ALAMEDA, Calif. — Terrelle Pryor will likely get some work running the Oakland Raiders’ first-team offense in practice this week following an impressive preseason performance.
Whether he can win the starting quarterback job remains to be seen.
Coach Dennis Allen said Saturday the quarterback competition remains open one day after Pryor completely outplayed Matt Flynn in a 34-26 exhibition loss to the Chicago Bears.
Allen has said the main criteria for picking the starter will be who gives the offense a better chance to score. Right now that is decidedly in Pryor’s favor after he led four scoring drives and provided a spark that energized the Oakland Coliseum crowd and created a quarterback controversy with two weeks left before the start of the regular season.
“Terrelle came in and really added a spark to us offensively,” Allen said. “He moved us down the field, he was able to put some points on the board, so that was really good to see out of him. I don’t think Matt played as well as he or we would have liked for him to play. Again, we got to continue to get better, we got to keep moving forward and that’s a position that we’re still continuing to evaluate.”
While Flynn has faced tougher competition as the starter going up against mostly starting defenses and Pryor has benefited from a few short fields after turnovers, the difference in production between the two quarterbacks this preseason has been stark.
Flynn has played 13 drives over three games and has turned the ball over more than he has scored with a lost fumble in the opener and two interceptions against the Bears compared to one field goal drive against Dallas and an end-of-half touchdown in New Orleans. The Raiders have averaged 3.7 yards per play with Flynn at quarterback.
Oakland has scored on more than half of Pryor’s 10 drives this preseason with two touchdowns and four field goals compared to just one turnover on an end-zone interception on Pryor’s first drive of the preseason. The offense is averaging 5.7 yards per play with Pryor in the game.
Pryor learned from that mistake when he threw a ball into coverage instead of running and played his best football as a pro in five drives against the Bears.
“Every day I just want to get 1 percent better — that’s my key,” he said. “All I want to do is get better. I have a love and a passion for this game that is amazing, it’s incredible. I love this game more than anything. I just want to get better every day.”
The Raiders opened camp saying there would be a competition at all positions, including quarterback. But actions showed that Flynn was clearly the man as get got virtually all the practice snaps with the first-team offensive line and started all three preseason games.
But in two of those three games, Pryor has done a better job moving the offense. He has completed 14 of 24 passes (58.3 percent) for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception for an 80.2 passer rating. He has also run 11 times for 83 yards and a touchdown and been sacked twice.
Flynn has completed 19 of 27 passes (70.4 percent) for 180 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 70.0 passer rating. He has been sacked seven times.
This must be a painfully similar feeling for Flynn as he had last year. After signing as a free agent with Seattle, Flynn was expected to start for the Seahawks after serving four years as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay.
But Flynn was outplayed in the preseason by rookie Russell Wilson and once again was relegated to a backup role. He was traded to Oakland in April and seemed to have a clear path to a starting job. But that is no longer the case.
While Allen is still contemplating the decision, the Oakland fans have clearly expressed theirs. Flynn was booed throughout the game Friday while Pryor was serenaded with chants of “Pry-or! Pry-or!”
“That’s the game,” Flynn said. “That’s football. That’s going to happen when you have passionate fans. Fans expect a certain level of performance and we obviously didn’t meet that today.”