Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has made remarkable progress over the first five weeks of the regular season. He has gone from arguably the biggest question mark on the roster to the team’s unquestioned best offensive threat.
Pryor has been quick to credit offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach Mark DeFilippo for the improvements he’s made. His timing and comfort level with wide receiver Denarius Moore and Rod Streater have been even more vital in Pryor’s development.
During the offseason Pryor and Streater spent much of their time at a local junior college, working out together. The duo went to Los Angeles together to continue their workouts and also went to beaches and area gyms, all the while working on their timing.
While there, the Raiders quarterback and wide receiver developed an uncanny, unspoken bond that has transferred onto the football field.
That was clear during Oakland’s first two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars. Whenever Pryor got in trouble and was forced to scramble out of the pocket, Streater frequently bailed him out by adjusting his route.
The two got so good at working together that whenever Pryor took off running to the left side, Streater would break off his pattern to follow the quarterback. If Pryor stopped and cut back to his right, so did Streater. If Pryor reversed his direction and went back to the left, so did Streater.
It wasn’t until Moore caught on that Pryor’s passing efficiency really took off.
The third-year receiver, who caught 84 passes in his first two NFL seasons, caught five passes in the season opener against the Colts, then was shut out by the Jaguars the following week. He finally got going in Week 3 against Denver, when he caught six passes for 124 yards.
That game seemed to open the floodgates for Moore, who has since emerged as the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver.
Pryor’s comfort level with Moore has also emerged with each passing game.
During Oakland’s 27-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 6, the duo hooked up for a two-yard touchdown pass. It wasn’t so much that they scored on the play but how it went down that was most significant.
Pryor took the snap from center and sprinted out toward his right while Moore, lined up on the right side, took off into the end zone on an out pattern. As Pryor pulled up near the sidelines, he noticed Moore standing at the back of the end zone and gave a quick shake of his head toward the left. Moore saw Pryor and took one step in that direction before the quarterback fired the ball in for a touchdown.
Later in the first half, Pryor was forced out of the pocket and was sprinting toward his right under heavy pressure when Streater adjusted his pass pattern and got open for a six-yard completion.
Plays like those are becoming more common the more Pryor and his receivers work together.
“I think that Denarius is starting to get a feel for it,” Pryor said of the unspoken communication. “Defenses are going to cover things up, so (receivers) know that if things are covered that they are going to have to start working with me.”
So far it’s been a plan that has worked out quite well for Pryor, Moore, Streater and the Raiders.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.