Pryor excels, but there is no QB controversy

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Pryor excels, but there is no QB controversy

OAKLAND -- The knee-jerk reaction will be to proclaim Terrelle Pryor as the Truth. The multi-faceted threat under center. The guy who should, gulp, start at quarterback for the Raiders in their season opener.

And if all you saw was a stat sheet after the Raiders' 31-20 defeat of Detroit in both team's third exhibition game on Saturday, it might be understandable. Except

There is no quarterback controversy in Silver and Blackdom. None. Not even after Pryor excelled and excited -- finally -- and starter Carson Palmer had another somewhat uneven day that looked uglier on said stat sheet.

Consider: Palmer was 17-of-26 passing for 181 yards and two interceptions for a 53.5 passer rating while Pryor was three-of-five for 137 yards and two TDs's and a 143.8 rating. Pryor also ran the ball five times for 90 yards, while Palmer was stopped for no gain inside the 5-yard line and was sacked once.

Now, I'm not saying Pryor's stats were fool's gold. Far from it. What he accomplished was indeed impressive, and his 59-yard run down the right side in the third quarter was breathtaking. But you must keep in mind what Pryor did, he did against backups and guys who will not be on NFL rosters in another week, while Palmer was running against one of the most fearsome front lines in the league, and moving the ball well. Even without two of his top receiving targets in Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford and the projected starting center in Stefen Wisniewski.

If nothing else, this should convince the Raiders' coaching staff it needs to incorporate a specific package for Pryor, to utilize his special talents in certain situations. Maybe even when the Raiders' offense stalls inside the red zone, as it has under Palmer.

"He's still a work in progress," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Pryor. "But I thought he made some strides today. He's not where we need him to be. He's not where he wants to be. But he made some progress."

And with a talent as raw as Pryor is, that's all you can really ask for in the preseason. Especially since backup quarterback Matt Leinart sat this one out with his injured right index finger.

"I felt real comfortable because when I was with the (third-team offense), I would get like 10 plays in practice," Pryor said. "That's not really enough for me that I can really get the feel for it. They say that you win games in practice, and I wasn't winning in practice with 10 plays. It's impossible.

"I'm not really getting the feel for the exact plays that I'm going to be running, whereas this week (practicing with the second-team offense) I did. It was good to get a few extra reps behind Carson. It was great."

Even if his first touchdown pass, the 39-yard toss to Juron Criner, was not. The ball was slightly underthrown but on target and Criner showed off his leaping and ability to adjust in the air to haul in the pass.

Pryor's second TD was a 76-yard catch and run by Criner, who shook off the defensive back trying to tackle him.

But hey, playmakers make plays, right? Palmer's two picks came on a misguided middle screen attempt to Taiwan Jones and on a pass to Eddie McGee that bounded off his hands.

Pryor was also intercepted, on an ill-advised pass into blanket coverage. Though it was nullified by penalty.

"I hate losing so much," Pryor said, "people won't play video games against me because I will throw the controller and break it, and then I have to buy another one. I'm fiery. Losing drives me crazy. I won't shake the other team's hand if they win. I don't want to look at them. I just hate failing."

Got it? Remember, this is the same guy who said he played like "dog crap" against Dallas in the exhibition opener. Beyond that, it's been a rough month for Pryor. His mentor, his father and even his dog -- "my best friend," he said -- have all died since just before training camp opened.

So yeah, Pryor feeling at home at having major success on a football field was a big accomplishment for him.

Just don't get it twisted. Take it for what it's worth and put it in your back pocket.

"I'm just so happy for him," Palmer said. "He works so hard and puts so much time in. To have the big plays that he made with his feet and the big throws that he made and the guys step up for him like Juron did, guys have so much confidence in him and I'm just happy for him. Proud of him."

As he should be. Just, don't get carried away. Yet.

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has hired former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, the team announced on Monday evening. He will be the team’s assistant head coach on the defensive side of the ball.

Pagano has spent most of his coaching career in San Diego, working with the Chargers in various capacities since 2002. He was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in 2012, where he led that unit for five seasons.

Pagano and Del Rio worked together in 1997, when Pagano was a New Orleans Saints defensive assistant and Del Rio was the assistant strength coach.

Pagano was a longtime linebackers coach before becoming a play caller. He has worked with several quality pass rushers and has proven to be adept at creating pressure.

The Raiders created a position for Pagano, who will help a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed and dead last in sacks. Pagano was looking for a different gig after new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn hired Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator. 

Ken Norton Jr. remains defensive coordinator, but Pagano will bring experience and creativity to the game-planning process.

He has worked within a 3-4 defensive scheme, but has experience in all formations. The Raiders run multiple defensive fronts.

Pagano is the assistant coach on defense, while offensive line coach Mike Tice has a similar title on the offensive side. The Raiders have a vacancy on the staff, and are looking for a new defensive backs coach.

John Pagano is the younger brother of Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano.

