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A Pryor Engagement

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Washington Redskins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There is no way around it, 2017 was not a good year for Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. After putting up a wildly unexpected 1000 yard season in 2016, Pryor was surprisingly not wanted back by his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Pryor ended up signing a relatively modest (for a 1000 yard receiver) one year, $6 million contract with the Washington Redskins. Though the deal was not what Pryor hoped for or expected, having Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball rather than the motley collection of has-beens and never-weres the Browns had been fielding at the game’s most important position surely had Pryor gleefully anticipating what was to come in 2017, and the big payout likely to follow in 2018. Alas, the best laid plans of Browns and men ...

Pryor struggled through a highly disappointing 2017 campaign. Injured almost from the start and rarely fully healthy, Pryor never found his groove in Washington, putting up just 20 receptions and 240 yards in nine forgettable games before the season mercifully ended for him with a trip to the injured reserve list. This had to have been a bitter disappointment for the talented Mr. Pryor, who now faced an uncertain future coming off an injury and a disastrous performance and moving swiftly towards football middle age at the age of 29. One year removed from his breakout campaign with the Browns Pryor could only obtain a one year $4.5 million dollar prove it deal with the Jets.

The disappointing 2017 campaign has many Jets fans overlooking the fact that Pryor posted a 1000+ yards campaign just a year earlier. Some point to the fact that even in Pryor’s 2016 season it took 140 targets to reach those 1007 yards, not exactly the most efficient wide receiver campaign ever. This is true, but it perhaps overlooks an important piece of the puzzle that is Pryor. In 2016 Pryor had the following football immortals throwing him the football: Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan, Charlie Whitehurst and Josh McCown. A veritable cornucopia of quarterback ineptitude. Outside of the marginal McCown, not a single starting caliber quarterback among them. So let’s look at what Terrelle Pryor did with the only decent quarterback, Josh McCown, throwing him the ball. McCown played 4 games in 2016 in which he threw at least 15 passes. In those four games Pryor had games of 97, 101 and 131 yards, and totaled 361 yards on 20 receptions in 44 targets, with an enormous 18 yards per catch average and a more than respectable 8.2 yards per target. Prorated over a full 16 game season that would result in 80 catches for 1444 yards. Anyone interested in a receiver who can do that? Contrast that with Pryor’s 57 receptions for 646 yards on 96 targets (11.3 yards per catch and an anemic 6.7 yards per target) with all the other Bears quarterbacks and we can see the difference having a sort of legitimate quarterback throwing him the ball made for Pryor in 2016. And it’s not like Pryor put up his McCown numbers against a bunch of terrible pass defenses; he faced the NFL’s 2nd, 13th, 14th and 30th rated pass defenses in terms of passer rating allowed in those games, and the biggest game of his career, 6 catches for 131 yards, came against the 2016 New York Giants’ #2 rated pass defense.

On the other hand, four games is a tiny sample, pro-rating stats is a dangerous game, and it is entirely possible the four game run with McCown is just statistical noise. Playing with a better quarterback in 2017 in Cousins, Pryor completely bombed, albeit with the excuse of a bum ankle. So which Pryor can we expect to see in 2017? The Pryor who torched the NFL in four games with the guy who just might be his starting quarterback for much of 2018, Josh McCown, depending on rookie Sam Darnold’s development, or the Pryor who looked lost in an injury riddled 2017 campaign with a new team and a better quarterback in Kurt Cousins? I have no idea, but it will be fun finding out, and maybe, just maybe, Pryor has not had his last engagement with the 1000 yard club.