The game last night between the Raiders and the Saints was something less than spectacular. Its hard to pinpoint the lowest point of the game but its easy to point out the best part. It was easily the drive by Matt Flynn before the end of the first half. It was the only drive by any of the Raiders quarterbacks that was performed well.
The quarterbacks for the Raiders were thrashed, trampled and chased all around the field. Time to make plays were few and far in between, in fact time to even think at all were few and far in between. A baptism by fire for Matt Flynn as he has been reborn into a life sans Jared Veldheer along to his left.
The fire did not die down for Terrelle Pryor either as he too was flabbergasted by the onslaught of New Orleans defenders. The Raiders offensive line was utterly porous, seemingly unable to hold its own at all amongst the floods of players blitzing through their ranks. Terrelle Pryor's statline says it all, 1 of 5 for 9 yards and 3 of those incompletions were from TP being forced to throw the ball away under heavy durress.
The one good thing I will say about Pryor's poor performance is that he did not have any turnovers. He was under extreme pressure but he did not force any ill advised passes like his interception in game 1. That proves once again that he is learning at an impressive rate. He did not have any eye opening plays like in his first game either though except for one run where he showed his elite speed to get around the corner for a first down.
Comparing quarterbacks is always a tough thing to do in preseason games where the two players had inequal amounts of plays. Flynn had a lot of nothing going on before his final drive came where he collected more than half of his misleading statline and Terrelle was not in the game as long. Still the excuse of less plays meant little when it was used in Flynn's defense in game 1 just as it means little in Pryor's defense in game 2. You're judged off of what you do with the time you got and in this game it was clear that Flynn played better.
There will be complaints about this assertion and they are likely to be loud. They also are wrong. Flynn's statline being 12 of 16 for 124 yards and a TD reads a lot better than he played. Still, despite the misleading numbers they do prove in this game he was easily better than Pryor's 1 of 5 for 9 yards passing and 4 rushes for 15 yards. There should be no argument with that much proof staring at you. Would you rather a 117.7 QB rating or a 39.6 rating?
Accountability is important and Matt Flynn is not immune to it though. We need to hold all of these players accountable for their performances. He seemed oblivious to the rush at times in this game and needs to play better. Him missing the TE Mastrud for an easy TD on the first drive was almost as inexcusable as Pryor's interception in the endzone in game 1. Missing Mastrud changed the entire tone of that game, and hitting him there would've really helped prove to this fanbase he is a worthy starter.
It is kind of funny looking at his 12 of 16 statline and trying to accomodate how he had a bad game into it. It doesn't seem possible after the fact for that to have been a bad game. Its amazing what one drive can do. It wasn't that he had a bad day once the ball was in the air, it was that he had a bad day getting the ball into the air really. Actually saying he had a BAD day is a stretch considering the pressure he was under, but if that is how the Raiders OL is going to be this year he will have to get better at dealing with it.
For Flynn though it all comes down to that final drive. He finally got into a rhythem and he ran that two minute drill perfectly. He had pressure some but he actually had a bit of time to throw and made them pay for it. It wasn't enough to win over his doubters but even the staunchest critic should be able to look at that drive and see the potential he has to lead this team. Fans won't always see it the same way but just looking at that one drive, if the team could play that way consistently then we would have a lot less to argue about.
As for the offensive line I hope this will get chalked up as fatigue with the news of Veldheer's injury being still so raw. That can't possibly be the real level of talent for an NFL offensive line. If that is the level of skill the Raiders will be counting on then this season will be more than just long, it will be unbearable. There is not much more that can be said other than that the whole line was an embarrassment last night.
Speaking of an embarrassment, did you see CB Tracy Porter's performance before his potentially serious groin injury took him out? I can see how he hurt his groin, he was being turned around and burned every chance Drew Brees had to throw at him. He was twisting like a rag doll as he was caught out of position time and time again. To be fair nobody knows his weaknesses better than Drew Brees who played against him in practice for 4 years. Hopefully this performance was an anomaly and Porter's injury isn't as severe as it looks. I wish him a quick recovery both physically and with his ego after the bashing he took yesterday on the field.
At least Jack Crawford came to play! After a rough training camp Crawford was all over the field making plays. He really put his name back on the map for earning a roster spot after he had started to lose the patience of many. Him and David Bass both had excellent games for the second team defense which played much better than the starters. Could be from not playing against Mr. Brees though, maybe that helped a little. Maybe a lot.
Darren McFadden has still not done much this preseason. For a guy foregoing contract negotiations to prove his value on the field he is definitely starting off slow. That will happen with an epic collapse of the offensive line but still he will need to show more than this to earn his desired payday. He doesn't have holes to run through so its hard to be too critical, but then again we have let him off the hook like that before too often.
It is time to hold these players accountable and its not just the OLine that didn't perform well in this game. In all honesty it'd be quicker to say who played well over who played poorly in this one. The whole team needs to get better, that includes both Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor. At least the run defense performed pretty well throughout the game.
Game 3 of this preseason is not going to get any easier as they face another tough oppenent in the Chicago Bears. It will be a good test for what the team will have learned after the lackluster game they just played against the Saints. If Terrelle Pryor wants to force a tough decision for his coaches he is going to have to throw the ball a hell of a lot better than he did last night.