Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
O.CO COLISEUM — Terrelle Pryor — starting the game so Raiders coaches could further evaluate him — stood at mid-field during the pre-game coin toss.
It was the only time he’d lead a group of Raiders to the 50-yard line until the fourth quarter, when the game didn’t matter anymore and the Broncos had brought in their third-string offense.
The Raiders were slaughtered by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos by a score of 34-14, 31 of Denver’s points coming on a 266-yard, four-touchdown assault from Manning in the first half.
It was the exact yardage Manning needed to set the all-time single-season pass yards record and ended with a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
Pryor’s numbers were pedestrian at best, 21-for-38 attempts for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Nearly all of it came in garbage time as the Oakland offense was only able to tally 52 total yards in the first half.
Despite all of that, Pryor told members of the media that he felt good throughout the game and that rust was not a factor.
Coach Dennis Allen wouldn’t comment on Pryor’s performance, deferring questions until after he can watch game tape, though he did say:
“I was disappointed. I think we knew going into the game, to have a chance against this team, we were going to have to control the time of possession, so we were going to have to be able to run the ball effectively. We were going to have to be able to control the clock. We were going to need to be able to convert some third downs. And we weren’t able to do that.”
After Manning left and Brock Osweiller replaced him, the Raiders defense was able to clamp down.
Denver had made it a point to rest their players, comfortable with a 31-point-lead, and the a few sacks later, the defense may have regained a little confidence. Rookie linebacker Sio Moore got his third sack of the season, with another four tackles. On the inefficiency when Manning was in, Moore said:
“I think it was a number of things to be honest with you. I think the biggest thing that we can take away from this game is understanding that when you play a good team, the margin of error goes all the way down and our execution has to go all the way up. That’s what separates a lot of teams.”
2013 is over, now, the rebuild
Raiders owner Mark Davis has been consistent during exchanges with the media that he understands the process. He has voiced that he wants to be patient with the build, and knew that the Raiders chances for a winning season in 2013 weren’t good.
Now he has the chance to follow through.
It’s been a common topic among the press, locally and nationally, whether Dennis Allen is on the hot seat or not.
Entering the regular season, the Raiders had more dead money (money guaranteed to players not on the active roster, which counts against the salary cap) than money spent on players that called O.co Coliseum home, according to overthecap.com.
Now that the season is over, general manager Reggie McKenzie, Davis and Allen should have the opportunity to discuss free agent acquisitions and draft possibilities.
They’ll have around $60 million to use, far more than any NFL team. They can add a number of big names, whether it be on offense or defense. That’s however, if Allen stays.
Allen supported the notion that his job is secure Sunday, saying:
“I expect to be back and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to come back. But those are decisions that somebody else is going to make, but yeah, I expect to be back.”
It’s expected by Allen and others that Davis and McKenzie will begin that discussion Monday. As for the other coaches, there could be changes, though nothing has been announced.
Allen also spoke about the offseason. He told the media he expects quality free agents to come to Oakland. He wasn’t specific regarding any one position. In fact it was the opposite:
“Listen, we’ve got a lot of areas we have to try to improve. I think as we go through the next couple of months, we’ll have the plan formulated exactly where we want to try to improve our football team through free agency, where we want to try to improve our football team through the draft.”
Throughout the season, the Raiders have played like a bipolar child: Good on offense, bad on defense; or, bad on offense and good on defense.
The defense excelled during the first half of the season, while the Pryor-led offense was lame and easily read.
Oakland gave up 41 sacks in games Terrelle Pryor or Matt Flynn started, and just five in the six games that Matt McGloin started.
Even more, McGloin wasn’t sacked at all while starting against San Diego, Kansas City, or Dallas.
The offense was more potent during those six starts, averaging 23.6 points per game, versus the Pryor and Flynn duo that averaged 18.4 points per game.
Beyond the statistics, the offense flowed better. It was ebony and ivory to the first half’s dungeons and dragons. Receivers were making plays that they weren’t before, and it hasn’t appeared that they weren’t trying before.
Marcel Reece summed up the season:
“One word is ‘disappointing.’ Another word would be ‘hurtful.’ But it will definitely make us stronger as a team and stronger as an organization and we’ll definitely get it together.”
That the team was able to garner four wins with half the financial backing of any other might be some solace to fans. While others are clamoring for the heads of Allen and McKenzie, it would be wise for them to exercise the same patience that Davis has.
After all, they’ve had to go to the grocery store for a $4 jug of milk, but with only $2.25 in their wallet.