Carson Palmer vs. Terrelle Pryor: Who Should Be the Raiders' QB?

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 25, 2013

Carson Palmer vs. Terrelle Pryor: Who Should Be the Raiders' QB?

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    For many Raiders fans, the moment that they have been waiting for may have finally come.  Terrelle Pryor has been given the opportunity to compete with Carson Palmer to be the starting quarterback for the Silver and Black.

    Head coach Dennis Allen said while at the Senior Bowl, via the San Francisco Chronicle, that there will be a competition for the job during the offseason.  

    With the position battle officially underway, let's have a look at the cases both for and against Palmer and Pryor. 

Why Carson Palmer Should Start

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    Carson Palmer is coming off a 4,000-yard season with a passer rating of 85.3, so you know he can still play at a high level.

    The Raiders offense was one-dimensional with the way Greg Knapp's schemes crippled the running game, which forced the Raiders to throw often.  

    Considering that Palmer was as good as he was under the offense of Greg Knapp in 2012, he should be expected to do even better as the Raiders shift back to a power offense with the hiring of Greg Olson.

    Olson should be able to get Darren McFadden back to his 2010-11 self by bringing back the power-blocking scheme that led McFadden to average 5.3 yards per carry for those two seasons.

    Getting McFadden back into form will make it that much better for Palmer to throw deep off of the play-action fakes they will surely utilize.  

    Palmer is the most experienced option the Raiders have to start under center for 2013.  He has started all but one game since coming to Oakland in 2011 and that lone missed game was because of injury.  With all those starts since coming to Oakland, he has good chemistry with the receiving corps.

    Speaking of that receiving corps, Palmer is the perfect quarterback to throw them the ball deep down the field so they can turn up their speed and leave defensive backs in the dust.  Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore should all benefit from Palmer being the starting quarterback and the return of the deep ball to Oakland.

Why Terrelle Pryor Should Start

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    It's time for Terrelle Pryor to start for the Raiders.

    Take a look around the NFL and you will see teams going to the playoffs with offenses built around quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson—not to mention Colin Kaepernick going to the Super Bowl.

    Not that the Raiders need to transfer their offense to the pistol or zone-read, but the point is that Pryor gives the Raiders a solid threat to run at the quarterback position.  That threat sure would have been helpful in 2012 so that defenses couldn't just watch for the pass.

    Pryor has shown the leadership to start by famously throwing teammate Mike Goodson out of a scrum that hit the Raiders with a 15-yard penalty in San Diego.  Even the fiery Bruce Gradkowski didn't do that.

    Pryor also put up decent numbers when he made his first career NFL start in that game at San Diego, as he totaled three touchdowns (using his legs and arm)—a performance which ended a touchdown drought that the Raiders offense was stuck in.

    If Pryor is given the first-team reps in practice for the offseason, training camp and preseason games, just imagine how good he will do as the starter in 2013.

Why Carson Palmer Shouldn't Start

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    Palmer's career is on the decline.  He is 33 years old and he is not aging quite like a fine wine.  

    Palmer is not as mobile as Pryor, and behind the Raiders offensive line you're going to need some mobility to buy time if you still have Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes responsible for your pass protection.

    Palmer also throws interceptions at costly times, such as when the Raiders' comeback attempt against Tampa Bay fell short when Palmer was picked off in the red zone with 2:30 or so left to play.  

    That loss to Tampa Bay put the Raiders' record at 3-5 and sent the team into a six-game losing streak that doomed their 2012 season.  It is worth noting that Palmer started every game of that losing streak.

    Palmer may have thrown for 4,000 yards, but that was mostly garbage-time stat-padding with defenses playing in prevent coverage waiting to go home with a win.

    Even if Palmer were still playing in the form he was in before his semi-retirement in Cincinnati, he is still not the future of the team being 33 years old.

Why Terrelle Pryor Shouldn't Start

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    Because Pryor is still young and inexperienced, he is prone to rookie mistakes.  

    The best example is in the picture for this slide when he slid down in bounds just before halftime in San Diego.  With no timeouts left the clock expired, and sure enough the Raiders lost by a field goal.

    Even if David Akers was the kicker, Pryor needed to get out of bounds so the Raiders could try to get three points.  Especially when Sebastian Janikowski is your kicker, a few yards aren't going to make a difference for him.

    Pryor also appears to be lacking in the arm-strength department, as many of his passes seemed like a lob that you would see in a game of three flies up.  He needs to add some zip to his passes. While he had just one interception against the Chargers, if he were playing a better defense he would have had some interceptions with some of those lobs he threw.

    With Greg Olson as the new offensive coordinator, Pryor will need to work on his arm strength for those deep passes.

    Another knock on Pryor is his chemistry with the receivers.  Palmer simply has Pryor beat just because of how much more playing time Palmer has over Pryor.

    Pryor may be the future for the Oakland Raiders, but that future is still a year or so ahead.

Carson Palmer's Rebuttal

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    Palmer may be aging, but with all the rules to protect the quarterback in the NFL, Palmer could be in the NFL until he's Brett Favre's age.

    With that age comes experience that you can only get by playing in the NFL for as long as he has.

    While Palmer may not be the threat to run that Pryor is, Palmer showed he has some agility as he dodged numerous sacks to keep plays alive.

    As for the amount of interceptions he threw (14), with the amount of times he had to drop back and throw because of how far behind the Raiders were early in games, 14 interceptions looks deserving of an MVP trophy.  

    Palmer still completed 61 percent of his passes and reached the 4,000-yard milestone that only the 2002 NFL MVP, Rich Gannon, had done before in Raiders history.  

    Garbage time or not, that is impressive.

Terrelle Pryor's Rebuttal

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    All of the aforementioned problems with Pryor can be solved by playing time and more first-team reps in practice.

    With more playing time, Pryor won't be so prone to rookie mistakes. With more practice on his passing he can add that zip to his passes.

    Pryor can be an especially good fit for Greg Olson's offense with the receivers going deep, because even if Pryor can't throw it that far, he can take off and run while all the defensive backs are 30 or more yards down the field.

    Whether or not Pryor's time is now, the Raiders can't do much worse on offense than in that 4-12 season they are coming off of.

The Verdict

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    For the 2013 NFL season, my pick is that Carson Palmer is going to start.

    It's one thing for Dennis Allen to say it's an open competition, it's going to be another for Pryor to go out there and beat out the veteran Palmer.

    Also, a few days before the competition was declared by Allen, new offensive coordinator Greg Olson said, courtesy of Paul Gutierrez of, "I see a very good quarterback in Carson Palmer that still has years left. So I'm excited about him and the way that he's played, and the history that he's had in this league."

    When asked about Pryor in that same interview, Olson said Pryor is "still down the road a bit. I haven't had a chance to watch a lot of tape, but I will when I get back. But certainly, with as athletic as he is, there should be some things that he'll be able to help us (with) down the road as well."

    I won't rule out a terrific athlete like Pryor, but at the moment it appears that the job is in the hands of Carson Palmer.