ALAMEDA -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen considers Terrelle Pryor his starting quarterback of the present and future. He made that declaration on Monday afternoon, a day after Pryor’s worst start as a pro.
The 24-year old has shown progress and flashed potential worthy of such distinction, but his sample size is incredibly small. No matter. Allen can see Pryor at the helm of a franchise he’s charged with leading toward renaissance.
One disappointing performance in Kansas City won’t change that fact. In Pryor they still trust.
“Yeah absolutely,” Allen said. “I mean, I don’t think he played as well as he would have liked. But again, he’s still a young player. That was only his fifth start of the season. So he still has a lot growing to do and a lot of getting better to do, but he’s a talented player and we’re going to try and continue to build with him and try to grow with him.”
Pryor appreciates the vote of confidence. He’s just not comfortable taking compliments when failure’s sour taste remains. Pryor refuses to back down from Sunday’s stance, that he alone destroyed an opportunity to upset the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Few, if any, others agree. Few, if any, others doubt Pryor’s ability to rebound and lead a team in transition.
“I don’t like the future-type talk,” Pryor said. “I think DA is saying it because he wants it to be that way. If I play like I played (Sunday), I won’t be around very long. I know that he is telling me that he’s on my side. He wants me to be successful and he knows I can help the team. I’m looking back and thinking, I have to protect the coaches. I have a strong connection with them, and I let them down big-time yesterday. That’s what I’m ashamed of.”
Pryor isn’t just upset about the sacks and interceptions. He’s upset about poor protection calls and delay-of-game penalties. He’s upset that the world’s loudest stadium frazzled him a bit.
Those things, when taken in sum, have Pryor down on himself. Unlike most, he has no problem admitting it. The 24-year old is as insightful and introspective with the public as any starting quarterback. He’s in a mourning period, grieving an opportunity lost.
“You have to fight your thoughts and put this game away,” Pryor said. “Coach told us that today was the last time we’re going to think about this film. That’s how it has to be.”
Pryor will move on and supreme confidence will return but not before getting one last shot in on himself.
“I deserved those hits (I took) because I made bad plays,” he said. “I didn’t get the ball out. On one play I called the wrong protection to the other side. When you make stupid mistakes like that, you deserve to get driven into the ground. I need to be on top of my game. I just wasn’t.”
Allen wants his franchise quarterback to be accountable. Allen wants him to be a leader and a performer. He also wants him to work and grow and learn from mistakes.
“He probably played as good as he has played last week against San Diego. He didn’t play as well this week against Kansas City,” Allen said. “That’s part of the growth of a young player. Now the key is, does he learn from it? Does he move forward from it and does he play better (the next game) against Pittsburgh? That’s what we’re looking for. Again, when you get young players, especially at the quarterback position, you’re going to have some ups and downs. You’ve got to give him an opportunity to continue to grow.”
That’s why Allen's vote of confidence is well timed. He doesn’t want Pryor looking over his shoulder. That was of concern when Josh Freeman was being courted two weeks ago. Pryor made passing reference to it and moved on without showing anger. The Raiders fast-forwarded when Freeman chose Minnesota, and put all their faith in one talented kid.
The Raiders don’t have competition for Pryor and aren’t looking for it. The players understand it, and are happy to evolve with Pryor under center. Allen’s "quarterback of the future" declaration wasn’t a surprise, but it was nice for the team to hear after Pryor was feeling so down and out.
“Coach Allen’s saying that for everyone on the outside looking in,” fullback Marcel Reece said. “It's always great to have that affirmation from a coach because it just shows that everyone here is on the same page and everyone is buying in.”