ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — After watching the success athletic quarterbacks had this past season in the NFL, new Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson wants to see if he has one of those dual-threat runner-passers on his roster.
Olson said Wednesday it will be important to see what Terrelle Pryor can do for the Raiders during offseason workouts and minicamps to get a better sense of what the Raiders have at quarterback.
While starter Carson Palmer is a known entity with more than 120 games and nearly 30,000 yards passing to his credit, Pryor is more of an unknown who showed positive signs in his one start in the season finale in December.
Now the Raiders want to know whether Pryor can do for Oakland what Colin Kaepernick did for San Francisco across the bay for the 49ers.
"If you have a guy that can stay there and play 65 plays a game and do those things and also be able to throw the ball from point A to point B accurately, if he possesses those skills as well, then you certainly have something," Olson said. "So that's what we'll have to find out with Terrelle Pryor. We know what kind of an athlete he is. We need to find out what kind of decision maker he is, and we need to find out if he's a guy that can also sit in the pocket and deliver the ball from point A to point B accurately and on time and making the right decisions."
Running quarterbacks have been all the rage in the NFL the past two seasons with Kaepernick leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson also having success mixing drop-back passing with a read-option running game that puts stress on opposing defenses.
The Raiders spent most of last season with a more traditional offense with Palmer under center. Pryor got into for a few plays late in the season before finally getting the chance to start in the final game at San Diego with Palmer sidelined by cracked ribs and a bruised lung.
Pryor went 13 for 28 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 24-21 loss to the Chargers. He also ran for 49 yards and a score and looked more than capable running the offense.
"I like the ceiling of Terrelle Pryor and where we think he can get to, but his skill set is completely different than Carson's, so we go forward with the idea, we know what Carson Palmer is. He's played in the league a number of years. We know what he can do," Olson said. "We don't really know quite yet what Terrelle Pryor can do at this level but we have a good feel for what he is athletically, so there will be packages for both of them to allow them to compete and we'll just be ready in either direction."
Factoring into any decision is Palmer's $13 million base salary for 2013. The Raiders might look for him to renegotiate that deal to make it more salary cap friendly.
Assuming Palmer remains the starter, the biggest change on offense will be at coordinator where Olson takes over for Greg Knapp, who was fired after only one season after Oakland's scoring average dropped by four points a game and the team finished 4-12.
Knapp brought in a zone-blocking system and a version of the West Coast offense that proved not to be well-suited to the players on the roster, especially running back Darren McFadden.
After averaging more than 5 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons in a power-running system under Hue Jackson, McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season — the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season.
Olson said he will bring back the power and gap running plays that McFadden excelled in in the past and let Palmer throw deep off play-action.
"You've got to be able to be flexible and adapt your system to the players that you have at any given year," Olson said. "So, our job as a coaching staff will be to identify the skill set of the players, who are our best players, what do they do best, and how can we put them in position to be successful and do what they do best."