The Raiders are changing quarterbacks one last time. Terrelle Pryor will start Sunday’s season finale against the Denver Broncos, supposedly because he gives the team the best chance to win and they need to evaluate him further.
Tough to imagine it’s both, especially when it was neither against the San Diego Chargers. Matt McGloin started the last six games, initially taking Pryor’s starting spot due to injury and eventually on merit.
Now, despite the fact the McGloin has the offense running better than it ever did with Pryor directing traffic, the Raiders are making a switch.
“It just gives us a chance now to decide where exactly we are, at the quarterback position,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’ll discuss that at the end of the season with management and ownership and what we feel like our needs are and where we feel like these guys are at right now. Right now, if we felt like either one of them was a certain No. 1 we would be moving in that direction.”
Ah. There’s the rub.
Neither quarterback has taken hold of the starting spot. It could be argued that both McGloin and Pryor were counted on before their time. That’s the byproduct of the failed Matt Flynn experiment, which cost the Raiders $6.5 million and sent them off course at the season’s start.
Sunday’s start will be Pryor’s ninth. McGloin’s had six and Flynn had one disastrous outing against Washington.
The Raiders have tried several quarterbacks, and haven’t been satisfied with any of them. Both players have strengths and glaring weaknesses. If their differing talents could be combined, the Raiders might have something.
The Raiders will likely look outside the organization for next year’s quarterback. Odds are there’s little Pryor can do to alter that destined course. Evaluations will still be based on a full body of work.
“Let’s understand that with Terrelle and Matt McGloin, they’re young quarterbacks and they can’t shoulder the load at this point,” Olson said. “We have to make sure that there’s development possibilities there at least. If we feel like these are guys we can develop moving forward and maybe add some pieces to the puzzle around them, those would be the questions and the discussions that we’ll have in the offseason when this thing is all done.”
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Olson concedes this offense hasn’t helped quarterback development, with injuries up front and inexperience on the outside.
“I think it’s unfair to try and evaluate either one of those players we’ve played based on what we have around them on both sides of the football,” Olson said. “I think there’s going to be growth there and there’s going to be a learning curve for Terrelle Pryor and for really Matt McGloin who we brought in.
“… I know that they’ve both had opportunities and been given opportunities to grab the ball and run with it per se, and as difficult as it is, we let those guys know, ‘It’s difficult for you guys, just knowing what the personnel is right now around you. We understand that’s a heavy task to ask either one of you,”
McGloin had plateaued some as weeks went by and the evaluation on him this season was largely complete. The Raiders are, and have always been teased by Pryor’s top-end potential. There’s a chance he’ll flash it Sunday, weeks after his sprained knee healed and streak of poor play cost him a starting spot.
“He’s as healthy as he’s ever been and he’s had a chance to sit back and watch a little bit,” Olson said. “He’s prepared each week knowing there may be a role in the game for him. I haven’t seen a change in his preparation since this. He knows what will be expected of him and he knows what has been expected of him from day one. He’s a guy that’s always up for the challenge. He’s a completive player and we expect him to play well.”