Not many people could have guessed that Terrelle Pryor would beat out Matt Flynn this past preseason for the Oakland Raiders’ starting quarterback job. Even GM Reggie McKenzie was caught off guard by the third-year passer’s sudden success.
“From a standpoint of taking this offense, what [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen] has done, yes,” McKenzie said when asked if he was surprised by Pryor taking over for Flynn. “I mean, he’s come in… to compete and learn this offense, and he’s taken it and he’s done a good job. I’m pleased. Very pleased.”
And for good season…
Although the stats haven’t been amazing, Pryor has been a sparkplug for the Raiders’ offense. Whenever Oakland needs a big play, Pryor has been the one to put the team on his back. Touted by analysts and fans for his leadership and will to win, the traits have been as plain as day since he took over as the Raiders’ starter. Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars, who couldn’t overcome the athletic passer in Week 2.
So far this season, Pryor has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 343 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 73.1 passer rating. His bigger impact, though, has come on the ground, where he’s amassed 162 yards on 22 carries (7.4 yards per carry).
That ability to create sparks with his feet is what has the Raiders – and Raiders fans – so excited about a season that many dubbed a lost cause before Pryor became the starter.
“I think he energizes more than just the fan base,” McKenzie said. “He energizes his teammates and anybody that’s watching. Everybody likes to see big plays. And he’s a big-play guy.”
For now, the Pryor show has been working well for the Raiders. With help from Darren McFadden, Oakland has fielded the top rushing attack in the NFL through two weeks. However, heading into a Week 3 matchup with the red-hot Denver Broncos, Pryor and the Raiders offense could hit a brick wall.
Up to this point, they have yet to face a team anywhere near as talented as their AFC West rivals. The Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the league and the Indianapolis Colts squeaked out a win after a last-second interception courtesy of Pryor. Neither pales in comparison to the loaded Broncos team that they must travel to Denver to face. It’ll be a true test of just how good (or bad) the Raiders will be this season.
Regardless of what happens against the Broncos, you have to give the Raiders some credit for taking a risk on Pryor. It’s paid off so far and it’s giving the Oakland faithful reason to be excited about the 2013 campaign.
Even McKenzie is enjoying it.