Three reasons why Pryor was worth the risk for Raiders (and three reasons why he wasn’t)

Ohio State University quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) runs the ball against Eastern Michigan University during the second quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio September 25, 2010. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Oakland Raiders selected former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor with a third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft. Seeing as how they now don’t own a second, third or fourth round pick in 2012, it was quite a gamble for Al Davis and his franchise.

But here are three reasons why Pryor was worth the gamble for Oakland (and three reasons why he wasn’t).

1. Don’t get fixated on the third-round compensation.
No, the Raiders currently don’t own a second, third or fourth-round pick for 2012. But they also just lost cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and tight end Zach Miller via free agency so chances are they’ll recoup that third round pick when the NFL hands out compensatory selections next year. In fact, there’s a good possibility that Oakland will receive a third and a fourth-round pick for next year’s draft. That doesn’t mean that the Raiders should just give away their draft picks, but that’s not what they did. In Pryor, they landed a gifted athlete with plenty of potential…

2. …Pryor is a gifted athlete with plenty of potential.
Pryor is raw as a quarterback prospect but there’s no auguring how good of an athlete he is (which is why Al Davis was so attracted to him). He ran in the sub 4.4-range at his recent pro day and if he doesn’t make it as a QB, he has the quickness and body control to potentially become a receiver at the next level. As of right now, the Raiders don’t have any quarterback on the roster signed through next season. That includes Jason Campbell, who becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Even though Pryor will miss the first five games this season due to a suspension, he gives Oakland the developmental quarterback that their roster currently lacks.

3. The reward could outweigh the risk.
As it stands right now, this isn’t a move that will set the Raiders back for years to come. In the end, all they gave up was a third round pick that they’ll probably get back next year anyway thanks to Asomugha’s decision to sign with the Eagles. If Pryor winds up being a starting quarterback in Oakland, all it would have cost the Raiders up front was a third-round pick. That’s also third-round quarterback money, which is nothing. On the flip side, if doesn’t pan out at quarterback, the Raiders could still try him at receiver. If he flames out there, then hey, at least they didn’t give up a No. 1 overall selection (eh, JaMarcus?).


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Colt McCoy could be poised for big things in WCO

When he was an assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in the late 60s and early 70s, Bill Walsh knew he had to find the right quarterback to fit his system.

Back then, the “right quarterback” had the same attributes as the “right quarterback” does today: Tall, strong-armed, intelligent, etc. But Walsh knew that in order for his offense to work, he needed a signal caller who was accurate first and foremost, and who possessed the ability to make quick decisions in order to get the ball out of his hands in a timely manner.

In Sam Wyche, the Bengals had what some deemed a prototypical quarterback already on the roster. But Walsh clearly didn’t think Wyche was the exact fit to run what is now called the West Coast Offense, so the Bengals acquired former sixth round pick Virgil Carter from the Bears.

Unlike Wyche, Carter wasn’t your prototypical quarterback in that he only stood 6’1” and 192 pounds and didn’t posses a strong arm. But he was smart and accurate, which is exactly what Walsh envisioned for his offense. Carter went on to lead the NFL in completion percentage in 1971 and was third in overall passing. He was the first player to successfully implement Walsh’s system.

Fast-forward to present day where Browns’ team president Mike Holmgren hopes he has found a quarterback to implement his system. Like Carter, the biggest knock on Colt McCoy is arm strength (or lack thereof). He lasted into the third round of the 2010 draft because teams were worried about whether or not he could make all the throws required of a pro quarterback. But Holmgren snatched him with the 85th pick because he too runs a version of Walsh’s West Coast system and sees a signal caller born to run his offense.

In theory, the West Coast predicates itself on using short, horizontal passes to stretch a defense sideline-to-sideline, as opposed to more traditional offenses that want to stretch a defense out vertically. In essence, the WCO uses those short passes to help open up longer running plays and create opportunities for deeper passes to be completed at a higher percentage.

But in order for the offense to work, it needs a quarterback that can read a defense quickly, get the ball out of his hands in a timely manner and most importantly, be accurate with his throws. If his passes are off the mark or delivered too fast or too slowly, the receiver’s timing is off as well and the entire play breaks down. Thus, there’s no need to have a quarterback with Aaron Rodgers’ arm strength running the show. (Although it certainly doesn’t hurt, as the Mike Holmgren-led Packers can attest to with Brett Favre.)

In the Browns’ first preseason game, you can see why fans are starting to get excited about McCoy’s potential. He completed 9-of-10 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown while running Pat Shurmur’s offense to near perfection. He looked comfortable, poised and spread the ball around with little to no hesitation. If he can carry that performance into the regular season, there’s no reason the Browns can’t at least be competitive.

Now, nobody is suggesting that the Browns are playoff bound or that McCoy is heading to the Pro Bowl anytime soon. One preseason game does not a player or team make. But for a franchise that has desperately searched for direction for nearly a decade, this is a positive start for Cleveland. And it’s not like McCoy didn’t posses these same attributes in college: His completion percentage never dipped below 65.1 in any of his four seasons at Texas, and he finished his junior season with a comp percentage of 76.7 and his senior season with a mark of 70.6. He also posses the intangibles that every team wants to see out of their quarterback, including strong leadership skills and the willingness to work on his craft (which was on display this summer when he sought out Favre’s help in Mississippi).

In McCoy, the Browns seemingly have the perfect fit at quarterback for Holmgren and Shurmur’s offense. They seemingly have found their Virgil Carter.

