The Terrelle Pryor in the NFL Debate… Size Isn’t Everything

June 14, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

On February 6th, 2008, every high school football senior in the country with hopes of playing at the next level had to make a decision. It was National Signing Day, where those recruits commit to the college program they wish to be a part of.

Every recruit, that is, except one.

A quarterback out of Jeannette, PA, by the name of Terrelle Pryor thought he was special, and that the rules of everyone else didn’t apply to him. And so, while everyone else was announcing their intentions for the fall, Pryor decided that he would not make his announcement until more than a month later, on March 19th.

We should have seen it coming then.

Terrelle Pryor has fallen right in line with many other phenom talents who are targeted at a too-early age as the next great athletic superstar. Throughout their formative years, when most kids are learning very important life lessons about maturity, responsibility, and accountability, these teenage “superstars” are instead being told they are ‘special’. Exceptions and excuses are made on their behalf for their mistakes, and before you know it, they are shut off from the rest of the world, living within the bubble of “I am better than everyone else.”

Think about the recent antics of other children (which is exactly what they are) who were thrust far too soon into the limelight that is sports stardom – LeBron James and Bryce Harper quickly come to mind. All of these amazingly talented athletes may be physically prepared for the rigors of top-tier athletic competition, but none have shown the maturity necessary to cope with those rigors, and none have demonstrated an ounce of consideration for anyone around them, DESPITE the fact that they all play TEAM SPORTS.

Still, we hope with each new kid brought to us by ESPNU or Rivals.com as the ‘next great thing’ that THEY will be different. We continue to blindly believe the myth that age naturally brings wisdom and maturity, when so many before them prove time and again that is just not the case in sports. We believe that a kid who hasn’t even gone to prom yet can manage a multi-million dollar lifestyle, when most adults aren’t capable of it.

And with every new revelation made about the misdeeds of Pryor and his cohorts while at The Ohio State University, it becomes more evident that he has continued to behave as though the rules just did not apply to him. HE was the superstar, and everyone else should be grateful that HE is a part of their system.

So it came as a surprise to no one when he once more ducked out on accountability and consequence by running away from the NCAA.

Once again, while his so-called ‘team’ will be suffering the wrath of the NCAA, Pryor gets to just walk away, untouched by sanctions that will largely (if not entirely) be levied specifically because of his actions.

Terrelle Pryor is special, and the rules don’t apply to him.

Does that sound like someone an NFL General Manager, Head Coach, or FAN would want on their organization?

Character issues to the side now (which are more than enough to turn any NFL GM off to the prospect of Pryor as a member of their organization), there are plenty of reasons from a performance standpoint that would ALSO be reason to look the other way when Pryor and new agent Drew Rosenhaus come knocking at your team’s door.

Yes, Terrelle Pryor is a physically gifted athlete. He undeniably has the build required to play in the NFL, and is an all-around athlete. His combination of size and speed are what got him noticed in high school, and what led the Buckeyes to an amazing 33-6 record during his three-year tenure with the program.

But for Pryor, the REAL story is not in the wins, but in the losses. His poor decision making ability in many of those games led to very costly turnovers, some of which decided the outcome of games.

When Pryor is leading a juggernaut team against the bottom-feeders of the NCAA, it is easy for him to look good. The talent of the team around him, and the support of a stifling defense that was the hallmark of Ohio State football under Jim Tressel, all compensated for Pryor’s inability to make good decisions.

He extends plays far too long, creating opportunities for the defense to force turnovers, and he forces passes into areas that should not be tested. That is why his ratio of barely more than two TD passes for every interception pales in comparison to TRULY successful quarterbacks of recent years such as Cam Newton (4.3 TDs to every INT), Sam Bradford (5.5 TDs per INT), or even fellow Buckeye Troy Smith (4.2 TDs per INT).

With very few exceptions, any time that Terrelle Pryor found himself in a pressure situation with the game resting on his shoulders, he failed to deliver. Instead, he USUALLY committed a costly mistake which actually hurt his team more than if he had done nothing at all.

