With the Colts hosting the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon, we'll start our weekly "Five Questions" article with Levi Damien, head writer over at Silver And Black Pride, SB Nation's Raiders blog. As an aside, he wants to thank the Colts for allowing Peyton Manning to set up shop in the AFC West, especially after last night.
You can read my answers to his questions here, where I talk about Darrius Heyward-Bey, how the Colts will handle Terrelle Pryor, and whether "tanking" should be all-the-rage in the NFL.
1) The QB situation in Oakland has made the biggest news this offseason, especially with Matt Flynn signing as a Free Agent again, only to get beaten out in camp. Do you think the Raiders are making the correct choice in starting QB Sunday? Will we see both QB's at some point during the game?
There is a case to be made for Terrelle Pryor starting. After all, Flynn did nothing to win the job outright and Pryor adds an extra dynamic with his supreme athleticism. The offense is going to struggle regardless of which quarterback starts but at least Pryor is less likely to be killed behind that beat up and struggling offensive line. If Pryor ends up looking truly terrible, Flynn is a good option to come off the bench. He is slow to get into the groove of an offensive game plan and did his best work in spot duty with a firm grasp of the offense. If Pryor starts as is suspected he will, you will probably only see him.
2) Darrius Heyward-Bey had a mostly disappointing four seasons in Oakland, which can be attributed to many different things. What do you think the main reason was? What can the Colts expect from him this season?
Sure, one can spread the blame around a bit for DHB's poor showing in Oakland, but mostly it is his severe limitations catching the football. He is a hard worker, but some things you just can't teach. He has never been a true deep threat because he lacks the ability to catch a ball over his shoulder or go up high for a ball. He is fantastic after the catch and he has improved his hands. He is also less likely to do his signature leave-his-feet-gut-catch than he used to be. But you'll see it rear its ugly head now and then. I expect the Colts do get the best out of him and approaching 1000 yards isn't out of the question.
3) It seems since Al Davis's passing the Raiders have been much more patient with their front office and coaching staff, not firing people seemingly on a whim. Not following Oakland that closely, was the plan all along to slowly build the franchise back up to where it historically has been?
That has been the plan, yes. They don't use that bad word "rebuilding" because they don't want to scare fans away, but in the two seasons they have been here, each season has involved a gutting of the team. They are taking their lumps right now and living on a shoestring budget. They have set themselves up to make a push next season. Until then, it could get really rough.
4) Last season, the Colts were a nearly unanimous choice as the worst team in the NFL before the season started, and somehow found a way to win 11 games. This season I've seen the Raiders have that dubious distinction on several different websites. The Colts used it for motivation last season. Is there much talk that the Raiders are taking that personally and want to prove a point?
It seems like every player they brought in has a personal motivation to prove themselves. They personally embody what the team embodies as a whole. That's the kind of mentality Reggie McKenzie was looking for in building this team this year because that mindset is their best chance to win. They won't win on pure talent. They will win with heart.
5) If you could take one player off of the Colts to play for the Raiders, who would it be and why? If the answer is Andrew Luck, who would your second choice be?
Well, yeah, it would be Luck. After that it's tough so I will go with a couple receivers on two opposite ends of their careers - Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton. Wayne even at 32 is better than any receiver on the Raiders' roster and TY Hilton looks fantastic so far and I think he has a very bright future. Also, would you guy mind if the Raiders borrow Anthony Castonzo? They kinda need a left tackle right about now. You can have him back when Jared Veldheer returns.