Immediately following the San Diego Chargers' win over the New York Jets, I started thinking about Terrelle Pryor. Pryor is a bit of a project, even though he was heralded as "The LeBron James of football" when he announced he was signing with Ohio State.
He also had a successful career at Ohio State (on the field, anyway), leading the team to a 12-1 record and a Sugar Bowl win during his Junior season. After running into some issues over trading some game-worn souvenirs for tattoos, Pryor jumped into the supplemental draft and found himself as the third-string QB of the Oakland Raiders.
Now, normally, I wouldn't care about a third-string QB. Except, Pryor is potentially another Cam Newton. He has the same size, speed and athleticism. The Raiders are spending these twilight years of Carson Palmer's career teaching Pryor how to read defenses and become a better passer (he was already pretty good, completing 65% of his passes in 2010).
Anyway, Palmer is hurt this week which means that Matt Leinart moves up into the starter's role and Pryor becomes the backup....or maybe not. It appears that Dennis Allen, after watching tape of the Panthers' destruction of the Chargers, has pulled back from his initial statement of Leinart as Sunday's starter and is splitting snaps between the two QBs at practice. It could be a decoy, it could result in Pryor starting or it could just mean that Pryor will get some "wildcat" like snaps during the game. Either way, it's not good for San Diego.
Neither Team is Any Good
Did the Chargers look good beating the Pittsburgh Steelers a few weeks ago? Yes (Bet you didn't realize that the Raiders also beat the Steelers, did you?). Does that make them a good team? No.
In fact, the Chargers looked terrible in a win over the New York Jets, but the Jets looked worse. That game was won by a good defensive line (for SD) and a horrendous offensive line (for NY). If the Raiders can find a way to protect their QB (they gave up 3 sacks to the Chargers in Week 1), this becomes an evenly-matched game that anyone can win.
Playing for the Coach
Just about every time I've mentioned how these last, meaningless games should be used for evaluation, it's been met with at least one person saying that there's no point for Norv Turner and A.J. Smith to be evaluating these players. That's true, and the young kids that don't already have NFL game tape of them don't seem to be getting a chance to get on the field any time soon. That leaves pending free agents and Philip Rivers (trying to get back into good habits) as the only players on San Diego that have something to play for.
The Raiders are in the opposite situation. They're playing lots of kids and the team is playing for a coach that is sure to be back next season. That could be the little bit of extra motivation that puts the Raiders over the top in this matchup.