And to top it all off, the projection for his pro potential is not even at the position he played in college. You see, everyone knows that he can’t hack it as an NFL QB, so they are instead HOPING that his size, speed, and strength will make him a successful weapon somewhere (anywhere) on the field.

So if I were General Manager of an NFL franchise, and was presented at the supplemental draft with the opportunity to draft a low-character, poor decision making, selfish, prima donna attention-seeker who will have to learn an entirely new position because everyone already knows he cannot be successfull at the only position he has experience in, my answer is a resounding ‘NO THANK YOU!’

The best thing for Pryor AND for the NFL would be for him to spend a few years in either the CFL or the UFL, developing some strong character traits, and proving to the world that he is more than just hype and bad publicity.

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The 2010 NFL QB Insurance Debate… Clausen’s Reliable In A Pickle

July 27, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

The Carolina Panthers enter the upcoming season with one of the most unproven quarterback units in the NFL. With the departure of longtime signal caller Jake Delhomme, a 25-year old Matt Moore ascended the top of the depth chart and will more than likely begin the season as starter. Still wet behind the ears, Moore must transition from young gun to veteran while he breaks in a receiving corps undergoing changes as well. While rookie receivers Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards figure to breathe new life into the seemingly stagnant Carolina passing game, they could also pose hurdles for a young quarterback struggling to come into his own. So, despite being armed to the tooth with stellar weapons on offense – such as the one-two punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, plus perennial standout Steve Smith – the Panthers could struggle without an experienced leader under center. But have no fear Panther fans, because the Cardiac Cats have an ace-in-the-hole with rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Clausen serves as the best insurance quarterback in the NFL for a number of reasons. He’s confident, motivated, and supremely talented. That is a killer combination of attributes for a young quarterback to possess. The Panthers obviously believe in him, too. In fact, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney even tried to trade up in the draft to acquire him even earlier. He is in a great spot in Charlotte. His skill set and the team’s needs seem to be a match made in heaven. Clausen is without a doubt the future of Carolina, but in the meantime he is a terrific backup plan for Matt Moore.

Since Clausen is the future of the team he is obviously more than just a flashy stopgap. For starters, the Panthers appear to be committing to his long term development by allowing him to grow before immediately taking the reins. John Fox and the gang are easing him into the position and are not rushing him into the starting gig prematurely.

Matt Moore led the Panthers to four victories in the last five games in 2009. His emergence as the projected starter for this season allows Clausen to focus on his own development rather than a position battle. It buys the rookie precious time during a crucial stage in his maturation. Currently, the former Notre Dame star sits third on the depth chart behind Moore and former practice squad quarterback Hunter Cantwell. This placement should minimize some of the external pressures that Clausen might feel from the organization to shoulder the team immediately. But, Clausen being the competitor that he is means that he is bound to put plenty of pressure on himself to contribute an succeed right away.

In all likelihood Clausen will surpass Cantwell for the primary backup gig by the end of the pre-season. The team is currently allowing him to progress outside of the spotlight. So far it appears to be paying off. He is already showing signs of maturity and poise. Critics have often labeled his confidence as cockiness, but recently he has avoided the headlines and focused on developing his skills and simply fitting in with teammates.

Of equal, or perhaps even greater, importance to Clausen’s value are the talents and experiences he brings to the position. On a team where experience is in short supply – only eight total NFL starts among all QBs (all of those belong to Moore) – Clausen’s playing time at Notre Dame serves as a valuable substitute. While he may never have played an actual down in the NFL, he did pass through former head coach Charlie Weis’ pro style offense. That should help improve the rookie’s learning curve and make him an even more valuable backup. Mix that with the fact that Panthers’ offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson was a former assistant to Weis, and the kid’s future starts to look even brighter. Clausen said of the transition, “Being in the system with coach Weis, and with coach Davidson coaching with him in New England, it’s the same terms and everything. It definitely helps me a lot.”

I am sure it did not seem like it on draft day, but Clausen could not have found a better home than Carolina.

Of course all the praise remains completely preliminary until he actually plays a down of real NFL football. But, the writing for success is on the wall. That type of upside makes for a stellar backup plan and insurance for an unproven quarterback such as Matt Moore.

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