Allen: 'We had all the momentum and we let them back in the game'
Dennis Allen, who tries never to give clues, dropped any number of huge ones Sunday as he surveyed the wreckage of the Raiders 24-14 loss to Washington – starting, as it happened with this:
Whatever one’s opinion may be of Terrelle Pryor as an NFL quarterback, the matter of whether he is preferable to Matt Flynn is surely settled.
Offered any number of scapegoats to explain how the Raiders blew a 14-point lead at home to a winless team – coaching, play-calling, injuries, offensive line play, you name it – Allen most concentrated (without actually saying so) on the falloff from Pryor to Flynn.
“Look,” he said, exasperation leaking into his usual monotone, “Matt didn’t play well, and we’ve gotta move on. We’ve got to get better than that.”
“Arm strength wasn’t an issue.”
“I have no challenges with the play-calling.”
And, when asked if Pryor’s concussion still prevented him from playing against San Diego if he would consider starting third quarterback Matt McGloin:
“I don’t know right now. It’s only been 15 minutes (since the game ended).”
That last one was the piece de resistance, because this-string quarterback questions are the last refuge of the neophyte reporter, there to be slapped back with vigor and even sarcasm. Allen, on the other hand, would not rule out the idea.
That’s how unhappy he was with Flynn’s contributions – the lack of pocket presence, the stationary profile in the pocket, the general, well, meh-ness of it all.
Comrade Bair will have more on Flynn’s contributions to the discussion, but this was one of those games the Raiders will look back and think was theirs, when it wasn’t. It was almost dictated from on high. No Pryor? No Darren McFadden (hamstring)? No Marcel Reece (knee)? On a team that isn’t deep enough on offense already?
Put another way, how many times can Rashad Jennings block punts for touchdowns?
Pryor is expected back next week for San Diego. McFadden and Reece are different issues. But the greater issue is that this seems to be a team that is inordinately dependent upon a first-year quarterback even to make an ordinary offense run, well, ordinarily.
The defense held out against a minimally mobile Robert Griffin III as long as it could, but couldn’t corral Roy Helu, Jr., when they needed a stop. The special teams got the Raiders their first touchdown with the Jennings punt block, and ran a fake punt to extend a possession, but Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal (albeit off the dirt, which is suddenly an issue after 14 years).
The point is, the Raiders have enough on their plates already to be eliminated by their lack of depth. It is clear that whatever quarterback controversy there was to be created in July is no longer worthy of the name, as Flynn-v.-McGloin is not a controversy at all but a statement of madness. It is clear that without Pryor and McFadden, the running game is not going to be respected. And if they cannot run . . . well, they are a defense without hope of respite, and that won’t work, either.
Allen came closer to acknowledging that Sunday than ever before. He cannot say it, of course, without losing the locker room and eventually his job, but he eased closer to that level of vocal exasperation than ever before.
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That isn’t the truest litmus test, mind you; blowing a two-touchdown lead is sufficiently offensive on its own. The Raiders have not had enough uplifting moments in the past decade upon which to draw to make such occurrences seem surmountable, so this is just one more loud and discordant note in a symphony of them.
But at least while we still don’t know if the Raiders can be something with Pryor and McFadden, et. al., we at least know they cannot come close without them. Even painful knowledge is still knowledge – if that’s your idea of fun.