By not trying to be a traditional pocket-passer kind of quarterback, maybe Terrelle Pryor has finally found the road to success in the NFL, and on the way help the Oakland Raiders settle on a quarterback for the future.
Despite losing to the Indianapolis Colts, Pryor was who everyone were focusing on. The third year quarterback entered training camp as the underdog to get the starting job, but Matt Flynn seems to be stuck in the backup mold, while Pryor surprised everyone by being named the opening day starter.
The result? He threw for 217 yards and a touchdown pass (19-of-29) to go with two interceptions, while running for 112 yards on 13 carries. The Raiders have been struggling with their running game for quite some time, so Pryor himself became the running game, even if his main goal since he entered the NFL was to not to be the quarterback who is known for his running.
All spring he was very hesitant to run the football. He wanted to prove to everyone that he was going to be a pocket-passer guy, and that’s not his game. His game is bringing his God-given athletic ability to the field and to this football team, and that’s what’s going to help this football team win a lot of games.
According to John DeFellipo (QB Coach), Pryor has been battling with himself for quite some time, but it seems like his performance against the Colts and the confidence given to him from the coaching staff will push him in the right direction – being a dual threat kind of guy, who is known for his ability to run the ball, while working on his ability to throw the ball, which is inconsistent at best right now.
As many coaches have said, it’s not about having a big arm (which Pryor does have) or having fast legs. Both of these thing help, but it’s mostly about making the right decision in the small window of time, and reading correctly what the defense presents you with.
Five times a zone-read option play was called, and five times Pryor kept the ball himself and took off, gaining 33 yards on those plays. Only once did he misread the play, when he should have given the ball to running back Darren McFadden. The decision is determined by the defense, every time. The quarterback is responsible for recognizing what the defense does – the angle of the linebacker, picking up on the blitz and similar stuff. If Pryor can do that well, there’s no reason he doesn’t repeat his performance against the Colts.
He’s still probably holding back, maybe afraid of being labeled as a guy who can’t throw. He picks up pieces and bits from other quarterbacks in an attempt to become a reliable option in the pocket. But as this season progresses (and hopefully sooner than later), he realizes that by being a running threat on every down, he helps the Raiders a lot more.
He’s going to improve as a passer. He’ll improve out of the huddle. But he’s so big and so fast, running is a major strength of his game right now. He’s very coachable in recognizing those mistakes, and I don’t think he’ll be a repeat offender when it comes to those.