Matt Flynn, the assumed Raiders starting quarterback, left the door open. Terrelle Pryor did his best to kick it down.
In Friday night's preseason game against the Bears in Oakland, Flynn worked with the first-team offense for five mostly terrible series and completed only 3-of-6 passes for 19 yards with two interceptions — neither one really close to their intended target — as the Bears went up 24-zip. What few fans made it out to O.Co Coliseum booed Flynn lustily.
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Enter Pryor. After a slow start, he started stringing plays together and at least earned some respectability by driving 40 yards in the final minute of the first half to get his Raiders on the board with a long field goal.
Pryor was even better in the second half, even though most of the Bears' defensive starters (save for rookie MLB Jon Bostic) had baseball caps on by then. Still, Pryor made things happen. His best play was where he was flushed out, under duress and still able to — eat your heart out, Tim Tebow — complete a stunning jump pass for 19 yards and a first down.
Guess the JaMarcus uniform curse has been exorcised. Pryor finished 7-of-9 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown, and he ran four times — usually shedding tackles for loss in the process — for 37 yards and a score. Does this mean that there suddenly is a discussion about starting Pryor over Flynn? Head coach Dennis Allen certainly seemed to suggest it was in the realm of thought.
"I think obviously we have to look at it. I think when you look at it I don’t think Matt [Flynn] played well in this game. Obviously, I thought Terrelle [Pryor] came in and gave us a spark. I thought he played well in the game. I think that’s something that we have to go and look at it. I’m not going to make any decisions on anything, obviously, tonight. I want to get a chance to go back and look at the tape and see how things went. But it was obvious that Terrelle gave us a little bit of a spark tonight.”
Fascinating. For Flynn, though, this has to be maddening. Just a year ago, with his first real crack at starting after leaving the Packers, he couldn't nail down the job in Seattle, allowing the playmaking Russell Wilson to win the job, leading to Flynn's exit to Oakland. Will is happen again?
At best, Pryor gave the Raiders life. The first-team offense looked dead with Flynn. Through three preseason games, the stats stack up like this: Flynn has completed 19-of-27 passes for 180 yards with a TD and two picks. Pryor has completed 14-of-24 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Flynn has rushed four times for 19 yards but has been sacked a whopping seven times, too. Pryor has rushed 11 times for 83 yards and a score. He only has been sacked twice. Most of Flynn's reps have come against first-team defenses; most of Pryor's have not.
But still. It's enough to consider a change, especially behind what appears to be a bad offensive line, where Flynn is having a hard time getting rid of passes at times.
Pryor remained apolitical on the matter:
"I can’t say, because Matt [Flynn] does a great job. He did a great job last game moving us down the field with that two-minute drive. ... All I want to do is get better. I have a love and a passion for this game that is amazing, it’s incredible. I love this game more than anything. I just want to get better every day."
Pryor put a bow on a pig of a game for the Raiders and at least opened the discussion about whether he should be starting. At least for one season before the Raiders go in yet another direction at quarterback, anyway.