Appeared on WONE Ohio last week to talk Terrelle Pryor and the Battle of the Bay.
I discuss Pryor and breakdown the offense and defense for the 2011 season on the Football Sickness Podcast. Check it out.
It was 2009 the last time the Raiders played the Saints in the preseason. The New Orleans Saints were still the “Aints” and the Raiders were a team headed into the Tom Cable era without a true identity.
That game-also in Oakland and the third preseason game-was a 45-7 shellacking at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion Saints. The Raiders would win five games, none by more than four points.
Preseason is usually a time to evaluate individual performances over team performance, but the first half of the third preseason game is the closest we will get to predicting how a team might play during the regular season. The coaches scheme a bit and the starters play at least a full half.
Let’s take a look at third preseason games over the past few years.
2007 first-half score Rams 3 @ Raiders 17.
Rams would finish 3-13. The Raiders would finish 4-12
If it had been any other team besides the Rams, would the Raiders have even won? Both teams were terrible in 2007 and the fact that the Raiders didn’t blow out the Rams was a sign of things to come for both teams.
2008 Cardinals 3 @ Raiders 0
The Cardinals would finish 9-7 and go one to appear and lose in the Super Bowl. The Raiders finish the season 5-11.
This demonstrates how bad the Raiders offense was in 2008. Although the score was close in the first half, the Cardinals would blow the Raiders backups away in the second half and win 24-0. Kurt Warner attempted just four passes and he was the key for the Cardinals run to the playoffs.
In 2009 it was the aforementioned Saints blowout in week three. The halftime score was Saints 31, Raiders 0. Saints win Super Bowl. Raiders finish 5-11. The Raiders don’t want to repeat this performance.
2010 49ers 17, Raiders 14
The 49ers would win six games, the Raiders eight. It was a sign of just how mediocre both teams were in 2010. Did the Raiders have their moments? Absolutely, but everyone could see how mediocre the 49ers were and the Raiders couldn’t put them away at home during the preseason and later turned in a hapless performance in San Francisco during the regular season.
One theme was apparent in just about all of these games. The Raiders could not stop the run and aside from the 2010, the Raiders could not score. Hue Jackson may have solved the offensive woes and if the Raiders can pass more effectively in 2011, they should be more consistent offensively as well.
The questions still remain: Can the Raiders stop the run? Can the Raiders pass protect? Can the Raiders contend for the playoffs?
Those questions may just be answered tonight at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
Place your attention squarely in the trenches and leave them there for this game only straying to see how the young corners are doing against Drew Brees.
Stefen Wisniewski may win a starting job at left guard instead of center. Samson Satele has played well and Daniel Loper has played terribly so this is a logical move for the Raiders. Pay close attention to how the rookie handles playing guard with the first team.
Bruce Campbell needs to shine brightly tonight to have any chance of supplanting Cooper Carlisle as the starter at right guard. Carlisle has looked solid enough to hold off Campbell so far, but if and when Campbell learns leverage he may get his chance.
The Raiders also haven’t settled on the starter at right tackle. Stephon Heyer is the favorite, but he needs to continue to play well. The Raiders have started using Khalif Barnes as a sixth offensive lineman again, a sign that he may no longer be in the running to start, but will almost assuredly be on the roster. Rookie Joseph Barksdale needs to impress, but is likely headed for a reserve role in his first season. Still, things can change rapidly, pay close attention to who is lining up with the first team.
The Saints are commonly known for their prolific passing game with Drew Brees. This is a very important game for the Raiders young secondary.
The nickel corner job is still very much up for grabs, the Raiders didn’t bring in Lito Sheppard last week for no reason.
Sheppard will not play, so that leaves the young quadruplet Demarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa, Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware to battle for jobs.
The young group will need to hold down a very skilled set of receivers and an elite quarterback. No small task. Sterling Moore figures into the mix as well.
Quentin Groves. Is this guy really a starting linebacker? Will the Raiders rush out to sign a linebacker once players start being cut? Groves needs to show up and prove that the Raiders don’t need to worry about adding depth. The Raiders do need to add linebacker depth whether Groves plays well or not, but Groves can put their mind at ease.
Pressure Brees. The Raiders have a dizzying array of pass rushers. Put the pressure on Brees to give the young secondary a chance.
Have fun watching Taiwan Jones in the second half. He has special speed. If he gets loose he could go for a long one.
Players to watch: Stefen Wisniewski, Quentin Groves, Bruce Campbell
Positions to watch: Offensive line, cornerback
Score prediction: Saints 21, Raiders 17 at the end of the first half.
Reports surfaced early Thursday that Terrelle Pryor had agreed to terms with the Raiders. Of course, Raiders executive John Herrera denied the report, but said Pryor would hopefully sign his deal tonight.
Well, now it is official, Terrelle Pryor has signed his contract and the Raiders have announced he will be on the field Friday in Napa.
Friday marks the final day of training camp and it will be interesting to see how the Raiders handle Pryor before breaking camp.
The timing couldn’t be better. The Raiders will showcase Pryor for one day at camp before returning to the uber-secret facility in Alameda where they can start to starch and iron Pryor’s warts.
Pryor’s deal is worth $2,808,100 over four years if he hits all the playing time incentives. In 2011, $586,000 is guaranteed with a base salary of $375,000. In 2012, he will earn $485,000 and $20,300 available in playing time incentives. In 2013, his salary will be $595,000 with a playing time incentive of $40,700. In 2014, his salary will be $645,000 with a 61,100 play-time incentive.
