With the last game of the preseason finished, there are many questions still plaguing the Oakland Raiders but the main question is who will be taking the snaps for the offense this year?
Coming into the preseason, the top candidate was Matt Flynn. It was his job to lose. After three preseason games, seemingly the coin flipped, was it now Terrelle Pryor’s job to lose in the fourth game?
With Flynn sidelined with elbow tendonitis, similarly to last season, Pryor got the opportunity to start the final game of the preseason. With the spotlight on him he didn’t make the choice any easier following the game. Pryor only threw for 31 yards with a low quarterback rating of 10. He had a drive ending interception but two of his drives ended in field goals.
Let’s look at the numbers from the four games this preseason, perhaps it will become clear. When you look at either quarterbacks’ stats, neither of them ran away with the starting job. Over the four game preseason, Pryor was 17-for-32 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions which left him a 59.5 QB rating. Flynn wasn’t much better gong 19-for-27, also with one touchdown and two interceptions. His QB rating was higher at 70. Pryor threw for more yards with 221. The numbers are identical in touchdowns and interceptions, the main difference is in completion percentage and quarterback rating with Flynn winning both categories but with neither of those stats being completely dominant to make Flynn the starter.
Since the preseason didn’t give any clear winner maybe we should look at their careers. Can one become the starter because of experience? Even though Flynn spent five years as the back up to Aaron Rodgers, he only has two starts. In one game, he put up amazing numbers, 480 yards passing with a completion percentage of 71, six touchdowns and only one interceptions. By comparison, Pryor only has one start under his belt so far in his career. He played the final game for the Raiders in the 2012 season. In that game Pryor didn’t put up amazing numbers, only throwing for 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His quarterback rating was higher than this preseason at around 71. Again, neither quarterbacks’ career numbers make it easy to pick a starter just by looking at them.
For this season, Oakland is rebuilding. They have brought some pieces back, but overall there are a lot of new players on the field. They don’t have many super star players to take the brunt of the load of the offense. The offensive line is questionable at best. The starting left tackle, Menelik Watson, is a rookie that has never played left tackle in his career. This is going to make it hard for a quarterback to be able to stay in the pocket and pass. Flynn doesn’t have the pocket presence of a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers that gives him the ability to move around the pocket to extend plays. Pryor does have the mobility to get out of the pocket and create plays either with his arm or feet.
The one stat that is becoming more popular among quarterbacks in the league is rushing yards. Pryor has the edge in the category having rushed for 131 yards in four preseason games. This ability to run and extend plays is what the Raiders need this season. With Pryor taking the snaps, he can move and create. This ability to create helped put up 32 points when Pryor was quarterback to Flynn’s ten points. This will give the Raiders a much needed offensive weapon and threat to keep opposing defenses honest. Flynn is definitely a more accurate quarterback but what the Raiders need is a play maker.
Terrelle Pryor’s ability to create and extend plays is why he will not only start game one, but also be chosen as the Raiders starting quarterback. It’s now his job to lose.