Why Raiders Must Temper Expectations from Terrelle Pryor

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Why Raiders Must Temper Expectations from Terrelle Pryor
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders got their first win of the 2013 season, and they didn’t need a Herculean effort from quarterback Terrelle Pryor to get it.

That was big because a week after nearly rallying Oakland to an upset over Indianapolis with his breakout performance in the opener, Pryor wasn’t nearly as impressive against a Jacksonville team that might be the worst in the NFL.

It’s an up-and-down trend that should probably be expected from the young quarterback, and it’s also a good reason why the Raiders might want to temper the expectations they have for Pryor.

 “Listen, everything we do with Terrelle is a growing process," coach Dennis Allen said after the Raiders’ 19-9 win over the Jaguars on Sunday, as reported by Raiders.com. “That’s what you deal with with young players. He happens to play a position (where) there is a lot of learning that’s involved. Every play that he plays, every snap that he takes, is a learning experience for him.”

Jacksonville did a good job limiting Pryor’s effectiveness in the air and did just enough to slow him down on the ground.

He completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for a mere 126 yards, though to be fair Denarius Moore dropped the only two passes thrown his way. Pryor was also sacked three times and had a mediocre rating of 76.0.

No big deal there since passing has never been Pryor’s strong suit. His completion percentage against Jacksonville (62.5) was only slightly lower than his mark against the Colts (65.5).

At times it did get ugly, though.

On a 3rd-and-6 play from the Raiders’ 34-yard line, the snap from center Stefen Wisniewski sailed through Pryor’s hands and the ball landed well behind him. Granted, he made a heck of a play just to retrieve the ball before the Jaguars and to throw an incompletion, but it was a mistake that could be critical against better opponents.

Pryor fumbled a second time after getting sacked just before halftime, but tight end Jeron Mastrud recovered to preserve a scoring drive.

In the third quarter, Pryor, with the aid of running back Darren McFadden, marched the Raiders down to the Jaguars’ 14-yard line. On 2nd-and-9, Pryor dropped back to throw, but the ball slipped out of his hand while his right arm was coming forward and, fortunately for the Raiders, was ruled incomplete.

Even running the ball, Pryor wasn’t as crisp as he was against the Colts.

He ran for 50 yards on nine carries, including a super 27-yard quarterback keeper in the first half, but Jacksonville made it an emphasis to contain Pryor as much as possible.

The flip side to that is that it helped open the door for McFadden’s best game since Sept. 25, 2011. While the Jaguars were taking away the edges to prevent Pryor from busting loose, McFadden rushed for 129 yards, keying a ground game that tallied 226 yards altogether.

Raiders.com reported Pryor saying, “That’s why I believe he had a great day. Guys were over-shifting big time on me. We were running the ball well so as a quarterback I didn’t have a lot of opportunities. But at the end of the day we got a win.”

One of Pryor’s best moments against Jacksonville was a play in which he didn’t even have the ball. McFadden took a handoff and got hemmed up near the line of scrimmage, then broke to his left into the open field. Pryor sprinted ahead of McFadden and blocked a Jacksonville defender out of the way, allowing McFadden to gain 26 yards before fumbling near midfield.

Pryor also led the Raiders on five scoring drives, and just as important, avoided the critical, costly mistakes that doomed the team in its loss to the Colts.

So while it wasn’t all that stellar of a performance, it wasn’t a complete wipeout either. And in the end, the Raiders won, which is more than they did when Pryor played better.

It’s a tradeoff both the team and the quarterback will take.

Michael Wagaman is an Oakland Raiders Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. 

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