This game was not nearly as close as the 21-31 final score would have you believe. It was only thanks to Matt McGloin yet again scoring at the end (twice this time) that made the score respectable instead of the thumping that it really was. There was a lot of pain and only bits and pieces of pleasing.
The largest beam of hope from this game was the performance of Khalil Mack who really seemed to have gotten his feet under him more than in the previous other two games. He was setting the edge very well, he was getting into Aaron Rodgers face, and he even had an interception. This was the type of performance the Raiders and their fans have been waiting for from the number 5 overall pick in this year's draft.
The INT came from a botched screen pass that Mack read perfectly and the ball was thrown right at his outstretched arms, but the best part of it was the timing. For that interception to come just one play after the Raiders had turned the ball over on a promising drive was really a huge play. For Khalil to have made a play at a time when the Raiders needed it most like that was something really encouraging and fun to see.
What was not fun to see was Sio Moore being taken off the field on a stretcher, though thankfully it was deemed just a neck strain when the X-Rays came back negative. It was truly a terrible moment seeing that number 55 on the ground with the medical staff all around him, with the stretcher coming out and the players in a circle nearby praying. The thumbs up was really great to see and I couldn't be prouder of my home city Green Bay for the cheer they gave him for that.
It obviously wasn't all sunshine and lollipops for the defense in the game, they were playing against Aaron Rodgers after all. Rodgers was going to get his yesterday, that was a certainty, it was always just going to be about limiting the mistakes and getting pressure against him. They were able to play well against him at times, though he also manhandled them on some of the drives as well.
It was exciting to watch the Raiders defense actually get in the backfield and cause Rodgers to have to move around and it was even better seeing the Raiders actually get a hit or two on him. I felt justified in choosing the Raiders defensive line as their biggest strength because they did make the Packers work for their yards in the passing game. The running game they didn't play as well, but that is harder to defend when you lose two starting linebackers in Sio Moore and Nick Roach to injuries.
They really threw T.J. Carrie into the fire with giving him Jordy Nelson to cover for much of that first half. He has been a very pleasant surprise even if he has made some mistakes this preseason, he definitely looks like a solid pick for a 7th rounder. Jordy is a beast player and Carrie actually held his own pretty well for much of the time, but a beast has to eat and Nelson did just that at times too.
The one touchdown pass on 4th down to Nelson had Carrie just a hair late in his recognition and then he slipped too making it an easy score for the Packers. However, Carrie did try to break on the ball and if he had been just a little faster and more nimble he would have been in a great position to make a play. It might just be homer optimism but it feels like in the regular season in that same position that T.J. Will make that play.
The offense though, man was that pitiful in the first half. Few things went right as the Raiders had play after play get stopped in the line of scrimmage. Oakland had 33 plays for only 86 yards and 40 came on one run, that is a bad showing from the starting offense no matter how you shake it. Thank goodness for Maurice Jones-Drew's 40 yard touchdown play being a sight for sore eyes, it came early in the 1st quarter but it was the only great play from the offense in the whole half.
The offensive line was the biggest problem, they failed to protect and they failed to open up holes outside of the one long touchdown run by MJD. The Packers have a talented defensive line and linebacker crew but they wreaked havoc beyond what they should have done. It really seemed like they shaped up with rookie Gabe Jackson in the game though, if it was up to me I would definitely deem Big Gabe as the starter in his battle with Khalif Barnes.
As for Matt Schaub, he did not look good. I am sorry to have to stay that, but he simply just did not look good in this game. He came out of the second half stronger but that was against more of the 2nd team players on Green Bay's roster. Schaub was uncomfortable and unexciting for basically that entire first half. It was sad watching several drives start at or inside the 50 yard line and see them go no where.
Schaub did not lose his starting job with his performance, but he did not win a lot of fans faith in him either. He really needs to play better once Week 1 starts, and this was mostly his last performance before that. If he plays next week in the final preseason game against the Seahawks it wont be for very long. This was basically his last warm up and even though it didn't go well, hopefully it was enough for him to be ready once the season begins.
Once again though, Schaub's back up in this game out shined him with Matt McGloin leading those two touchdown drives at the end of the game. It is important to keep it in perspective with McGloin because he was going against the back ups in garbage time of a blow out loss, but still he worked with what he was given. He can't help who it is he is playing against and every game this preseason he has led at least one or more touchdown drives.
There was no way that McGloin was going to get to see time against the starters because of the QB controversy that would create but it would have been really nice to get to see him have that shot. He has looked better than any other QB this preseason, though Derek Carr did have a good game before injury last week. It would have been very interesting to see him go against the better competition but he never got that chance.
He made his lemonade out of the lemons on the 2nd and 3rd string though and he spiked it with vodka afterwards by looking like he was too good to be on the field at the end of each one of these preseason games. He has made Raider Nation proud with his play and more than a few people are wondering why he wasn't given the chance to show how much he improved after starting down the stretch in 2013.
James Jones clearly was excited to be playing at his former home in Lambeau Field, though it might have hurt more than it helped him make plays. There was one play in particular that I have seen him make plenty of times with the Packers that he just missed with a jump ball attempt in the endzone. He got above the corner with his hand on the ball but just could not bring it in. It was a very tough catch and would have been spectacular but those are exactly the time of plays that Green Bay fans had come to expect from him.
Jones also almost had a touchdown catch from Schaub on the opening drive of the 2nd half but he bobbled it slightly after hitting the ground. The ball clearly moved after he hit out of bounds even though it didn't hit the ground. It was annoying, but unfortunately the rule says possession must be maintained through the catch if the player goes to the ground and he didn't do that. It is a bad rule but it exists and the play was called incomplete because of it.
The worst part about the game, assuming Sio Moore's neck is actually O.K., was the injury to Kory Sheets. It was clear that he was going through something major when he got walloped on what will end up being his last run of the season. He was playing well and fighting for his roster spot, it was very sad to see him go down and know that his season was over. His Achilles Heel that has kept him from the NFL before is untimely injuries, and this time the injury was to his Achilles heel. Good luck to him in his rehab and future.
Charles Woodson's reception at the beginning of the game was very nice with the crowd giving a huge cheer to the former Packer. It was very strange though because he was announced coming out of the tunnel, but James Jones was not. I thought that was a real shame. They tried to rectify it later by announcing James Jones at the beginning of the 4th quarter but that was too little, too late. I hope what I think was a snub at Jones, who was a key weapon in their Super Bowl victory in 2010, motivates James even more for the upcoming season.
I wasn't too happy with the outcome of this game but there were some positives at least. My girlfriend said afterwards that they played better than she thought they would considering the competition. She thought that would help my sour mood but it didn't. I want the Raiders to be as good or better than the best in the league, and yesterday they were not. Hopefully it is not a sign of the season to come, but it is hard to be optimistic when the injuries are adding up and the yardage from the starters is not.