmer has not been horrific, but the Raiders are simply not winning games. In five games Palmer has thrown for 1,434 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He's not causing Oakland to lose games, but he certainly is not propelling the Raiders to victory either. 

After a crushing defeat in Week 6 to the Atlanta Falcons, Palmer admitted to being the reason Oakland lost (h/t

We had a great game plan, and I let the team down, I let the fans down...Making the mistake I made was crucial. It's my fault...There are no moral victories in this game. There's wins and losses, and that's a loss. It's on my shoulders.

The issue for Palmer is that he is simply not efficient or athletic enough to succeed in offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's vertical-oriented offense. 

Palmer is not getting any younger at 32 years old, so allowing him to play the entire season while losing does not make a lot of sense for Oakland if he cannot improve. 


Terrelle Pryor's fit in the Offense

Although Pryor is unproven at the NFL level, he may be a better fit for the Raiders offensively thanks to his outstanding athleticism. He may not be the most prolific passer, but he could be a faster version of what Tim Tebow was for the Denver Broncos last year. 

Pryor wasn't horrible this preseason in four games, throwing for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He had a 92 passer rating and used his athleticism to also post 121 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

The versatility provided by Pryor may be just what the doctor ordered for the Raiders. His ability to run in any situation should provide him with wide open vertical passing lanes. 

He's not proven, but he may be a better option than Palmer at this point. 


When to Give Pryor his Shot?

The Raiders are turning out to be one of the worst teams in the NFL so far, and that may or may not change with Pryor at quarterback. 

It's a safe bet to assume that the inexperienced Pryor won't fare much better, but the Raiders organization has to take a chance. Palmer is not the future at quarterback for Oakland, but simply a band-aid.

Pryor needs to be the starter once the Raiders are officially out of the postseason and divisional race—which will be sooner rather than later. 

Oakland may or may not have their franchise quarterback with Pryor, but the worst-case scenario is that the Raiders discover he's not the answer, and he leads them to a poor record and one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation when the 2013 NFL Draft rolls around.