The era of thinking Matt Flynn might be an NFL starting quarterback — yes I’m going to call that an era — has poetically ended with the Oakland Raiders. For an organization that’s struggled desperately to find its franchise quarterback since Rich Gannon‘s body quit, this latest high-profile passer grab already seems doomed.
Enter new starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who actually gives the Raiders more of a wild-card quality than your typical 5-win Vegas-projected squad. As we saw with Tim Tebow across the division in Denver, a savvy running quarterback can get by with extreme accuracy issues under the right circumstances. These are probably not “the right circumstances,” and no Von Miller-type talent ostensibly lurks on the other side of the ball.
However, there’s enough talent in the backfield with Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece and Rashad Jennings that a run-heavy offense and stingy defense could scrape out six to seven wins playing in the AFC West. I am not at all predicting that; just saying that the upside of Oakland naming Pryor quarterback is much higher than with an underwhelming drop-back passer like Flynn.
This mix of rookie and low-priced free agents might even be scrappy enough to field a decent unit. I am not expecting them to be dominant enough to drag a horrific offense to much more than two wins, but maybe not a bottom-ten unit. If Sio Moore, Kevin Burnett and Nick Roach can gel quickly then this linebacker unit isn’t half bad, while Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson could benefit from playing next to each other at safety.
Having said all that, this could well be the league’s worst offense paired with a middling-at-best defense.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 2-14 (4th in AFC West)
Predicted Finish: Miss postseason
More of Thomas Emerick’s 2013-2014 NFL team predictions: NYG | WAS | PHI | DAL | GB | CHI | DET | MIN | TB | ATL | NO | CAR | SEA | SF | STL | ARI | NE | MIA | BUF | NYJ | BAL | CLE | CIN | PIT | HOU | IND | TEN | JAX | DEN | KC | SD | OAK