Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has thrown eight interceptions over the past four games. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
A few weeks ago, it appeared Terrelle Pryor might be the Raiders’ long-term answer at quarterback.
The former Ohio State star, getting his first chance to play regularly in the NFL, was making dynamic plays with his strong arm and quick feet, showing leadership qualities and making opposing defenses account for him on every snap.
But after the Raiders’ 24-20 loss to the Giants in New Jersey Sunday, some are questioning whether Pryor is indeed the team’s quarterback of the future.
On Sunday, the Raiders (3-6) lost their second straight game and Pryor had a rough day, completing just 11-of-26 passes for 122 yards and throwing a horrible interception that resulted in a Giants touchdown, while also fumbling the ball away late in the game while being sacked.
Paul Gutierrez, who covers the Raiders for ESPN.com, asked the question that many Raiders fans likely were asking themselves Sunday: “Has Terrelle Pryor regressed?”
Certainly, Pryor’s performance over his last four games, as Gutierrez pointed out, has been lacking. He’s thrown one TD pass over the span with eight interceptions. He’s also completed 61 of 120 passes for 719 yards and been sacked 18 times.
Another national website Sunday night posted a story with the headline, “Terrelle Pryor proving he’s not the Raiders’ long-term QB.” Tweeted a Raiders fan site Monday morning: “Terrelle Pryor MUST pull out of this slump. Not even JaMarcus Russell had a 5-game stretch at this QB rating.”
Having your name mentioned in the same sentence as Russell – one of the biggest quarterback busts in the history of the NFL – is never a good thing. But, Pryor’s stats certainly have dropped significantly.
His quarterback rating is now 69.0 and he’s thrown five TD passes vs. 10 interceptions and completed 58.9 percent of his throws for 1,559 yards while also taking 29 sacks.
Pryor’s ineffectiveness as a passer has been a huge downfall for Oakland this season, especially in the second half of games when the outcomes were still undecided.
“We’ve got to get better in the passing game,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “We’re not going to be able to win games without being able to pass the ball. It’s a work in progress and we’ve got to keep progressing.”
To be fair to Pryor, there are a number of things stacked against him: his inexperience, an offensive line that’s been decimated by injuries, a dearth of experienced receivers and the recurring injuries to running back Darren McFadden that have hindered the Oakland running attack.
Plus, on Sunday vs. the Giants, Pryor was playing with a banged-up knee from the Eagles game the previous week that proved to be more of a problem than he or the team anticipated. He couldn’t push off from his back foot on passes, and it limited him as a runner.
“I couldn’t explode in the passing game,” Pryor told Gutierrez. “Couldn’t explode in the running game.”
With seven games remaining in the season – with the next test coming up Sunday in Houston vs. the Texans – Pryor will have to fight his way out of this slump if he wants to keep himself in the quarterback mix for 2014. With a large crop of talented quarterbacks anticipated to be available in the draft, the Raiders might be obligated to take a quarterback in the first round if Pryor doesn’t appear to be the long-term answer.