Very reasonable deal for a boom or bust type prospect like Pryor. The best comparison I’ve heard is Seneca Wallace, but Pryor is bigger and faster than Wallace.
With Pryor’s deal complete that leaves just one lingering question? Are the Raiders going to bring in a linebacker?
The Raiders have been in constant contact with Lofa Tatupu, but have been looking for a player that can play outside linebacker. There is much concern if Tatupu would be effective outside or would be more of an insurance policy for Rolando McClain.
Keith Bulluck’s name has been floated by some as a potential outside linebacker option.
The Raiders might pull the trigger on Tatupu or a player like Bulluck in the next few days or wait until cuts are made around the league to see what kind of quality is available at linebacker.
Tatupu and Bulluck probably don’t have a ton of suitors, so the Raiders can afford to gamble and wait to see what kind of player become available over the next two weeks.
Per Jaz Glazer of Fox Sports, Kirk Morrison has signed with the Buffalo Bills. If the Raiders wanted to bring in a linebacker, they are down to Lofa Tatupu as the only remaining serviceable option.
The Raiders were already thin at linebacker before losing Travis Goethel for the season to a knee injury.
Behind starters Kamerion Wimbley, Rolando McClain and Quentin Groves the Raiders have Sam Williams, Darryl Blackstock, Bruce Davis II, Bani Gbdayu and Chris Francis.
That’s an extremely thin group of linebackers and the Raiders will be looking at cuts around the league to shore up the group.
Yes, the Raiders selected Terrelle Pryor with a third-round pick in the 2012 draft via the supplemental draft.
Most scouts believe Pryor isn’t a great fit as a quarterback in the NFL, but the Raiders didn’t waste a third-round pick to immediately covert him to receiver.
Pryor is lucky enough to possess elite physical tools. He ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash at 6’5″ and 230 pounds. While he has a long way to go as a quarterback, he has all the needed physical tools to be successful.
With no long-term solution at quarterback on the roster, the Raiders are wise to take the chance on Pryor. If the team doesn’t feel like he is progressing as a quarterback he can be converted to receiver down the road.
Hue Jackson and Al Saunders will attempt to mold Pryor into an NFL quarterback and they have a few good things going for them. Pryor is motivated to be good. He’s not receiving a $30 million signing bonus and will need to put in the work to earn a big payday.
Warts aside, Pryor loves football and if he puts in the work the Raiders may indeed have themselves a quarterback. Pryor chose Ohio State because he believed they would prepare him for the pro game.
Pryor can also have an impact in special packages until he is ready to take the reigns of the offense. Putting Pryor on the field and giving the defense another player to worry about is never a bad idea.
It was a wise decision to take the chance on Pryor now, with no quarterbacks on the roster with contracts past the current season.
This isn’t wise because as history suggests the Raiders are unable to develop a young quarterback.
The Raiders haven’t developed quarterback since Jim Plunkett and even in Plunkett’s case you could argue he just wasn’t put in the right situation before he came to Oakland. It’s been a long time since the Raiders have developed a franchise quarterback and the Raiders haven’t selected the easiest of candidates to develop, Pryor is no exception.
Pryor will need to clean up his mechanics, make better decisions and learn the offense before the Raiders can lean on him as starter. He has a long way to go.
In many ways Jason Campbell is more typical of Raiders quarterback, an outcast veteran that didn’t have much success at his prior stops. Chances are if Campbell is effective in 2011 the Raiders will give Pryor a full two seasons of development before trying to turn to him as the guy to lead the team.
Risk is all about money committment and the new draft process and rookie wage scale made Pryor a low-risk, high-reward option for Al Davis and he instantly becomes the Raiders only long-term option and the pressure will be on the coaching staff to make something of Pryor as a quarterback.
The preseason hasn’t been kind to the Raiders. After Saturday’s game, their first team has been crippled with injuries. Luckily the preseason is the time when the second team can step up and get in some playing time; it also means that the first team can get some necessary rest.
Quarterback Jason Campbell left Saturday’s game after getting clocked with a knee to the helmet. Concussion tests were run to assess the damage and Coach Jackson said that he anticipates Campbell being in practice on Monday. This was initially scary particularly because of the stinger that took Campbell out for part of the season last year.
Kevin Boss taking Zach Miller’s place at tight end was an overall good move, but now the depth at the position is in question. Boss is currently listed as week-to-week with a knee injury. There’s no word on whether he will be able to play in the home opener. Wide receiver Chaz Schilens is also week-to-week with a knee injury, but Coach Jackson has said that he could come back soon.
Jacoby Ford, one of the most electrifying and reliable players on the Raiders’ offense, has a broken hand. He was able to remove his hand brace this week and may be ready for the last preseason game and the season opener, but there’s no guarantee at this point.
Louis Murphy’s hamstring is still healing and won’t be ready in time for week 1. His injury leaves Darrius Heyward-Bey to be the main receiver for the season opener. DHB has looked good during preseason and will be essential once the regular season begins. Denarius Moore, third on the depth chart, has been playing like anything but a rookie, which is good since he may be starting week 1.
The good news is that last season the Raiders ran the ball very well and Darren McFadden is ready for game time. Michael Bush was critical to the team’s success last year and will be this year too. While the passing offense is healing, expect to see a lot of these two and rookie Taiwan Jones running the ball up the field.