Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor finally got an opportunity to play in a regular-season game this year. He also received his first start, in the regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers.
A day after the game, Pryor paused to reflect upon his performance in that game, his two years with the Raiders and how he intends to work on improving during the offseason.
Here’s the transcript from the 13-minute interview in the locker room before Pryor departed Alameda for the final time in 2012:
Q: Thoughts after watching tape from Sunday’s game?
Pryor: “Actually, just when I met with, I went into coach Flip’s office, he pointed out a couple of things that I did. The flag we got, I threw a bomb to DHB, he just mentioned that if I would have faked it and stayed back on it, I would have had better vision. Instead of a penalty, we would have completed it. I agreed with him on that. Also, there’s a couple of plays I missed, whether it was miscommunication with me and the receivers. It’s just, I haven’t had a lot of reps with the guys, so it’s tough to be on (the same) page. But, just for going out and having fun and trying to get some plays, draw ‘em up and make them work, I thought we did a decent job. My biggest thing is, before I went to bed I was very mad at myself that I didn’t get out of bounds because we could have had a field goal. D.A. preaches that all the time. All I was trying to do was make him miss. I knew because when I was running, I was looking at the clock. I knew I had to get out but I ended up slipping. I didn’t get out. I was very mad about that because that’s my time where I’m a leader. That’s an example that he can show. ‘T.P. got out of bounds on this play and this is the type of stuff we need.’ I didn’t do it, so.”
Q: You got out of the huddle on time, no penalties, no sacks, plenty to build on?
Pryor: “Oh, yeah, like I said, them guys had 11 sacks, I was telling you guys on Wednesday about the Jets and stuff like that. I got rid of the ball well. There’s a couple of accuracy things that I need to fix. I was telling you yesterday, when guys are in my lap, with the flick wrist, I need to work on that a little bit. I need to make sure I complete that. That pick I threw, that’s what happened. Them guys were in my lap, but in the NFL you got to make those throws and I experienced that firsthand yesterday. So, I appreciate it more. Definitely it’s something to build off of. I wish we could have won, obviously, but it’s something to build off of. I’m very excited that I started. I can go home and can feel like somehow hold my head up high that I accomplished one of my goals of starting at least one game and lead the guys like I know how to do.”
Q: Any part of you that feels as if you should be considered for the starting job?
Pryor: “I don’t want to get into thoughts of that because I respect Carson as a human being, as a guy that, when everybody counted me out as a quarterback, said I couldn’t do this or that, he’s the one that said, ‘I believe in you.’ He’s told me so many times that he believes in me. No disrespect to you guys, I just don’t want to get into comments about that because I love the guy as a human being, I love him for the father he is to his kids, the husband he is to his wife, and I love him as a teammate. I love the guy and I really don’t want to discuss that.”
Q: Thoughts on learning a new offense now that Greg Knapp is gone?
Pryor: “Like coach Flip said, ‘You grinded hard learning Greg’s offense. You know that offense. Last year you were kind of getting kind of involved with Hue, so there’s not many other different ways you can learn an offense.’ So, when the OC gets in here, I’m going to be in here and I want to know exactly, I want the playbook, I want to start getting on it. I’m sad that Greg left. Really loved the guy as a coach. He’s a great coach. That’s the business. Coach Allen, like he said at the team meeting, he made the best decision. Whether we agree with it or not, it doesn’t matter. We have a great leader in D.A. I believe in him. Everybody in the locker room believes in him. He’s our leader. Now we leaders that are going to step up and say, ‘Alright, you guys get on our back, and I’m going to lead.’ That’s what we need from guys. We’re going to have that starting in February. I hope guys are accountable, we can hold guys accountable to be here and get some good work in here in February, when they open the doors.”
Q: Do you think you could have helped a little more if they’d used you in red zone earlier this season than they did?
Pryor: “I believe in my abilities 100 percent. Whether I am or not, I think I’m the best athlete on the field. I’m not saying that in a cocky way at all. That’s just the person that I am. I believe I can make plays. I believe I have energy to get guys going. That’s just who I am. I think so. But like I said, we had a good OC. It’s hard putting in a first-year offense and trying to get a hold of it. I know a lot of guys didn’t have a hold of it great. So it’s tough. But yeah, I believe I could have helped.”
Q: Is it odd in a way that you did get your opportunity because Carson was hurt?
Pryor: “I think that’s God’s way of saying me and Carson and Matt were here, and it time for me to show that I can contribute in some way. I’m a big believer and follower of the Lord, so whatever happened is why it happened. That’s where my belief is.”
Q: Was it almost like riding a bike Sunday? The last time you started a game was the Sugar Bowl.