Brad Childress: Randy Moss “vomited” on Vikings’ locker room

Minnesota Viking wide receiver Randy Moss smiles during team warm-ups before their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, October 11, 2010. Moss was playing in his first game with the Vikings after being traded by the New England Patriots earlier in the week. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Brad Childress has admitted in the past that acquiring Randy Moss from the Patriots last year was a mistake. But he took the Moss situation a step further this week when he criticized the receiver for “vomiting on” his locker room.

“We had good guys, by and large, [but Moss] walked in the locker room and vomited on it.”

Regular readers know that I’m not a huge Moss fan. I think he was blessed with elite talent and if he had Jerry Rice’s work ethic, he could have been the best receiver to play the game. Instead, Moss picked his spots to be great. He was motivated when he first came into the league because so many teams passed on him in the 1998 draft, so he worked his ass off in Minnesota. Then he was traded to Oakland and completely shut it down. When he was sent to New England in 2007, he was hungry again to prove his worth and wound up being an MVP candidate for the Patriots. When he wanted a new contract at the start of last season and didn’t receive one from the Pats, he shut it down again and became a distraction in Minnesota and Tennessee.

But despite my feelings about Moss, I find it interesting that in the same breath Childress didn’t mention how big of a distraction Brett Favre’s situation was last year. Now, don’t make this a race thing – it’s not about race. My point is that there were tons of things that went wrong in Minnesota last year, most of which happened before Moss even arrived. So why didn’t Childress speak out about that while he was busy pointing the finger at Moss?

It’s not hard to believe that Randy Moss was a distraction and now that he’s not associated with the organization any more, Childress has the right to speak his mind. But if he’s looking to point the finger, he might as well point it at more than just Moss. Favre was a distraction from Day 1; first, nobody knew whether or not he was going to return to Minnesota because he did his annual song and dance routine for months, then he became a distraction again when the Jenn Sterger story broke. Funny how Childress says he has no regrets getting on his knees and begging Favre to come back, yet Moss “vomited” on his good-guy locker room.

Please. Childress was the root of the issue in Minnesota. The players didn’t respect him, he never had a handle on how to manage the different personalities in the locker room and he allowed guys like Favre to do whatever he wanted. The head coach sets the tone for the rest of the team and very few players in that Vikings locker room were ready to march to the beat of Brad Childress.

The Vikings may not make the playoffs this year under Leslie Frazier but I can almost guarantee you that it won’t be because the players don’t respect the head coach. And for that, the franchise is in much better shape now than it was at this point last year.

Titans ready to make Chris Johnson highest paid back in NFL?

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) breaks past Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett (58) for a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the Colts 23-20 win at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on January 2, 2011. UPI /Mark Cowan

Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said Thursday that he’s ready to make Chris Johnson the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

From the New York Times:

General manager Mike Reinfeldt told The Associated Press on Thursday that Johnson’s agent was the first person they called once the NFL’s lockout was lifted. The Titans reworked Johnson’s contract a year ago to give him more money in 2010 and promised to talk to him again a year later.

Reinfeldt says they already have talked about the perimeters of this new deal for Johnson and would like to have the running back in camp to learn the offense with a new coach while negotiations are finished.

This has always been a no-brainer in my eyes. Johnson has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL the past couple of years and arguably deserves to be the highest paid RB in the league.

It’s not like this is a risky proposition for the Titans, or at least not in the way signing a player coming off an injury or a down year would be. Johnson is only 25 and barring injury, he presumably has four or five productive years left in him. If the Titans make him the highest-paid running back now and lock him in for five years, then everyone (i.e. the player, the team and the fan base) should be happy.

Of course, there are always unforeseen issues that arise. Maybe Johnson will be upset in three years because another running back has surpassed him in terms of their contract status. Maybe he’ll get paid and shut it down like Randy Moss did when he got to Oakland. Who knows? We can only go off the information presently at hand and the information presently at hand suggests to pay the man what he’s worth and reap the benefits of having him locked up for the next X amount of years.

Apparently the Bears know something about Roy Williams nobody else does

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams watches from the sidelines in the second half of their NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas January 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

“You don’t bring a Roy Williams in here to sit the bench.”

That’s what Bears wide receiver coach Darryl Drake said in this Chicago Tribune article about Johnny Knox and his frustration over being listed behind Williams on the team’s first depth chart of the preseason.

I’d be frustrated too if nonsense like that was spilling out of my coach’s mouth.

You don’t bring a Roy Williams in to sit the bench? Since when did Williams turn into Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings or even Jabar Gaffney? I get what Drake is implying: that Williams is a veteran, has experience playing in Mike Martz’s offense and deserves the respect to see his name atop the depth chart. But are the Bears serious here?

If Cowboy fans ever wondered if Williams could get any slower than he was last year, follow him this year on that patch of dirt the Bears call their home field. This was a guy that struggled mightily trying to gain separation from defenders last season in Dallas, which oh-by-the-way plays half its games on turf. There were also times when he displayed alligator arms and lost focus as his role diminished in the offense.

Granted, the Bears have been vocal about Knox needing to get more aggressive at the line of scrimmage and fighting for the ball when it’s in the air. Plus, he’s going to get opportunities to play because Martz usually roles out three or four receivers in most sets. But the part that is confusing to me is the Bears’ overall thought process. Do they honestly believe that Williams should receive more playing time than Knox? Or that Williams gives them the best chance to win? Knox played in 88.2 percent of the Bears’ offensive plays last year and was easily their best receiver. If the coaching staff believes that Williams is an upgrade, then what in Tom Waddle’s name is going on in the Windy City?

Of course, none of this will probably matter in a couple of months. Once Williams proves that he’s not a reliable full-time starter, Martz and the rest of the Bears coaching staff will wise up and put Knox back in. Because if there’s one thing this Chicago coaching staff knows, its how to manage a receiver corps…

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