QB controversy in Oakland?
The Raiders' quarterback position is up in the air with 15 days until the season opener. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Dennis Allen has his first true victory as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders -- a quarterback controversy.
Terrelle Pryor showed more than enough in relief of starter Matt Flynn in Friday’s largely desultory practice game loss to the Chicago Bears to energize a fan base beaten almost flat by bad results, a three-year excavation plan and no expectations other than the likelihood of a 2014 season.
[RECAP: Bears 34, Raiders 26]
The statistics are not relevant to the greater point here. Pryor’s legs and risk-taking instincts energized an audience that had all but given up on the season even before it had begun. His ability to make people stay in their seats they were all but ready to leave vacant all season long matter as much as anything else the franchise can produce.
This is not a preference for Pryor over Flynn, or vice versa. Either quarterback will be playing behind a wonky offensive line, a one-back offense and wide receivers who are largely promise and minimal follow-through. The expectations for wins and losses should not be shifted based on Pryor’s ability to shame Chicago’s second- and third-string defenses.
Besides, Flynn v. Pryor is your argument, for your tavern. The official position here, in this squalid little corner of the Internet, is that this is still a team much closer to its sorry recent past than to any kind of glorious future.
But until Friday night, the biggest problem the Raiders faced was the fact that almost nobody cared about them, and football is hard enough game to play in front of huge and energetic crowds. In front of people who came for the tailgate and plan their exits when the halftime show ends, it becomes nearly intolerable.
So Pryor represents not the next great Raider quarterback –- there are light years to traverse before that becomes a sensible discussion point –- but the first good argument in the Allen-Reggie McKenzie era.
Flynn’s major advantages based on the available evidence are his salary, contract and money. Pryor’s major advantage is that he isn’t Flynn.
Oh, and one more thing. Pryor is one of the final vestiges of Al Davis’ brainstorming mind. For those who like the Raiders’ past more than their present, he is an example of what Davis could see in his mind’s eye when it wasn’t cluttered with other concerns.
That last thing doesn’t give Pryor any kind of leg up with the McKenzie-Allen regime, mind you. They are trying to change their franchise, so Pryor’s connection to Davis means zero.
But his real value, at least for the moment, is that he slapped the Raider fan base out of its well-earned torpor. He has given them a reason to give a damn, to love one player while excoriating a second, to get involved in a quarterback argument whose winner will very likely take a frightful beating.
[RELATED: Bears-Raiders Rewind: Pryor creates controversy]
It is not the same as hating the Broncos, Chiefs or Chargers, let alone the Steelers, Patriots or 49ers. Raider fans can hate them, but they have to do it in their spare time until their own team is capable of creating more and better topics than “We have one more win in the last decade than the Lions.”
So Matt Flynn v. Terrelle Pryor will have to do for now, and it couldn’t have happened without Pryor. For that, Raider fans will love him.
Until he plays a few games. Then all bets are off.