Except for exhibition games, such as against Seattle this summer (above), QB Terrelle Pryor has been absent from Raiders plans. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Carson Palmer was knocked out early in Sunday’s game at Carolina, and backup Matt Leinart was ineffective.
So why didn’t head coach Dennis Allen and his coaching staff give No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor a chance to show what he can do?
That’s a question many Raiders fans and members of the media were asking after the Raiders offense was almost nonexistent in a 17-6 loss to the Panthers Sunday that dropped Oakland to 4-11.
With just one game to go this season, a game against the Chargers Sunday in San Diego, Allen was asked after Sunday’s loss if Pryor – who played in a very limited role against the Panthers – might start against the Chargers if Palmer is unable to go.
“Matt’s our backup quarterback,” Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “Terrelle’s done a nice job. He’s working extremely hard. We don’t feel like he’s ready to be the backup quarterback yet.”
As Bill Williamson of ESPN.com noted, the Raiders are only using Pryor in certain offensive packages when he enters a game; he’s not getting any work with the base offense.
“You’d think the team would take this opportunity to see what Pryor can do,” Williamson wrote on his AFC West blog. “But the team has hinted that Pryor has not shown enough fundamental consistency in practice to play on a regular basis. Sunday’s decision to go with Leinart indicates that Oakland simply doesn’t trust Pryor yet.”
In Sunday’s game, Pryor completed his only pass for 5 yards and rushed one time for 2 yards. He was in on three plays, all as a shotgun quarterback. On one play he had a 22-yard catch after taking the snap, throwing a lateral pass to Palmer and then catching a return pass from Palmer on a screen play.
Leinart, in his first extended playing time this season, was 16-of-32 for 115 yards and an interception, and many of his passes were short throws and screens. He didn’t challenge the Panthers secondary with downfield throws and didn't move the offense.
Pryor, the former Ohio State standout who was taken by the Raiders in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, told McDonald after the game that he isn’t questioning the coaching staff about playing time or getting into a public debate about getting a chance to play.
“I’m not the coach,” he told McDonald. “I definitely don’t make decisions like that. I don’t talk much, I just go out and do my job. Whatever God has for me, it’s going to happen. If not, I’ll be fine.”