NFL

Why is Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor not getting respect?

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You have to earn respect through action.

For guys like Cleveland Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor sometimes action isn’t enough to earn that respect.

Pryor is on pace to become just the third Browns receiver to top 1,000 yards in a season since 2006. The other two were Braylon Edwards in 2007 and Josh Gordon in 2013. Despite seeing passes from five different quarterbacks, on a winless team with basically no weapons aside from himself, Pryor has totaled 63 receptions for 858 yards and four touchdowns.

And yet, he still gets shade thrown his way from people around the league. New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins cursed him out on Twitter after the Giants beat the Browns 27-13, though Jenkins missed half the game with an injury.

Jenkins later deleted his tweet—likely because he knew he looked like a sore winner and the Giants don’t like that—but we all know how he felt about Pryor.

Pryor had six catches for 131 yards in that game, and even if he caught it against zone coverage, he caught it.

In another case, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones called Pryor “garbage” and used an actual prop to drive the point home.

 

In Jones’ defense, it was the worst game Pryor had all season, as he caught just one pass on three targets for three yards.

Still, when “Pacman” Jones is calling you out, you know there’s a lack of respect in general for you around the NFL.

It’s a bizarre set of circumstances for a guy who has been the only bright spot on an awful team.

There are likely a few things feeding the perception that Pryor isn’t particularly worthy of respect.

First, you can argue that he’s a product of being force-fed the ball.

While Pryor has been targeted 117 times, he has only caught 63 of those passes—just 53.8 percent. That’s not a great percentage, not when other players in the ballpark are, at minimum, over 55 percent and most over 60 percent.

Even guys who have had a rough season at times—Jordy Nelson (60 percent on 125 targets), Julian Edelman (62.7 percent on 126 targets) and Jarvis Landry (72.5 percent on 109 targets) have all struggled—have better percentages.

While other Browns options have caught a higher percentage though (tight end Gary Barnidge comes to mind), Pryor seems to do a better job getting open on a consistent basis.

Yes, the ball gets forced to him, but that’s in part because he has been open. It’s not as if the opposition has a bigger threat—Pryor has been it—so his ability to get free anyway should be applauded.

It’s also useful to point back to the fact that he’s played with five different guys under center—and not always high quality guys either. As much as Pryor’s catch percentage isn’t great, he sees a lot of balls which are badly thrown or uncatchable.

It’s hard to kill a guy for not catching balls thrown into the stands.

What will be interesting to watch going forward is the impact of rookie Corey Coleman because he gives the Browns a second solid target in the passing game.

And if Pryor isn’t the only option, will his numbers continue to dwindle? Is he a product of being the last man standing and if Coleman heats up, will his numbers drop?

Coleman missed a chunk of the season with a broken hand, and has slowly been getting back into a groove. He has seen a ton of targets since returning in Week 9—42 over the last five games—and was targeted 11 times against the Bengals.

Unfortunately, that translated to a whopping three catches for 26 yards. The team tried to go elsewhere with the ball on Sunday and the results weren’t good.

So will we see Pryor get his targets back this week against the Buffalo Bills? He and Robert Griffin III had a good rapport in preseason but it didn’t reappear this past week.

We should keep in mind that this is only Pryor’s second year as a full-time receiver and his first full year in that role. This is a guy still learning the position, and while he may struggle at times, he’s still learning.

Whatever Jones and Jenkins might think, Pryor has done a solid job this season. He may not be the second coming of Jerry Rice, but he’s far from the second coming of Matt Jones. On a bad team, with everything falling to pieces around him, Pryor has played well.

The league may be busy throwing shade at him and he might be putting up the numbers he is because of a lack of other playmakers, but he’s more than earned some praise for playing as well as he has on a team whose season melted down a long time ago.


About Andrew Garda

Andrew Garda is a freelance writer primarily covering NFL football, with frequent side trips to everything else. A member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he is a contributing writer for Sports on Earth and Pro Football Weekly. He also covers fantasy for Footballguys.com. Garda is the host of the At the Whistle podcast and has been credentialed for many NFL drafts, Senior Bowls, pro days and various NFL events.