This is the 17th anniversary of the smallest thing Al Davis ever did – firing coach Mike White on Christmas Eve.
But this time, they are the recipients rather than the donors of that yuletide footwear coal. Christmas Eve happened to them, not the other way around.
Head coach Dennis Allen, who has enough lousy holiday cheer on his platter as it is, was handed a heaping serving of hell-beast in a motor oil reduction from Jerome Stanley, the agent for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who told CSN Bay Area that Pryor was starting Sunday’s game against Denver only because Allen wanted Pryor to fail one more time.
“I think they’re putting him in hopes that he fails,” Stanley said. “That’s what I think the coach is doing. I think they’re putting him in hopes that he has a bad game, so he can then justify the Matt McGloin situation. I think that’s what’s going on, I do and it’s ridiculous.”
Well, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a knee in the place no knee should ever go.
The pure daftness of Stanley’s assertion was enough to induce Pryor to apologize, and for Allen to break coachly programming and snap in his Tuesday presser. A lousy season got even lousier, and Allen’s precarious position was made more – well, confusing – by Stanley’s claim that Allen would rather punish a quarterback he doesn’t have faith in by playing him than by not playing him.
The logic here is as mind-numbing as most Christmas Eve programming.
It may very well be that Allen doesn’t believe in Pryor as an NFL quarterback. It may be that he prefers Matt McGloin, and that Pryor has been forced upon him by owner Mark Davis, general manager Reggie McKenzie or both.
But Allen doesn’t gain job security by starting a quarterback he may not find to his liking – he loses it. If the Pryor move was truly intolerable to him, he has the choice to refuse and resign on principle. He looks better to a future employer by not submitting to meddling from on high.
It is clear, though, that he is better as a head coach than as a job-seeking future assistant. He needs Pryor to do well Sunday in a difficult spot – playing Denver is slightly less fun than a wasp hive in one’s underthings.
And it isn’t as though McGloin actually gives the Raiders a better chance to win. At best it is a push; the Raiders didn’t get to be 4-11 just because Allen couldn’t settle on a quarterback.
At best, Stanley is trying to force Davis’ hand into dismissing Allen on the assumption that Pryor is the team’s quarterback of the future. At worst, he’s just throwing a spanner into the generator to watch the sparks.
But what Stanley hasn’t done is clarify anything. For one, he is assuming Pryor will fail, either by his own deeds or by Allen’s play calling. For two, he is assuming that Pryor has leverage that he may not in fact have. He is, after all, Johnny Manziel’s name on Draft Day away from being a backup again.
He’s put his client in a bad position, unless his plan is to position Pryor for his next team. He’s the agent trying to be the fixer, when this situation is too fluid to be repaired except by time and circumstance. Dennis Allen may stay and he may go, but Terrelle Pryor will not be the instrument of his survival or his demise. All teams are more than their quarterback, and this team will not be defined by two quarterbacks who rank 32nd (McGloin) and 37th (Pryor) in quarterback rating.
There is this much, though, to be said for Jerome Stanley. He got the Raiders back to even on Christmas Eve, and there’s no holiday song that covers that.
Except maybe the heartwarming old carol “Christmas In Jail,” by The Youngsters. The song has nothing to do with anyone in this story, but it sure beats anything you'll hear or see in the next couple of days, and that is it's own reward.