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The Morning After: Raiders vs Lions Preseason Week 2

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Ezra Shaw

When it comes to preseason games, wins do not actually matter. Not normally anyway. When it is a last second victory though it does add something more to it, that type of excitement and drive definitely matter.

Say what you will about Matt McGloin, but the man is a fighter. His attitude and fire have been fun to watch ever since he first put on the Raiders uniform, and if you are a Penn St fan then you have been enjoying watching him since even before that. He put the team on his back and would not take no for an answer, not from the refs, not from Andre Holmes dropping passes. He willed his way to victory and shrugged afterward like it was nothing.

As good of a game as Matt McGloin played though, he still isn't any closer to moving up the depth chart in my mind. Matt Schaub played well and Derek Carr was looking unstoppable until he got crushed from behind. McGloin will keep on fighting because that is exactly who he is and that is what being a Raider is all about, but he still has an a tough job in front of him to move up the depth chart for Oakland.

Speaking of Derek Carr though, man was he impressive yesterday. His ability to throw on the run while rolling out really was a thing of beauty, his underrated athleticism was on full display on several of those throws. He also doesn't seem to have a problem at all with being under center instead of in the Shotgun like he was in college and he is willing to stand tall in the pocket. 

Now his willingness to stand tall in the pocket was excellent at times, but also was a detriment too. He needs to improve his pocket awareness of when to move out of it, and not feeling the backside pressure was why he ended up not being able to finish the game. He also still needs to plant his feet better and work on his mechanics, but that should be expected of a rookie.

There were lots of things to be very happy about while watching his game yesterday, he looked like a star in the making to me. Before the concussion took him out of the game and signaled the entrance of Matt McGloin it definitely felt like Carr was on his way to leading the Raiders down the field for the score. It is impossible not to like what he showed capable of in this game.

Matt Schaub didn't play terrible either in this game which was really nice to see. Derek looks like the real deal but sitting might help him out and having Schaub allows that to happen. Schaub looked like the veteran player the Raiders were hoping he would be when they traded for him. It had looked like he was going to drive them down the field for points right off the bat but a good defensive play ended the drive on an interception. He is still firmly entrenched as the starter.

The more we get to see Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden together the more exciting it is becoming. They talked all off-season about making each other better and they both have played well in limited preseason opportunities. Having two different backs capable of taking screen passes to the house at any time is going to be something special to watch for throughout the season.

The battle between Kory Sheets and Latavius Murray is also still raging strong. They both are making enough plays to warrant keeping them, so much so that the Raiders have to be considering actually keeping both on the roster. It isn't that often that Oakland would decide to keep 4 running backs, especially with being likely to have 2 fullbacks as well, but it is such a tight battle that they might end up doing exactly that. Both players are worthy of their roster spots anyway, that is already apparent.

The Raiders passing defense though was absolutely terrible throughout that first half, it was embarrassing at times. Tarrell Brown specifically is really struggling so far and he really needs to step it up against the Packers next week. He got burnt last week by Cordarralle Patterson, this week by Golden Tate, but next week will be his biggest challenge against the tandem of Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers. It isn't time to worry yet about him, but he is the number 1 cornerback on this team so he needs to show he deserves that label next week.

Brown was not the only player struggling though, Matt Stafford was a freaking surgeon against whoever he chose to attack. He only had one incomplete pass and that was an on target screen pass that dropped by the running back that was bottled up by the defense anyway. Stafford is a really good quarterback but it is not acceptable to allow him to do whatever he feels like. It is even worse to allow Dan Orlovsky to continue doing almost whatever he wanted too.

At least the 2nd half the Raiders defense was able to finally start making some plays against the Lions second team but that only gives so much comfort. They are a long way away from being regular season quality but they only have 2 preseason games left to get up to par.

Khalil Mack played deep into the 3rd quarter until he finally got his sack and he followed it up with a run stop for a loss too, now we need to see him do that against the starters next week. It was a good move by Dennis Allen to keep Mack in until he made a couple of plays though to get his confidence and motor back up to where it needs to be. Now that he has his first couple of great plays under his belt hopefully it will help get him on a roll.

All in all it was a fun, exciting game for the Raiders. Any time you can get a game winning drive in the final seconds it gives that special feeling in each member of Raider Nation's hearts. The wins don't matter in the preseason,  it is how you play instead. They played hard and they got rewarded for it. Now they need to build some momentum and come out with the same energy in the beginning of next Friday's game against Green Bay.