Whether he is ready or not, Terrelle Pryor must inherit the QB role for the Raiders in 2013. Barring a trade or free agent signing for a different QB, there is no better time for Pryor to start. Pick Six Palmer needs to go.
The question is, who will help develop Pryor? New Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson does not have a notable track record in developing QBs. Olson has been a QB coach in the NFL for several teams. He has also been an Offensive Coordinator with several NFL teams. Here's the thing. Nothing stands out with the guy. As one example, Josh Freeman struggled with the Buccaneers under Olson. Then Freeman really came alive when Olson was replaced by Ron Turner as QB coach. That's just one example. If a QB is successful only after his coach is fired, what does that tell us? Why do we need another unsuccessful retread leading the offense and coaching the QBs?
Regarding why Olson was hired, I will credit Levi Damien (prolific Raiders blogger) for catching this statement made by Dennis Allen via Paul Gutierrez of Comcast Sports Bay Area.
"I like his demeanor, I like his philosophy I like the way he wants a tough, physical and yet explosive-type offense. And I liked the fact that the fact that he talked about, we've got to fit the scheme to the personnel, to the guys that we have and try to do the things that they do really well. And really limit the times that we ask them to do things that maybe they aren't as good at." Well, once again, I will preface this by saying I am not a professional football guy. BUT, I do know incompetence when I see it and that my friends is evidence that Dennis Allen is the wrong man for the job. He's not even qualified to hire at Burger King. If the guy cannot or will not evaluate talent, instead, go by his convictions and generic nonsense, then there is no hope at all he will succeed as a head coach.
Olson played QB in college (then again, so did Greg Knapp). John De Filippo is the QB coach on staff for the 2013 season. De Filippo is as underwhelming as Dennis Allen is. Coach Flip is a young guy and capable of running drills. That's about it. The problem is you need some achievements to go along with your resume. Just having NFL experience does not add up to what we need which is to develop Terrelle Pryor or any draft pick brought in to win and win now.
The real shame of it all is the Raiders could have done a lot better than Olson.
Offhand, I can think of five available coaches with better qualifications, actual accomplishments in leading teams, being both a mentor and a leader of players. Who knows if these guys would be interested but here's who they could have at least interviewed:
Tressel, Shea, Tedford and Ault are top notch QB coaches with the credentials to also lead an NFL offense. These are the types of guys you want analyzing your QBs strengths and weaknesses, prepping him for the system you want to run and teaching the guy along the way.
Here are my fantasy candidates as GM after I fire Dennis Allen and Reggie.
Jeff Tedford: He had a good run of success at Cal but eventually washed out because he did not recruit a good enough QB to succeed Aaron Rodgers. He never matched his success after Rodgers left. However, Tedford is a gifted QB coach as well as offensive strategist. He knows how to groom players. Numerous Tedford players have moved on to the NFL with success. I get the sense if he was handed a pro offense, he would get it done.
Chris Ault: Arguably, an even more gifted offensive strategist than Tedford who won games with far less talent and resources at UNevada. And yes, Ault won even without Colin Kaepernick. Ault was the man at Nevada for several decades. He did it all as player, AD and head coach. His pistol offense is now used all over the U.S. at every level. This guy would step in and make a difference in Oakland. He has the all around skills set you want. He can relate to players with his knowledge and affable personality, coach to the talent on board and design game plans around strengths.
Terry Shea - A dynamic coach who has been around a long time (like Ault has). Shea coached Jeff Garcia at San Jose State and also later in the CFL. Shea's forte is developing QBs but he is an offensive mastermind as well. There is no doubt Shea has seen it all and can therefore prepare an offense as well as anyone in the NFL. Shea would be the senior level hire the Raiders need to instill a sense of structure (which is obvious they do not have under Dennis Allen).
Mark Mangino: I admit he is the longshot of the bunch but the guy has a great track record of building winners. He deserves a closer look. He got the most out of his players at UKansas. Mangino raised the Jayhawks from dormancy by instilling a program of hard work and discipline. He just wasn't disciplined enough with his own behavior to keep it going. It would be interesting to see what he could do with a pro level offense with players expected to behave like professionals. Mangino is big on character. He might have a problem identifying with the aloof mentality of many pro athletes. Still, it would be a pretty intriguing experiment.
Mangino was Offensive Coordinator with Oklahoma when they won the 2000 National Championship with Josh Heupel as QB. That has to count for something. I am getting the impression Mangino has been humbled by his dismissal from Kansas. I could be wrong and he could very well return to his blustery firestorm ways when he returns to coaching but I like him.
And the guy I would probably hire in my fantasy GM role:
Jim Tressel: Is there a better candidate to mentor Terrelle Pryor? Hardly. My bet is Tressel never even showed up on Reggie or Dennis Allen's radar to fill the Offensive Coordinator position and that is a shame. Tressel is a guy who has consistently won everywhere he has been. He was considered among the best of the best college head coaches at Ohio State for a long time. It all came crumbling down due to what? His players exchanged jerseys for tattoos? Who cares? Anyone who thinks that's a crime or breach of ethical rules needs to seriously get a life. No seriously, check your own past mistakes and see if any of them are less flagrant than not peering down so deep into players' lives to see if they gave jerseys away for tattoos.
Sadly, Tressel has not caught on elsewhere as a viable coaching candidate since that undeserved fall from grace. In a perfect world, he would be installed to run the Raiders offense. I would even put him as head coach.
Mark Davis said "I know what I don't know". Let me offer what I do know: The Dennis Allen experiment has not worked out. Another 4-12, 5-11 or even 6-10 season won't get it done. Meanwhile, plenty of experienced, winning head coaches are available to replace the mistake. Jim Tressel is more than qualified to take that challenge on.