They also left open the door to doing it again.
In the most revealing interview about the topic since it happened, Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson said on Thursday that playing Pryor in the first quarter was done in order to provide a spark to the running game, not because of anything starting quarterback Matt McGloin did or didn’t do.
Olson also said the move would have happened no matter what the situation was, even if Oakland was up 14-0.
“We were going to try and cheat and find a way to get some explosive plays,” Olson said.
While on the surface that sounds legitimate—the Raiders were down to their fourth-string running back against the Jets—the fact that Pryor spent the remainder of the game on the sidelines makes no sense if what Olson said is true.
Did the Jets do such a good job stopping Pryor that the coaching staff was convinced it was a bad plan? If so, what had they seen on tape that made them think it was a good idea in the first place?
Olson told reporters the plan was to go back to Pryor, but that the game dictated otherwise. Head coach Dennis Allen, however, never once mentioned that being a possibility when discussing the subject with the media.
Whatever was behind the move, it clearly blew up in the Raiders’ face.
McGloin, who seemed more than a bit miffed when he was taken out, especially for someone who allegedly knew it was coming beforehand, was picked off on his first pass attempt upon returning to the game.
In fact, it took McGloin a few series back under center before he felt comfortable again. By then, the Raiders were in a big hole and were forced to play catch-up.
After the game Oakland’s decision to briefly rotate its quarterbacks was a hotly debated topic by fans and the media. Some felt the team should never have brought Pryor into the game, while others were of the opinion Pryor should never have been taken out.
Regardless of the motive or the mini-controversy that it created, the Raiders are adamant that they will keep it a part of their game plan over the final three games of the regular season. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen with either quarterback.
Olson addressed the notion that having two quarterbacks available does give the Raiders one advantage:
The one thing that comes out of it, obviously, is (defenses are) going to have to prepare for it...It’s not an easy way to do it, not a lot of teams have done it or see it in the NFL, but when we’re in the situation we’re at, we’re looking for playmakers on that particular day. With where we were at, we felt like it might be something that we need and we also know that the three remaining opponents that we have, whether we do it or not, are going to have to prepare for it.
Maybe that’s why the Raiders aren’t tossing in the towel on Pryor just yet.
At this point, Oakland needs whatever advantage it can get. By having Kansas City, San Diego and Denver spend even just a few minutes in practice preparing how to defend Pryor, it takes their full attention off whatever else Allen’s team might do.
A better alternative might be just to use Pryor in whatever capacity possible. He’s the best overall athlete on the roster, remains one of the top running quarterbacks in the NFL and has some definite talent the Raiders can exploit.
Oakland could line him up in the backfield, split him out wide as a receiver for a possible double-pass, or they could just send him out in a pass pattern.
Either way, it would be a far better solution than what went down against the Jets.
*All information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.