LANDOVER, Md. -- On the first play of the game, Washington Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor had no idea the ball was headed his way. What should have been a sterling debut for him -- a likely long touchdown -- instead began a series of frustrations.
Pryor had an up-and-down day in 30-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles He still finished with six catches for 66 yards Sunday; he did have a couple tough catches in traffic. But he couldn’t locate the first ball, didn’t see another until the last second, and dropped yet another in the fourth quarter. His stats over the course of a season would result in more than 1,000 yards. But the missed plays are the ones that can elevate his status.
“I put this game on myself,” Pryor said. “I definitely let my teammates down. I’ll hold my chin up high and work harder. But I don’t like that. Right now, I’m shooting myself in the foot from dropping that ball. I’m real pissed at myself now. ... You guys can beat me up on that.”
The Redskins need more from Pryor, something he knows. He expects more from himself as well. After losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, the Redskins need a big-play target who's reliable. But in the preseason, Pryor and quarterback Kirk Cousins struggled to connect. In the opener, the big plays available weren’t made.
The good news for Pryor is he was getting open. They used him on a variety of routes, from slants to deep balls and dig routes. In the preseason, his routes were limited. So he was able to show a lot of what he can do Sunday -- provided he makes the play.
And it started with the first play. The Redskins love taking deep shots vs. man coverage, which is what Pryor faced. So he went deep.
“I didn’t know it was thrown,” Pryor said. “I was running up the hash and looking [one way]. I heard the crowd cheering so I knew it was going deep so I was like, ‘Where the hell is the ball at?’ I couldn’t see it. I think it got lost in the sun.”
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “Kirk threw it really early and I don’t think he was expecting it to be in the air that soon.”
It’s the sort of play Washington had used with Jackson to sting the Eagles in the past. Pryor can replace those big plays because he also has speed to get open deep. Jackson excelled at tracking the ball down the field and that’s what Pryor will have to do.
With Josh Doctson still working his way into the playing time -- he was their fourth receiver Sunday -- the Redskins will rely more on Pryor. He’s coming off a 1,007-yard season in his first at receiver with Cleveland. The talent is evident.
But the play that irked Pryor more was the one that Garcon used to make -- a play-action pass to the dig route. The Redskins, at their own 1-yard line and trailing 19-17, needed a big play and Pryor dropped the pass.
“I started looking to run to create a big play,” Pryor said. “I didn’t focus in because it was a little behind so I have to focus more on it. I put this one definitely on me.”
D.J. Swearinger scoffed at the idea Pryor should absorb the blame. Not when Cousins had his own issues (red zone interception), the defense allowed eight-of-14 third downs to be converted and the run game produced 64 yards (30 by Cousins).
"We just couldn't get in sync," Redskins receiver Jamison Crowder said.
For the Redskins to have a powerful offense, they’ll need Pryor to make the plays that are there for him. If he does, he can change this offense. But the reality is, Pryor, the former quarterback, is growing as a receiver. The Redskins didn't lose because of him. But, moving forward, they need him to make plays in order to win.