A: “Definitely. I was down yesterday, but what made me feel good was when Khalif Barnes came up to me after the game on the plane and was like, ‘You did a great job. Got us in and out of the huddle. Sometimes you mumbled out the plays and you weren’t sure, but you jumped right back on it and were like, OK, this is the play. You had us upbeat. You were moving us, had us excited, had some energy. ‘ He said, ‘I love that.’ And he said, ‘The thing I loved the most about you,’ and I didn’t really understand it until he explained it a little more, he said, ‘When you threw that pick, you came back in the huddle and you (were like) nothing happened. OK, let’s go.’ I was amazed. It’s funny how guys look at everything about you. Everything. I remember the coach this morning, he was saying, ‘You were talking to defensive guys when they were about to go on the field, and their eyes snapped and they all paid attention to you. They were all alert when you were talking. As soon as you started talking, they were looking right at you. They didn’t even listen to the coaches, giving them details on the next series.’ That’s footsteps, and that’s a blessing that guys look up to me and have energy from me.”
Q: How important is that? I look at what you did when Mike (Goodson) was in the fight and you were barking at him. How important is that for you to have that respect?
Pryor: “I think that’s huge. I think this team needs leadership, whether it’s multiple guys leading or two or three guys. We need it. You look at all the top teams right now going to the playoffs. They have leaders, great leaders on offense and defense, maybe multiples. I think leadership is key because the guys are going to follow and get energy from a certain guy. You have to be able to lead and they have to believe that you’re always in the game.”
Q: As a guy who hadn’t played, was there ever any question in your mind whether they would have your back so quickly? Or was it something you thought would take awhile?
Pryor: “This week at practice was amazing. Like the strength coach here was saying, just your voice fluctuation, just the way you carried yourself, you were different. You were a different person.”
Q: Did you feel different?
Pryor: “A lot different. I felt in full command. I was excited. I had so much energy. I love that.”
Q: How tough is that when you have that much energy and now you have to shut it down?
Pryor: “During the game Knapp was like, ‘Calm down,’ because I was so excited. I was upbeat. I was like, ‘Come on guys, let’s go.’ Maybe too much, but that’s just who I am. I’m a very fiery guy. I love to go out and compete. I’m so proud of the guys that we came back. We were playing bad at first. I’m excited.”
Q: What do you pinpoint to work on this offseason?
Pryor: “What I’m going to do is, what I really want to do is get the film cut up from this past game and see what I could have did better, make some workouts, some drills from that. ‘Cause the movements that I made yesterday, it’s only going to get better in the pocket. But when I’m out scrambling, I just want to see how, just keep performing it so it’s even more second nature. It’s already second nature but just make it more.”
Q: What was going through your head when you were throwing the ball, putting touch on it?
Pryor: “What I learned, and even Carson was telling me that, throughout his years, you’re going to make different throws. Some of them got to have touch, some of them got to be zipped, some of them got to be thrown sidearm, some fo them got to be thrown without a wrist or follow-through. The one without the follow-throughs really messed me up yesterday. Because I never experienced guys in my lap. In practice, you’re not allowed to come nowhere near me. It was just different. But now that I know, I’m going to have my big brother — he’s 6-5, about 350 — and I’m going to have him stand right in front of me and I’m just going to throw. Throw seam balls, 30 yards, so I can’t miss it.
Q: You and Norv Turner?
Pryor: “I swear that he was messing with me a little bit during the game. Even before the game he was like, he gave me some praise and also said, Go out and have some fun. Cut it loose. It was weird. It was a weird connection me and him had. I don’t know.”
Q: Ever met him before?
Pryor: “No, never.”
Q: Might be your coordinator coming up?
Pryor: “That’s maybe what he was hinting at. I don’t know.”
Q: The Norv and Terrelle Show?
Pryor: “I don’t know, but I’m sure DA and Mr. McKenzie will definitely find the guy that’s going to fit and is going to lead us to next year.”
Q: How fine a line between frustration and challenging to have to learn a third NFL offense in three years next year?
Pryor: “Hey, I look at it as exciting and something to look forward to. A lot of people say that you have to be in the same offense. Yeah, it would help. It definitely would because everything would become second nature. But there’s only so many flat, curl-flat reads or there’s only so many reads. You’ve just got to get the concept, the language and I believe, I look at myself a a smart guy and a lot of people view me as that, too. And I don’t think I’ll have a problem with that. It’s going to have to be more urgent now. If I want to have a chance to be able to lead this team one day, I need to be urgent, learn stuff fast and have the footwork intact, fast. And that’s what I’m going to be very focused on.”
Q: Having waited so long for opportunity, was it everything you hoped for?
Pryor: “Yeah, I wanted to lead this team, any way I could. Whether it was a couple of plays or whatever. I just wanted to get on the field and try to earn respect of my teammates. That’s all I could ask for. I had the opportunity to do that yesterday.”