May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Terrelle Pryor (3) looks to throw during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to training camp, I believe the correct choice at quarterback is to name Terrelle Pryor as the team’s backup. It isn’t because I believe Pryor to be a star as that time seems over. Rather it’s because I believe Pryor to be the player who can win the Bengals a few games this season if Andy Dalton is forced to miss some time.
Let’s be honest, if the team loses Dalton it becomes even more unlikely they currently have another quarterback who can step in and play at a high level the next week. A.J. McCarron does possess some promise, but this is essentially his rookie season on the field after missing most of last year while rehabbing his shoulder. He did practice some with the team towards the end of the year, but didn’t take a snap in either the preseason or the regular season. Watching and learning can be helpful for young quarterbacks, but experience is the greatest teacher and McCarron has had none to date.
Cincinnati once had Josh Johnson as a backup, but Johnson largely offers only running ability. Meanwhile Terrelle Pryor is the superior running quarterback of the two, yet also possesses more promise as a thrower. Pryor has already played under Hue Jackson and fits his style better than Johnson would, so the decision between the two should be Pryor.
Deciding between Pryor and McCarron won’t be easy, but the fact is Pryor can confound teams for a few weeks better than McCarron could; his ability to run and Hue Jackson’s creativity with such a skill set can manufacture a few wins. If McCarron were the backup, then the team would be basically saying he is ready to jump into the offense and play Andy Dalton’s role, which seems unlikely at this point. Terrelle Pryor is the quarterback most likely of keeping a season alive for a few weeks if necessary.
Next: Assigning the Team's Third Tight End