If you’re looking for a reason to watch the Raiders on Sunday, look no further than to their third-string quarterback. No, seriously. Following Friday’s practice, head coach Dennis Allen named Terrelle Pryor the starter for the Raiders’ regular season finale.
“I’ve decided to go with Terrelle Pryor as our quarterback,” Allen said. “He’ll play in the game and we’ll see how the game goes. He’s the starter, and we’re going to go into it as we would any other game.”
This news should both surprise and excite fans. Just four days ago, Allen told reporters that Pryor wasn’t ready for an increased role in the offense. “Terrelle’s done a nice job,” Allen noted. “He’s working extremely hard. We don’t feel like he’s ready to be the backup quarterback yet.”
What a difference four days makes, eh? Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, or maybe it’s the result of a lost bet. Whatever the case, Pryor should instill some amount of excitement back into the Raiders’ offense.
With Matt Leinhart under center, the Raiders’ offense mustered just 189 yards of total offense against a Carolina Panthers’ defense that ranks in the bottom-five of the NFL. That’s Oakland’s lowest total offensive output since November 21, 2010, when the Raiders managed just 182 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It should be noted that at the time the Steelers had a top-five defense.
Leinhart was pressured on only 10 of his 33 drop backs. And, yet, he still managed to play terribly. On plays in which he faced no pressure, Leinhart was 10 of 23 for 72 yards and an interception. That’s 3.1 yards per attempt. That’s also outrageously bad. If Pryor manages to play worse, I’d be surprised.
Pryor’s matchup is as favorable as Leinhart’s was against Carolina. He will have to contend with a San Diego pass defense that Pro Football Focus the bottom five. If Pryor is unable to take advantage of the Chargers’ porous secondary with his arm, he should at least be able to utilize his leg to keep the Raiders from Leinhartian ineptitude. Or, at least, we should hope so.