After back to back close-but-not-quite losses in less than a week, the Raiders’ 2013 season is all but over- at least in terms of any possibility of making the post season.
The Raiders still have four games left this season, however, and head coach Dennis Allen indicated that he will be using the last quarter of the season to evaluate the team for next year, especially his two quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin.
Allen said, “We need to have a good evaluation of what we have at the quarterback position as we move forward.” He added, “These last four weeks will be instrumental in us being able to do that.”
Both Pryor and McGloin have had good moments and bad but neither is a clear-cut starter at this point. Pryor, who started most of the first half of the season, is big, strong, fast and one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL but seems to have regressed as a passer as the season went on.
McGloin is practically his opposite: short, average arm, and not especially athletic. However, he is a gritty competitor and has shown good anticipation and timing with his receivers. The passing game has looked much better with McGloin under center than with Pryor.
Does that mean that the Raiders will go with either as their starters next season? It shouldn’t.
The 2014 draft looks to be stacked with good pro prospects and, with the Raiders being unable to win more than 8 games in 2013 (and with that total extremely unlikely), the Raiders will likely be in good position to draft a quarterback in April, should one they like fall to them.
It’s understandable that Allen doesn’t completely know his quarterbacks, however, as neither has had much time under center in games. You can expect to see a good amount of both in the next 4 games, as Allen attempts to get a good handle on his quarterbacks by the end of the year.
For what it’s worth, Allen did announce that McGloin will continue to start for now, saying, “I don’t think he’s done anything to play himself out of that position.”
The Raiders need to evaluate more than simply the two quarterbacks, however.
Jared Veldheer was back playing this week for the first time since he was injured in preseason. By all accounts, he aquitted himself well on Thursday, but he will be a free agent at the end of the year and the Raiders will need to make sure he’s fully recovered before possibly re-signing the left tackle.
On defense, DE Lamarr Houston looks to be a priority. However, he has been hot and cold this year and he’ll need a solid final quarter to build his value. On Thursday versus the Cowboys, Houston was essentially a non-factor, ending with 2 tackles but failing to get to quarterback Tony Romo or provide much of any pressure the entire game.
There are a great many of players that signed one year contracts with the Raiders this year, too, that need to be evaluated. They include FS Charles Woodson (who may or may not want to come back), CB Tracy Porter, DE Jason Hunter, C/G Andre Gurode, CB Mike Jenkins, RB Rashad Jennings, TE Juron Mastrud, DT Daniel Muir, RT Tony Pashos, S Usama Young and DTs Vance Walker and Pat Sims.
Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie will have to evaluate these players to see which are worthy of bringing back for another year or more. Therefore, much of the team has incentive to keep playing even when the Raiders become officially eliminated from the playoffs, which is all but assured to happen.
Allen agreed that the team should continue to be competitive. “When you watch us play and you watch us work every day, there is absolutely nothing that would give me any indication that there is anybody in that locker room that has any give up in them,” said Allen.
He added, “I understand where we’re at from a record standpoint, but these guys have gone out there and given us everything that they’ve had every single week. I continue to expect to see that for the last four weeks of the season.”
After the season ends, the real work will start for McKenzie, who will finally have more money to use in 2014 and needs to build a team with more talent from top to bottom than he’s had in his first two seasons.