The P-word has been attached to Pryor since Rivals rated him the nation’s best high school football recruit in the class of 2008. Those expectations didn’t follow him to the NFL. That’s why his 329 yards from scrimmage in a 21-17 nail-biter against the Indianapolis Colts were so surprising.
Pryor notched his first win as a starting quarterback in a 19-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but he must improve in several areas for the Raiders to be able to compete with the Broncos. Here are the keys for the QB in Week 3.
3. Forcing Defenses to Respect Legs
Pryor has rushed for 162 yards this season. One can’t ask for more on the ground from a quarterback, but he must maintain his effectiveness against a Denver defense superior to what Oakland has faced thus far.
He not only has to make up for his own flaws as a passer—he threw for just 126 yards against Jacksonville—but so that defenders are forced respect the bootleg and stay home, opening up rushing lanes for the Raiders’ halfbacks as a result.
2. Taking Care of the Football
Turnovers were one of the greatest differences between the Raiders’ win over the Jaguars and loss against the Colts. Pryor threw two interceptions in Indianapolis. He and Jeron Mastrud secured his two fumbles vs. Jacksonville.
Denver has already forced six turnovers this season. With Eli Manning throwing four interceptions and Joe Flacco two, odds are that Pryor won’t finish the game without one.
The key is not making a habit out of it. Peyton Manning doesn’t need the opposing offense to help him embarrass the opposing defense.
1. Finishing Drives in the End Zone
Three of Eli Manning’s four interceptions were in Denver territory on Sunday. Those are missed opportunities. Oakland can’t miss opportunities if it wants to upset the Broncos.
Sebastian Janikowski attempted five field goals against the Jaguars, bringing his total to seven attempts on the season. Denver’s offense has scored 11 touchdowns already. It finishes in the end zone.
While taking care of the football is a must, so is making calculated risks. The Raiders must be bold in their efforts to continue drives and that starts with Pryor.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.