Raiders coach Dennis Allen has quite a mess on his hands now after how poorly Matt Flynn played and how well Terrelle Pryor played against the Chicago Bears on Friday night.
Does Allen stick with Flynn as his starting quarterback for the regular-season opener, as has been the plan all along? Or does Allen suddenly shift course and opt for Pryor?
As one Bears player said after his team’s 34-26 victory over the Raiders, “They have to go with Pryor. He at least gives them a chance.”
The player qualified his remark, saying that he likes Flynn as a player, but Flynn just isn’t athletic enough to function well in an offense that lacks enough talented linemen to keep the quarterback clean for an entire game, let alone a season.
Tonight’s game illustrated that point, with Flynn getting flattened on a corner blitz, completing 3 of 6 passes for 19 yards and being intercepted twice. Meanwhile, Pryor completed 7 of 9 for 93 yards and one touchdown, as well as a 25-yard touchdown run.
(Note: I got assigned to cover the Bears locker room tonight, so I’m not privy to what Allen, Pryor, Flynn or anyone else with the Raiders had to say after the game. I will track that down later and pass it along).
However, it doesn’t take a seasoned football expert to reach the conclusion that Pryor outplayed Flynn tonight. The burning question is, what does it mean?
Well, it means that Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie, at the least, have to consider the idea of going with Pryor instead of Flynn, regardless how they felt before tonight.
McKenzie and Allen are big on saying that every position is open for competition. Well, if that holds water, Pryor just laid claim to being the opening-game starter for the Raiders.
Sure Pryor is inexperienced, learning as he goes and prone to mistakes. So if Flynn, even though he is in his sixth NFL season. Remember, Flynn has started only two regular-season games, or one more than Pryor.
— Wide receiver Rod Streater left the game with a concussion. He got drilled in the head after hauling in a floating pass from Pryor.
Sure, Pryor hung out Streater on the play, but it came as a result of Pryor being chased by four Bears defenders, running out of room to run and doing whatever he could to get off the pass before getting clobbered.
Streater played well enough in training camp and the first two exhibition games to be considered the Raiders No. 1 receiver. It’s unclear whether he will be healthy enough to play in the opener.
— The punting competition remains too close to call. Veteran Chris Kluwe grossed 50 yards on his one punt — he had a 49-yard net. Marquette King averaged 50.5 yards on his two punts, with a 40-yard net.
— Josh Cribbs didn’t do much to help himself in his quest to make the 53-man roster. He fumbled one kick return and averaged a pedestrian 21.5 yards on his two returns.
Jacoby Ford replaced Cribbs later in the game and promptly ripped off a 62-yard return. Allen said he wanted to see more explosiveness and burst from Cribbs. Well, Cribbs is running out of time to show that he still has something left to offer, primarily as a kick returnter.
Taiwan Jones all but removed himself from the running when he twice dropped the ball during a kick return and then got blasted at the 12-yard line.
— Rookie Matt McGloin relieved Pryor in the second half and showed some poise in driving the Raiders to a touchdown to make the game respectable.
He completed 7 of 14 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown. However, he had two passes intercepted, including one on the Raiders final offensive snap.
At least he got to play. Fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson warmed up on the sideline, but he failed to get in the game once again.
No one has any idea what’s going on in the battle for the No. 3 spot between McGloin and Wilson. It’s conceivable that the Raiders intend to cut Wilson, so they don’t want to play him much and, if he plays well, thereby tempt teams to claim him off waivers.
Then again, this just might be another case of an undrafted player seizing the opportunity and outplaying the more high profile player. It happened last season with Streater and Juron Criner.
— For the second straight game, the Raiders first-team offense and defense got outplayed thoroughly by the opposing team.
They trailed the New Orleans Saints 23-0 last Friday. Tonight, the Bears led 27-0 before most of their starters retired.
Naturally, these games don’t count and few remember teams’ records from exhibition games. However, it has to be alarming to Allen and McKenize how thoroughly the Raiders got outplayed when their starters were on the field.
Don’t pay attention to the Raiders coming back in both games. That happened, in large part, with players that won’t be playing key roles in two weeks or won’t even be in the league.