ALAMEDA -- Maybe you are a Raiders fan. Maybe you are getting excited about Terrelle Pryor and his quarterbacking. Maybe you are thinking that by the end of this season or early next, Pryor will be an awesome NFL force along the lines of Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III.
Maybe you should calm down.
No question, Pryor is providing the Raiders just what they needed in his first season as a starter -- a welcome dose of bright and buoyant optimism. He's won two of his last three starts, including Sunday's victory over Pittsburgh that featured his yowza-wowza 93-yard touchdown run.
Also, while Pryor's passer rating of 77.2 in six games might not be spectacular, it is better than the current passer ratings of Tom Brady (74.9) and Eli Manning (68.4).
It is only natural, then, for you to wonder where Pryor stands on his development timeline as we compare him with the more established names in the wave of new quarterbacks.
Sorry. Raiders coach Dennis Allen does not want you to do that.
"The tendency to compare goes on outside of this building," Allen said Monday. "Our focus is how do we take Terrelle Pryor's skill set ... he's Terrelle Pryor, he's unique. He's not somebody else, that somebody might want to compare him to."
That is a smart approach. It is also not the approach I intend to follow.
The NFL is all about comparisons -- especially on the weekends when teams line up to compare themselves against each other, with violence involved. The NFL also publishes weekly statistics that compare players, at every position and in every category.
In my mind, therefore, it is fair game to gauge where Pryor is in relation to the other quarterbacks of his generation. Pryor is 24. That makes him a year older than Washington's Griffin, a year younger than the 49ers' Kaepernick and the same age as Seattle's Russell Wilson and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck.
News flash: He isn't as good as any of those guys. Yet. But if you are instead comparing the Pryor Of Today with the Potential Future Pryor ... well, there are enough hints that he might nudge himself into a discussion with those other quarterbacks in, say, 2015 or 2016.
The most positive signs are not even about technique. One is that Pryor clearly is working hard to get better and is saying all the right things as he expresses his desire to follow coaching guidelines. Another is that Allen and his staff have been systematically monitoring Pryor's progress. There is a plan in place.
"I wouldn't say that we have a sheet of paper, a list of things to check off on a weekly basis," Allen said. "But, yeah, there's things that we look at with him as a quarterback."
"His ability to get us in and out of the huddle," Allen said. "His ability to get us to the line of scrimmage. His ability in some of our quarterback-read schemes ... is he making the right reads? How's his pocket presence? Is he giving his protection enough time? What's his footwork like in the pocket?"
All of it makes sense. Pryor has had issues in some of those areas. Sunday, the biggest issue was that after his 93-yard run and some good middle-distance completions that led to the Raiders' second touchdown, he was not very effective. He still has difficulty with accuracy when he's moving out of the pocket to his left. It led to one of his two interceptions Sunday.
"I think he's made some significant strides," Allen said. "But I also think there's a lot of room for improvement ... The thing I want to see out of him the most is really the consistency."
The good news for the Raiders is that Pryor clearly has the talent to make better things happen -- and all of his deficiencies can be corrected with diligent and time-consuming effort, the sort that he seems to embrace. With his form, it's a matter of repetitive drills, in and out of season. With the other stuff, it's a matter of video study.
Sunday, a small but impressive moment was the way he handled postgame questions about Allen's decision to play the second half so conservatively, holding Pryor's pass attempts to a minimum.
"I don't judge my coaches," Pryor answered. "Whatever they call, I believe in. To me, it made sense that we would hold the ball and try to run and get first downs because our defense was shutting them down."
That sounded like a pro. Meanwhile, Allen's assessment of Pryor's status also sounded like an NFL franchise being honest about an asset.
"We need to put him in position to accent his strengths," Allen said, "and try to limit the time that we ask him to do things that maybe he's not quite as good at."
It is such a change from the Raiders in the old days. Often, the front office tribe of Al Davis would become way too excited about a quarterback (or any player, really) after a few good performances and tout him as an example of the team's drafting brilliance. The Raiders aren't claiming Pryor is their next Super Bowl quarterback. But if and when that consistency arrives, they have every reason to believe he can get them back to the playoffs.
Contact Mark Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org.