Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Terrelle Pryor. The full text also appears below.
Pryor takes blame, now must improve his game
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor avoids a sack by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) late in their game Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. (Associated Press)
There is no need to criticize Raiders quarterback Terrell Pryor. He does quite a good job himself.
He had a bad game Sunday in Kansas City — three picks, 10 sacks, 45.7 passer rating. Don’t harp on any of that. Pryor will do it for you. He walked into the Raiders’ locker room on Monday afternoon. He is a handsome, pleasant, painfully honest 24-year old.
“Your coach said Sunday’s game was a learning experience,” I told him.
He looked at me. “Who was that again?”
“Dennis Allen. That coach.”
Pryor considered the source. “It was a learning experience,” he said. “I agree with him. But I don’t really like that because I’m supposed to be on top of my game like all my other teammates were. I had a bad game.
“I was talking to Bill Romanowski (Sunday) night for about an hour and he told me how he played on a team with John Elway. I’m not trying to put myself together with (Elway), but you hear a lot of stories about great quarterbacks you look up to they had bad games. It’s about who gets back up. I’ve got to pick up my craft and I will.
“To answer your question — this is a long answer — but it’s something that needs to be said. I need to learn when to escape and when to throw it away instead of taking sacks. I’ve got to learn and I will. That was definitely my worst game.”
Reader, take a deep breath before we move on. You get the picture. Pryor is a talker. More than a talker. He’s a pourer, the words pouring out. And he’s a confessor, lets you into the depth of his soul including insecurities. You pull for Pryor because he is so likable and he makes himself vulnerable.
Back to the scene. One reporter mentioned Pryor had a desperate time calling the plays on time.
“I take the fault at that,” he said. “I’ve got to get guys in the huddle. I wasn’t getting the plays called until about 15 seconds at the line. At that stadium it’s very loud. The ground was shaking. A lot of the things happened because we were rushing and that’s on me.
“The last pick I threw — and they took it to the house — I was kind of like, ‘I thought a flag was thrown.’ I thought it was a pink flag but they were using yellow flags. I got it confused with the previous week (when they used pink flags). There was a (pink) towel on the ground. I said, ‘I’m not going to chase.’ I’m disappointed for that to be on the film.”
Please, is there someone out there who can absolve Terrelle Pryor of his never-ending guilt?
You want guilt? Try this. “I deserved them hits,” he said, “because I made bad plays. On one play I called the wrong protection. It was supposed to be on the other side. Stupid mistakes like that.”
So, he deserved to get hit?
Earlier in the day, I had asked Allen if he’s sticking with Pryor as his quarterback of the future. “Yeah, absolutely,” Allen said. “I don’t think he played as well as he would have liked or what we wanted him to, but he’s still a young player. That was his fifth start this season. He’s still got a lot of growing to do and a lot of getting better to do. But he’s a talented player and we’re going to continue to try to build with him and try to grow with him.
“Now, the key is, Does he learn from it, does he move forward from it? That’s what we’re looking for. When you get young players, especially at the quarterback position, you’re going to have ups and downs. You’ve got to give him an opportunity to continue to grow.”
Here is Pryor’s take on being QB of the future: “I appreciate Coach. Obviously, I can’t keep making mistakes like that. Coaches have to pick the right guys to play. They have to trust guys that they’re not going to make the wrong plays. At any moment I could get pulled out and I won’t be the starter.
“I think he’s saying it because he wants it to be happening like that. I know what he’s trying to say. He’s telling me he’s on my side and he wants me to be successful. At the end of the day when you get shipped out, guys are going to look at your ratio of interceptions and passing touchdowns. What is it?”
Let’s step back from pure Pryor emotion and evaluate him as a quarterback at this stage of his young career.
The positives: He is a fine athlete. He is a running threat to any defense. He can throw on the run. He’s big and tough.
The negatives. He has not shown a high quarterback I.Q. I am not saying he has a low I.Q. He comes off as highly intelligent. I’m talking about quarterback I.Q. That is specific and has to do with reading the defense, calling the right play, getting the play off in time. There is reason to believe he can develop a high quarterback I.Q.
He is not as accurate in his throws as an NFL quarterback needs to be. His throwing mechanics are all over the place and his footwork puts his arm and torso in bad throwing positions. He misses too many open receivers.
The Chiefs forced him to stay in the pocket. That’s the key to beating him. Keep him in the pocket. Don’t let him run and improvise. He is not an impressive pocket passer.
It hurt me to write those criticisms. I admit that. I like Terrelle Pryor. I’m shamelessly rooting for him. Please play better, Terrelle, or the entire Bay Area may fall into a depression and I may go into mourning.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.