The Oakland Raiders welcome the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend in a Week 9 matchup against two teams with hopes of making a playoff push.
The game pits the worst passing offense in the Raiders against the second-worst passing defense in the Eagles. For this reason, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor is this week’s x-factor as the Raiders try to reach .500 on the season.
Pryor is coming off his worst passing game of the season after being 10-19 with just 88 yards passing and two interceptions. In his last two games, Pryor has thrown five interceptions with only one touchdown.
All the blame cannot be placed on Pryor, though he would surely shoulder the blame, because he has dealt with an offensive line decimated by injuries all season. Pryor is constantly on the run from a heavy pass rush but he must become a passer and not look to run so early.
Pryor must improve his pocket presence and try to avoid defenders by moving in and out of the pocket instead of running right away. It may be difficult depending on the rush but Pryor must attempt to wait for plays to develop and move the ball through the air. The Eagles allow 302.3 passing yards per game and the Raider quarterback has yet to have a 300-yard passing game this season.
Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater must work to get open and help Pryor make some easy throws. Both have developed a relationship with the dual-threat quarterback and it will be key for them to find holes in the defense.
The Raiders must open up the playbook for Pryor and utilize all their weapons. This season, tight end Mychal Rivera and fullback Marcel Reece have been underused in the passing game. Both should be used as safety nets for the third-year quarterback to complete passes in the flat or over the middle.
Pryor has a 63.1% completion rating this season, good for 12th in the NFL, but he must not be afraid to throw the ball. He has done his best work in the air when he is confident in himself, inside and outside the pocket. Pryor has the ability to extend plays to allow receivers more time to get open instead of taking off running.
Look for the Raiders to try and attack the Eagles’ secondary early and often to open up their running game. Also, expect Pryor to have his best passing game of the season and finally eclipse the 300-yard mark.