ALAMEDA -- The Raiders believe quarterback Terrelle Pryor continues to progress. The numbers disagree.
Pryor has thrown one touchdown and seven interceptions over the past three games. He threw four touchdowns and a pick in the previous four. Big difference.
Evaluating Pryor isn’t so cut and dry. He leads the team in rushing with 7.7 yards per carry. He’s one of a select few dual-threat quarterbacks, a dimension that has kept the Raiders competitive this season. There’s no arguing that.
If we’re being honest, Pryor has work to do. He runs a passing game ranked No. 30 at 197.8 yards per game. That isn’t all Pryor’s fault. There’s a suspect offensive line in front. The tight ends are virtually invisible these days. So are the backup receivers.
But Pryor too has his shortcomings. He delivers the ball late sometimes. He’ll occasionally put a receiver in line for a big hit. He also has a penchant for scrambling, sometimes a bit too soon. That turns a drop back into a broken play, where the original plan is largely scrapped.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said Pryor needs to trust his protection more. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson agrees, but he doesn’t want to limit Pryor’s instincts.
“There are times that he does very well and times that he doesn’t, but again it’s a growing process for him,” Olson said. “He’s obviously given us a lot of explosive plays, so it’s a delicate balance there. He’s doing a good job every week, and again he’s gaining experience every week. I think that’s where we’re hoping every week he just gets better and better.”
Pryor’s gun shy for a reason. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second among NFL quarterbacks with 46.6 percent of his dropbacks played under pressure. While he’s elusive and can create big plays, Pryor’s made big mistakes playing under pressure (although, in a strange twist five of his nine interceptions were thrown from a clean pocket). He gets sacked on 20.7 percent of those snaps, and has been blamed for 11 of his 24 sacks.
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Pryor believes he’s improving this area, just as he has in other aspects of a complicated position. He cited getting plays off on time and making better pre-snap reads.
“We just have to take the positive from all that and keep continuing with that and keep being a very dynamic offense, trying to become what we want to be,” Pryor said. “We have a lot of games left. We have a lot of leaders that need to step up. It’s time to go; it’s time to get rolling.”
The passing game must improve for the offense to be more competitive. While everyone must play better, improvement is required of a quarterback who showed play-making ability and several shortcomings during the first half of his first season as the starter.
“Our ceiling is high, we know that, and we just have to keep on striving and be the best we can be,” Pryor said. “I believe in the guys, and like I said we’ve got a lot of football left and we look forward to nothing but success.”