It seems that we should start using Matt Flynn's name as a verb for someone who unexpectedly gets their job taken by another competitor. It was fully expected that Flynn would get the starting nod in Seattle last year, but Russell Wilson came out of no where and capitalized on a combination of injury and ineffectiveness from Flynn. Wilson never looked back, and Flynn was turned into a very expensive backup.
We thought that was all going to change this year, as the Seahawks traded Flynn to the Oakland Raiders, who had an opening at quarterback after shipping off Carson Palmer to the desert (Arizona Cardinals). So now, we were finally going to see what he could do after years of sitting on the bench, right? Wrong.
Flynn got "Flynn'd" again and the Raiders named Terrelle Pryor the starting quarterback for their week one game in Indianapolis against Andrew Luck and the Colts. This was again due to an injury, and fairly poor play. With this, it time to set some realistic expectations for fans about what they'll see from Pryor throughout his first season.
He was considered a Heisman candidate year in and year out, but never quite reached that level, partially because of the stiff competition from Sam Bradford, Mark Ingram, and Cam Newton, respectively. These players all had unbelievable seasons, so you can't hold it against Pryor for not being able to top any of them.
He was certainly a dual-threat, and he lived up to his top prospect billing. He had some obvious faults, though, and it seemed that he relied on athleticism a bit too much. One NFL scout said, "He's a basketball player playing football." In fact, Pryor actually won a state championship in basketball while averaging 21.9 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists and garnered tons of interest from top basketball programs. But back to that scout's quote, that really seemed to hold true.
His ability as a runner really helped him out in college, but it wasn't thought that that would be able to translate to the NFL, because teams would bring the house and make him beat them with his arm. While his career completion percentage of 60.9 doesn't seem all that bad, most of his solid passing performances were against teams like Indiana, Purdue, Youngstown State, and Eastern Michigan.
When put up against stellar competition, his arm usually faltered. In 2008, he put up back-to-back games of 38.5% passing against Michigan and Texas, respectively. Those were just two of the numbers that stood out, but there were definitely more. An easy way to get an idea of what kind of a quarterback he was is to just Google Image search "Terrelle Pryor" and see how many pictures you see of him throwing the ball compared to how many there are of him running. While this obviously doesn't completely condemn him as a passer, it just speaks to what his strong suit is.
He sat the entire 2011 season, and then this past year, he finally made a few appearances. He threw a combined 2 passes in his first two games, going 1-2 with 5 yards (along with 1 carry for 2 yards and 1 catch for 22 yards) and was given the opportunity to start in the Raiders' season finale against the San Diego Chargers.
This game basically reaffirmed what we already knew; he went 13-28 with 150 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, while picking up 49 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. This carried on to the preseason this year, as even though he totaled 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground, he was just 17-32 with 221 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Those numbers, couple with a passer rating of 59 didn't really make anyone think his passing had improved all that much.
That's where the difference lies between Pryor and read-option quarterbacks like RGIII and Colin Kaepernick; He is just no where near their level in terms of passing ability. He's still very inaccurate, forces throws into tight coverage, and often puts too much air under the ball.
As we saw with Tim Tebow, you can only run for so long before teams start making you beat them with your arm. It didn't work for Tebow, and it won't work for Pryor unless he can somehow gain some form of accuracy.
He may be a solid fantasy football option just because of his running ability, but as a viable option in real football? No way.
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