SEATTLE — If this story seems all too familiar for Matt Flynn, well, it is.
While Flynn sits on the bench and rests a sore elbow tonight, Terrelle Pryor will get his opportunity to earn the Oakland Raiders’ starting quarterback job when they close out the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s almost the exact scenario as a year ago when Flynn entered training camp with the Seahawks expected to be their No. 1 quarterback, only to see Russell Wilson race past him on the depth chart and nab the starting nod.
Now, Flynn will be stuck as a spectator watching if Pryor can close out an impressive preseason and solidify his case that he should be the starter when they open the season at Indianapolis.
“I’m going to keep showing the coaches what I can do good and keep getting better at the things that I’m not doing so good at, and that’s something that I can clean up on and get better at,” Pryor said. “That’s the thing, I’m definitely not all the way there in terms of the playbook and in terms of just being a quarterback out there. I’m learning still. Don’t get me wrong, I can lead if I was called upon to do it. I’m just out there get
ting better and trying to get in synch with the guys.”
Flynn thought when he got his freedom from backup duty in Seattle after his trade to Oakland during the offseason that he’d finally be a starter. That was supposed to be the case when he signed with the Seahawks during the 2012 offseason as the biggest free agent quarterback not named Peyton Manning. That was also before the Seahawks drafted Wilson in the third round and watched him earn the starting job through a dynamic preseason that was validated in the regular season when he led Seattle to 11 wins and a road playoff victory.
Flynn was slowed during the 2012 preseason by a sore elbow and the same problem could be at the root of what gives Pryor his chance to solidify the job.
“We’ve gotten a lot of time to evaluate that position. When you look at OTAs, when you look at the mini-camps, when you look at what we’ve been through in training camp, the three preseason games we’ve played already, I don’t think that’s necessarily going to make that decision any more difficult,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I think there’s been some competition. I think both of them at times have done some really good things. Both of them have done some things that need improving. That’s really where we’re at with the quarterback position.”
Flynn has not been bad during the preseason and has played with and against starters. He’s completing 70 percent of his passes, but threw two awful interceptions last week against Chicago and has been sacked seven times. Playing against mostly backups, Pryor is completely only 58 percent, but has avoided the sacks and has brought an added element with his ability to run. Pryor goes into the final preseason game as the Raiders’ second-leading rusher with 83 yards rushing and their only touchdown on the ground.
Fans were chanting for Pryor last week in Oakland while Flynn struggled. Pryor said his emotions were mixed hearing the calls.
“Obviously you want to be on the field and play, but you also have feelings for a guy that you’re in a room with,” Pryor said. “I’m in meeting room with the guy 13, 14 hours of a day. I didn’t think they went about it the right way. I went in and they got what they wanted, but I thought it could have been a better way, not booing him and stuff like that.”
While Pryor’s chance at the Raiders’ QB job will be the focus, Wilson is likely to only make a cameo appearance as the Seahawks prepare for the opener at Carolina. Wilson played into the second half last week at Green Bay, and despite throwing a pair of interceptions was pleased with his performance and what Seattle’s offense accomplished.
The priority for Seattle is cleaning up a penalty problem that has seen it flagged 34 times in three preseason games.
“I think the biggest thing is being really disciplined with our offense and making sure that we don’t get any more penalties,” Wilson said. “I think that’s our No. 1 thing, our No. 1 focus.”