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Last week was a sports business headline grabber in the Bay Area. On Tuesday the Golden State Warriors went all Cirque Du Soleil for a groundbreaking ceremony for Chase Center in Mission Bay. Then, the Oakland Raiders filed their relocation papers on Thursday, making a pair of gut punches for Oakland sports fans.

It’s time to separate the fact from fiction and examie what comes next...

FACT

- The Warriors will be playing in the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season.

- The Raiders officially filed relocation papers on Thursday, Jan. 19 with the NFL for permission to relocate to Las Vegas.

- The Raiders have raised season ticket prices across the board for the 2017 season in Oakland.

- Nevada has $750 million dollars in public money approved for the construction of a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.

- If the relocation is approved, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders would become the largest taxpayer-subsidized stadium deal in NFL history, more than the $600 million in public money used to build the Atlanta Falcons’ $1.5 billion stadium and $500 million the public is picking up for U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings.

- Sand’s Casino Chairman Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million dollars of his own money to help build the Las Vegas stadium. Negotiations with Mark Davis on the details of his investment are ongoing. The Raiders have a deal with global investment bank Goldman Sachs to assist in financing the Las Vegas stadium deal.

- The Raiders plan to be playing in their new Las Vegas stadium by the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders have lease options to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. 

- The cost of the Raiders' one-year lease extensions at the Oakland Coliseum is in the area of $3 million a year.

- Oakland and Alameda County still owe a large chunk of the $95 million dollars of debt for the Oakland Coliseum retrofit that brought the Raiders back from Los Angeles.

- NFL owners will next meet in Arizona from March 26 to 29. A vote on the Raiders relocation may take place at that time, or it may be postponed. Davis needs 24 "yes" votes to approve a relocation.

- Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $550 million dollars to the NFL to relocate from St. Louis to Inglewood.

- The San Diego Chargers will be moving to the new shared stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019. In the interim they will play in the StubHub Center in Carson. It will be the smallest capacity stadium in the NFL at 27,000 seats.

- Relocation fees for the Raiders and Chargers have not been publicly released.

- The A's continue to review sites in the Oakland area for the building of a new ballpark.

- The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum is the only location in North America that has a MLB and NFL team playing in the same facility.
       
- Las Vegas will have its first NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, skating next season in the new T-Mobile arena in Paradise. 

FICTION

- The Raiders' request for a relocation vote has been officially added to the NFL owners meetings scheduled in Arizona from March 26-29. 

- The exact location of the Las Vegas domed stadium has been selected.

- Mark Davis has $500 million dollars to put into the Las Vegas stadium deal. 

- Las Vegas is a stronger economic market than Oakland.

- The Raiders have a lease to play in Sam Boyd Stadium, home of UNLV football. 

- The Raiders have announced they will be selling seat licenses for their Las Vegas stadium.

- The Raiders are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a football-only facility.

- The A’s are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a baseball-only stadium.

- The A’s will move quickly on announcing new stadium plans based on the four-year minimization of MLB revenue sharing money, which begins this season.

- The A’s have selected Howard Terminal as the site of their new ballpark.

- Mark Davis has an interest in selling a major stake in the Raiders to Sheldon Adelson or any other interested billionaire to help him build a new stadium in the Bay Area or Las Vegas.

WHO KNOWS?

- What will happen with the Ronnie Lott/Fortress investment group that is negotiating with Oakland and Alameda County? 

They have no agreement of any kind with the Raiders to play in their proposed $1.25-billion, 55,000-seat stadium.

Three previous third-party investor-backed deals to finance and construct new sports venues in Oakland have failed. Floyd Kephart, Forest City and Colony Capital all struck out.

- What will the NFL charge the Raiders for relocation to Las Vegas and where will that money come from? 

The NFL is a proponent of two teams playing in one stadium in major metro areas, as we have seen work with the Jets and Giants at Met Life and with the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood.

The Raiders have adamantly opposed sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

- What legal or business actions will the Oakland authorities pursue against the Raiders and NFL if the team receives approval for a Las Vegas move? 

- Will the Warriors and Raiders pay back tens of millions owed the city and county for the improvements of the Coliseum and Oracle.

- How will the A's use the incredible leverage they will have if they wait until the Warriors and Raiders leave town?

Former A’s partner Lew Wolff said that the A’s won’t require a penny of public money to build a new stadium. Wolff is now out and A’s owner John Fisher could easily change that position.

PLACE YOUR BETS 
 
Oakland has been dealt a bad hand and it doesn’t look like it will get any help from the house. But I do not believe the Raiders will receive relocation approval at the NFL owners meeting in March.

Remember, the momentum was behind the Raiders and Chargers to get a "yes" vote on their proposed move to Carson in January of 2016. Owners instead voted 30-2 to approve the Rams' move to Inglewood. 

If the Raiders do get approval, the A’s and Major League Baseball could have a big surprise for Oakland. As the last team/league standing, they could ask for hundreds of millions in public money to support stadium construction. They could ask for control of all the land around the Coliseum at pennies on the dollar. They could threaten to move to another city with MLB approval.

This sports saga reads like War and Peace, but it's light on the peace and we're only getting started...