Nhat V. Meyer / San Jose Mercury News

Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor appeared for three plays in the second quarter Sunday. His future is a priority for general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Raiders' victory helps now, hurts later

Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - 6:42 am

OAKLAND – They dominated a former rival, snapped a six-game losing streak and earned bonus points for posting a shutout.

Upon close observation of the scoreboard, the Raiders on Sunday looked fabulous.

They don't look nearly as good, though, once you back away from their 15-0 win over Kansas City and see how it puts a pimple on the face of their next draft pick.

That's good reason for Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie to have mixed emotions, even if coach Dennis Allen undoubtedly needed this win to at least temporarily calm his nerves.

As much as the Raiders' players wanted a win as a reward for months of effort, the future of the franchise was threatened in the process.

And in Oakland, in December, the future counts more than anything else. Hope for the playoffs died weeks ago, and the front office is spending the final month of the season analyzing the roster and making a list of needs for 2013 and beyond.

That explains quarterback Terrelle Pryor's three-play cameo appearance in the second quarter, as well as the game-day deactivation of linebacker Rolando McClain, who is coming off a two-game suspension and will not, and should not, return next season.

"The plan," Allen said of Pryor's actual NFL debut, "was to get him in the first series of the second quarter and then kind of let the game play out from there."

Pryor's future might be one of Allen's thoughts, but it's one of Mc-Kenzie's priorities. He said during a recent interview that Pryor must play, if only to be fairly evaluated.

Therein lies the difference between Allen's primary goal and that of McKenzie. One is paid to win now, the other to win indefinitely. One focuses on the close-up; the other has to back away and take a broader view.

McKenzie and his associates also are focused on the upcoming free-agent market and the next draft, and this victory could make it considerably less attractive.

Oakland entered the game with the third-worst record in the NFL, behind only Kansas City and Jacksonville, firmly in possession of the No. 3 overall pick. By walking away in triumph, the Raiders joined a gaggle of teams that will hold the rights to pick as low as 11th in the first round.

For a Raiders team with so many needs, that would represent a significant drop.

By improving to 4-10, Oakland moved into a tie with Detroit and Philadelphia and possibly Tennessee, which plays tonight.

Moreover, being 4-10 brings the Raiders within one game of five 5-9 teams: Arizona, Buffalo, Cleveland, Carolina and San Diego.

In the short view, Oakland is that much closer to 6-10 – instead of 3-13.

For Allen, that's the only way to view it. He's coaching as if the actual games have meaning because, for him, they do. Though he is not in danger of losing his job – assuming players' criminal behavior is not a factor, McKenzie must give the first coach he hires more than one season – there are vanity points to be had. Records are still being kept.

Asked if it was time for assessments, Allen said it was not.

"We've got two more games left this year," he said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Monte Poole



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