No NFL team rises to the top without the right quarterback, so it’s going to be imperative for the Raiders to settle on their quarterback of the future. Frankly, I’m not sure they’re making the right choice right now.
Matt McGloin will start his fourth game Sunday in New York against the Jets. He’s played well enough to get that opportunity but I hope they’re not giving up on Terrelle Pryor. McGloin is a more traditional quarterback, but Pryor has some special skills that could make him the best choice by next year, if not this year.
And next year is what the Raiders need to be planning for, the year when they can break through and be a playoff team again.
Unlike a good part of the media, I believe Reggie McKenzie as general manager and Dennis Allen as coach have each done a good job. McKenzie had to unload a lot of players who were overpaid and underproducing and he seems to be doing a good job of bringing in young players who have the drive that was notably lacking in many of the players who had been signed to those big contracts. Yes, he made a mistake with Matt Flynn but he’s not the only one who has, and he got rid of Flynn quickly this season.
Allen, too, has been learning on the job. He changed offensive coordinators this year and Greg Olson seems to have done a better job of matching talent and system. One of these nuts on sports radio last week criticized Allen for not being more outgoing on the sidelines. Well, neither Tom Landry nor Bill Walsh was demonstrative on the sideline, but they’re in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mike Ditka was a firebrand on the sideline, and all that got him was fired.
For both McKenzie and Allen, the quarterback decision will be by far their most important decision.
The easy choice would be McGloin, who has made the most of his talents. He was a walk-on in college at Penn State and an undrafted player out of college. In some respects, he is similar to Rich Gannon, who took the Raiders to their last Super Bowl. Gannon was a good athlete but the offense he played in during his college year, the Wing-T, was more of an option system. The New England Patriots drafted him in the fourth round, planning to convert him to a running back. It wasn’t until he came to the Raiders in 1999 that he became a great quarterback.
McGloin, though, is not a great athlete, and his lack of size — most observers think he is less than six feet despite being listed at 6-foot-1 — make his future problematical.
Pryor still has some rough edges and defenses realized he was quick to break from the pocket, always running to his right. But that was when the Raiders’ offensive line was banged up and he had no protection.
Pryor is a great athlete; his 93-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers is a Raiders record. I hope McKenzie and Allen consider his multiple talents when they make a quarterback decision for next year. The future of the franchise hangs on it.