On a national stage Friday night, the Raiders’ starting quarterback job might have just been decided.
Under quarterback Matt Flynn the Raiders offense sputtered, putting no points on the board well into the second quarter during a 34-26 home loss to the Chicago Bears.
Oakland might even be thankful that the NFL Network’s national feed was blacked out locally, as quarterback Flynn completed only three passes for 19 yards and a pair of interceptions.
The first string defense couldn’t force a three-and-out during the entire first half, allowing 27 points on three touchdowns and two field goals.
It was a disappointing loss for head coach Dennis Allen, who voiced his frustrations following the game:
Raiders coach Dennis Allen
Video: CSN Bay Area
“Matt (Flynn) didn’t play well during this game. Obviously we didn’t start off the way that we wanted to start off. We can’t continue to spot teams the way we did in the first half. There are obviously some things we have got to get fixed.”
As the end of the first half neared, Flynn was pulled from the game and the look on his face was one of surprise.
Terrelle Pryor was shaky during his first drive, but was masterful during his second as he completed two quick passes for 19 yards before hitting receiver Mychal Rivera on a deep crossing route for 26 yards.
That play set up a 58-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski, giving the Raiders their first points of the game. Allen said:
“I thought Terrelle came in and gave us a spark, I thought he came in and played well.”
Pryor was able to evade rushers and scramble for 25 yards and a score during the third quarter before completing a 19-yard touchdown to rookie tight end Nick Kasa. Pryor finished 7-for-9 with 93 yards passing and 37 yards rushing. He threw no interceptions.
Pryor’s performance comes amid a flurry of displeasure from fans with the Raiders bringing in Matt Flynn, while others are taking to Twitter to demand that Pryor play.
After the game, Pryor told told reporters he was happy with his performance:
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor
Video: CSN Bay Area
“I just think I competed, that’s the first thing coach said at today’s team meeting, that he was looking for guys to compete. Since I was young, I always wanted to compete. I’ve been working hard and that’s how I expect to play.”
Coach Allen has not yet named either player as the team’s lead signal caller heading into the regular season. It seems he may wait until after the fourth and final preseason game.
One bright spot for the Raiders came in the form of first-round draft pick DJ Hayden.
Hayden played his first game since November of 2012, making three tackles and adding a defended pass. He answered skeptics who questioned whether he could sustain the impact of the NFL after a hit during his final college game tore a vein in his heart. The staff at the University of Houston said that it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
“He made a couple of plays, but he was rusty. It’s his first game of his career, since November. I’m sure we’ll go look at the tape and find some positives in there. I’m glad he was able to get out there and play, there were a lot of firsts. I’m looking for him to improve as we move forward.”
Allen and his staff must finalize roster cuts by Tuesday afternoon, trimming the team down to 75 players.
Then, by next Saturday, the roster will be chopped down again, this time to 55 players. Next Sunday morning, 1,120 players from 32 teams will be looking for work.
For the Raiders, one of those players is looking to be a punter. The competition between Marquette King and Chris Kluwe is becoming tighter by the day as King has shown promise.
The second-year player from Fort Valley State punted twice, with a long of 55 yards. Veteran Kluwe had one kick of 50 yards. With such a tight battle, job security could depend on salary, which King wins that one by a large margin.
Kluwe would be owed $840,000 for the upcoming season while King will make just $405,000. Seeing as how Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has been aggressively trimming payroll, Kluwe seems to be at a disadvantage.
The Raiders will wrap up their preseason when they visit the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.