Although it’s been pretty clear for weeks now, the Oakland Raiders finally know what their biggest need is heading into the offseason: finding a quarterback not named Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin. That point was driven home emphatically during the team’s Week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Making his first start in nearly two months, Pryor looked like a novice swimmer who was pushed into the deep end of the pool. He stumbled, he fumbled, and for most of the game, he bumbled around the field while drawing a cascade of boos from the hometown fans.
That he threw for a pair of who-cares touchdowns in the fourth quarter after the Broncos had taken their foot off the gas pedal or that Pryor broke Rich Gannon’s single-season franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback hardly seems to matter.
In what was ultimately a final audition for the starting job in 2014, Pryor fell flat on his face.
He didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers, but a majority of the problems the Raiders had throwing the ball rested squarely on the quarterback’s shoulders. Pryor, himself, said so.
“I would say I’m inconsistent. Period,” Pryor said in the quiet of the Coliseum interview room. “I’ve got to get better.”
Whether or not he gets the chance to try to improve in Oakland is the big question.
The former Ohio State star had quite a week that began with his agent accusing the Raiders of trying to set him up to fail by starting him in the final game of the season after he had been out so long.
Pryor refuted the report but knows his future with the Raiders is anything but guaranteed.
“I don’t think that right now is the time for that,” Pryor said. “We can talk as the season goes on with the organization and have a chat. I just want to enjoy my teammates in the locker room. Right now I don’t think is the time or place to be (talking about it). I don’t know what the future holds. It’s really not my call. It’s Mr. Davis, Reggie’s and (coach Dennis Allen).”
Whether the Raiders bring Pryor back next season or they cut ties to the final draft pick made by former owner Al Davis will be one of the top storylines following Oakland in the offseason.
McGloin, who was benched against Denver after going 1-5 in the previous six games, isn’t the long-term answer either.
Although he initially showed good moxie and poise, he seemed to regress over the past few weeks while the losses piled up as he ran the offense. He threw at least one interception in five straight games and committed five turnovers alone in a Week 15 loss to Kansas City.
Both quarterbacks have many of the same problems.
They each have a tendency to overthrow open receivers. McGloin has a better touch for the deeper passes, but like Pryor, he has a tendency to lock onto a receiver early in the progression which makes it easier for defenses to react to.
If there’s one area in which Pryor is head and shoulders better than McGloin, it’s in the running department. He led Oakland with 49 yards rushing against Denver, giving him 576 yards for the season. That broke Gannon’s old mark of 529 set in 2000.
It just wasn’t enough to make up for Pryor’s shortcomings as a passing quarterback.
McGloin is the better pocket passer, but he, too, has several weaknesses that hindered his development and the development of Oakland’s offense.
The truth is that, at best, Pryor and McGloin are decent backups. Each player is still very raw in terms of development, and they both need plenty of work to become even average quarterbacks at this stage in their careers.
The Raiders, a franchise that has suffered through 11 consecutive non-winning seasons, don’t have time to wait around. It’s time to turn the page and find a new quarterback.