OAKLAND — Who is a better quarterback for the Raiders, Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor?
That is the question in today's Raiders quiz. I could ask many more questions: Can Darren McFadden stay healthy one whole season? Can the Raiders' secondary defend? Will the Raiders win, say, five games? There are just so many questions where the Raiders are concerned.
But in the interest of concision and clear thinking, and so you and I don't run out of breath, I am cutting through the underbrush and the weeds, and I'm asking one key, specific question. Who is the better quarterback for the starting-yet-again Raiders?
The data is scarce. It's based on Friday night's exhibition game between the Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
Flynn played two series and led the Raiders to a field goal. He also fumbled and lost the ball. Pryor played the rest of the first half. He led the Raiders to a field goal but also threw an interception in the end zone. Those are the basic facts.
Now for the wrinkle. You love a wrinkle, right?
The competition between Flynn and Pryor strongly reminds us of the competition between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. And this calls for an apology.
I sincerely apologize for writing about the Raiders in the context of the Niners. It's mixing football metaphors and it's unfair to Raiders fans. It's just that, unless you've been living under a rock the past few years, you know about the Smith-Kaepernick dichotomy, the game manager vs. the electric talent, the steady reliable nice man vs. the dashing daring adventurer.
This duality we understand. And as the league changes and as more teams use the pistol formation and the read option play, the Smith-Kaepernick conflict becomes more relevant every day.
Before we get to Flynn vs. Pryor as an example of Smith vs. Kaepernick, it's important to talk about Superman. Please be open-minded as we analyze this Earth-shaking quarterback issue. If you are a Superman aficionado, you know about Bizarro. Bizarro was the mirror image of Superman. But there was something wrong with the poor guy. He was a degraded version of the Man of Steel. I mean, he was bizarre.
I don't mean to say Flynn and Pryor are bizarre or Bizarro, but they are an image of Smith-Kaepernick, a carbon copy (do you remember carbon paper?), and not the real thing. So, when we talk about the Raiders' quarterbacks, we have entered an alternate universe. Call them the Bizarro quarterbacks — and please remember, Bizarro had super powers of his own.
Matt Flynn is the Alex Smith part of the equation. That's obvious. He is businesslike, alert, efficient. He sees the field well. Like Smith, he needs a good running game to support him. So do most quarterbacks. But Flynn moves the team well like Smith and, like Smith, he is the quintessential game manager. You don't expect fireworks from Flynn. You also don't expect him to blow himself up.
He spontaneously combusted in the first quarter when he got blitzed and lost the ball, and the Cowboys eventually scored a field goal. But this was merely an exhibition game and he doesn't get a failing grade for fumbling. And his passer rating was good.
He is not as good as Alex Smith. Smith was the first player taken in the draft, and Flynn was drafted in the seventh round. He had been the backup to JaMarcus Russell at LSU, kind of ironic for the Raiders. He played two good games for Green Bay and parlayed those games into big money. All in all, he is the Bizarro Alex Smith.