Commentary: Terrelle Pryor lives up to low expectations in first NFL start
Published: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, December 30, 2012 22:12
Former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor finally got his first NFL start as a quarterback Sunday for the Oakland Raiders and the results were about what most people expected—unimpressive.
While Pryor did lead the Raiders (4-12) to a comeback against the San Diego Chargers with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, the game was never really in doubt.
Pryor and Oakland had already dug itself too deep of a hole.
Shortcomings that scouts and experts pointed out while Pryor was at Ohio State were evident against the Chargers as he threw inaccurate pass after inaccurate pass.
While some of these misses would normally be attributed to nerves or inexperience, Pryor’s history of missing receivers makes me think this is more than just a case of the jitters.
Pryor also threw into traffic consistently, backing up claims that he would be unable to read complex NFL defenses and find open receivers.
The former Buckeye signal-caller threw 13-of-28 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Completing less than 50 percent of your passes simply doesn’t get it done in the NFL, and, if he ever hopes to start again, Pryor will have to do much better.
There were, however, some positive signs for the young quarterback. His focus seemed to be more on throwing the ball than trying to run it, and when he did scramble, Pryor kept his eyes down field and only ran as a last resort.
When he did run, it was usually to good effect.
Pryor toted the ball nine times for 49 yards, including several first downs and scored on a play-action bootleg in the fourth quarter to cut the San Diego lead to 10 points.
Pryor’s best throw of the day also came late in the game. He completed a beautiful deep pass to rookie wide receiver Rod Streater for 38 yards on 3rd-and-7, which consequently set up his rushing touchdown.
Pryor added another touchdown pass after a blocked punt gave the Raiders the ball on the Chargers 11-yard line.
That was as close as Pryor and the Raiders would come, though.
After a standout career on the field at OSU, Pryor was expected by many to be converted into a wide receiver at the next level after he chose to forego his senior season in Columbus in light of mounting allegations regarding school’s “Tattoo-Gate” scandal in which he and five other former Buckeye players were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 collegiate season.
Then, when the Oakland drafted Pryor in the third-round of the 2011 Supplemental Draft, his prospects of playing at the quarterback position went way up.
Former Raiders owner Al Davis was infamous for valuing speed and athleticism over everything else, and after Pryor, who ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash time, fit the mold of the players Davis often opted to bring to his franchise.
If Oakland had exploited Pryor’s running ability earlier in the game they may have had a chance to compete against the Chargers, and it may have made Pryor look better as well.
The Raiders may not have done a very good job of playing to Pryor’s running skills, but that’s not the NFL game. Quarterbacks are expected to have the ability to stand in the pocket, read a defense, and make an accurate throw.
Those have never really been Pryor’s strong suits, and it showed in the game against the Chargers.
While Pryor managed a solid effort, it was nothing close to a performance that would earn him a starting job in the NFL. Barring any further injuries to regular starting quarterback Carson Palmer, Pryor won’t likely get many more starting opportunities at quarterback for Oakland.
If by some miracle he can manage to improve his accuracy, though, there may be hope for him yet. With even incremental progress in that area Pryor would make a solid backup quarterback.
With his size, strength and athleticism Pryor can play in the NFL. He just won’t be a regular starting quarterback any time soon.