I think I can speak for all Raider fans when I say that I really would have liked to see some points scored this past Monday versus the Dallas Cowboys in the Raiders 1st preseason game of the year. A 3-0 slop fest is not exactly what I wanted, but still there are some definite positives to be taken out of this game. Some definite negatives too, but overall I felt like this was a positive step forward.
The first thing I would like to point out is that yes only 5 penalties is a very good first performance under Dennis Allen for disciplinary purposes but there is still a lot of ground to cover to be where we want to be. . It showed on the field that the new coaching staff is indeed trying to solve our penchant for drive killing/extending penalties though.
There were a few penalties that the replacement officials did not call which I believe the regular officials would have, such as Mike Mitchell pulverizing the Cowboys 3rd string QB McGee on a 3rd down play. It was a close call on how long the ball had been out of the QB's hands on that particular play, and you can bet your bottom dollar in a regular season game if that hit was on Peyton Manning the yellow would have littered the field.
There were also a couple of plays that were close calls in the secondary, but all in all it was a pretty clean game for the Raiders. If we average only 5 or fewer penalties a game I believe we will be a playoff team. What I did like most about our fairly penalty free game is that we did not have any unnecessary roughness penalties or other kinds that happen with a lack of discipline in a heated moment.
Somebody who had a somewhat promising game in my opinion was Lonyae Miller. There has been a mixed bag of reception for Miller's performance, but I think it showed he will be capable of being the change of pace back. When he first came in the defense was still used to McFadden's speed and was noticably slow at adjusting. Miller had a few decent runs before the defense closed the holes quicker on him. Miller also showed that he has some pretty decent hands coming out of the backfield with his 3 receptions.
Lonyae is not an every down runner and that was painfully obvious after the defense started hitting him at the line of scrimmage more times than not but that is not the role we want him to play. He did not have a great game but he had a game that showed that he has potential to make some plays for the Raiders. He also had at least one excellent blitz pick up where he stood up a linebacker that was coming at him full speed.
Rod Streater had an excellent game with his 6 catches. It certainly appears he will be one undrafted rookie free agent to make the team but there was another UDFA on defense that caught my eye. That was Chad Kilgore. He had an excellent play on a 4th and 2 where he knocked the pass down while in the QB's face on a blitz. He also had a number of plays where he never gave up chase on the ball carrier. That is the type of effort I love to see and I am certain that the coaches took notice of that too. Even when it looked like he had no chance at making the play he still was going full speed to the action. He has an uphill battle to make the team but he certainly increased his chances of doing so Monday night.
Jacoby Ford. What on earth was wrong with you in that game Mr. Ford? The deep INT on the first drive was a slightly over thrown ball so I will forgive him for not making that play, but the other 2 drops annoyed me quite a bit. The first drop was bad enough, but the quarterback comes directly back to you on a 3rd down play and you drop it again?! Not to mention a complete lack of positive yards on his returns, including a muffed punt.
That all is completely unacceptable for such an important weapon, and I am certain Jacoby would be the first person to tell you that. I think he will return to the Ford we have grown accustomed to but this was not a good way to start. I expect him to come back with authority this Friday in the second preseason game. I also believe part of the problem was that he had to start with Denarius Moore not able to play, where assuming the Raiders are healthy he will be mainly playing from the slot.
The quarterback play was OK all around. Carson was throwing everything too high though so he needs to settle in. Leinart was the most impressive, really commanding the offense well. Matt was right on for quite a few of his throws and it was nice to see him look good back in California.
There are plenty of late bloomers and Leinart still has a chance to be one of them. He was never really given a great shot in Arizona where they wrote him off for Kurt Warner and he is just trying to show that he deserves another try somewhere. Hopefully we wont see him on the field but if we do its nice to have the best back up QB the Raiders have had in years.
Terrelle Pryor was great with his feet, but he needs to get his eyes downfield more. He was running for his life half the time and doing a good job at getting away from would be tacklers but we need him to be able to readjust better after the initial pressure. Once the pressure came he was all about running, even though on a few he did so good at eluding the pressure that he could have had a few more seconds to look for an open receiver.
Something that actually really impressed me about Pryor was his footwork. He really seemed to have a good drop back and decent strides. He certainly is still a project to work on his decision making but his talent is undeniable. I also especially liked his tenacity with not being afraid to go right at the defender. He is a big guy with a whole lot of speed and a pretty nice stiff arm.
This game was not what we had hoped for and the entire team needs to get a lot better, but at least its a start. Its nice to see a coach come in and actually try to improve the penalties. We had a lot of talk throughout my entire lifetime about improving the penalties, but this time there actually seems to be some action. The defense is looking strong and the linebackers played better than I expected. It was especially nice to see Travis Goethel out there making some plays. There was a new drive in general with the defense to get to the running backs which was really nice to see.
The offense needs to score some points, but the offense needing more work is to be expected with a defensive coach. The offense will catch up in time, but we can not be putting goose eggs up on the scoreboard anymore. It was only the second preseason shut out in Raiders history, so I expect on Friday we will see the Raiders actually score some points. They better, because although I am not concerned about it right now if they have another game with little to no scoring on Friday I will not be so confident.