Well, that wasn't very impressive. Penalties dooming drives before they even start, inability to stop a mediocre QB from driving at will, no rhythm or consistency on offense. I thought the team was suppose to be better, not exactly the same as last year!
Even with the emotions bubbling and picturing worst case scenarios off of last night's game, it was only the first preseason game. It was an ugly, boring, and mostly poor performance but many times that first game of the preseason plays out that way.
Though there were not very many bright spots in this game, there were a few of them. The biggest bright spot came in the form of two of the 7th round rookies with DT Shelby Harris and CB T.J. Carrie. Shelby hustled throughout the game and showed some impressive speed and agility for a big guy to go along with some serious power. Carrie was on his man consistently and played the ball nicely in the air a couple of times and also showed he wasn't scared to go after making tackles.
Besides those two rookies the next player that popped out quite a bit on the screen was CB Chimdi Chekwa. It has been fun to watch the growth of Chekwa throughout his career and his work ethic seems to be paying off. He continues to get better and now looks like he is a capable corner in this league. That is something that many of us never thought possible after a very poor rookie year but he has worked hard at his craft.
I also really liked what we saw out of Lamarr Woodley in the short amount of time that he played. He was in the action quite a bit while he was on the field. He got into the backfield a couple of times and into the quarterback's face, and he was just a step late in defending a screen pass. Had he been just a second earlier with his jump he might have been able to snag the ball and take it back himself which would have changed the game all together. He looks like a great addition to the team.
Khalil Mack didn't really do much in his debut for the team, but if you watched close you did get some glimpses of his speed and play recognition. He came out of no where to almost recover a fumble and he teamed up with Sio Moore on a nice play in the backfield to stop a run but that was about all that was noticeable on his part. That is pretty normal though, it takes time to get into a groove.
Matt Schaub didn't look great, but he didn't get a lot of help either. He had a couple of on point throws dropped and a couple of not quite on point throws that could have been caught missed. Mychal Rivera had two third down plays that were behind him but plays that need to be made in the future.
What actually was most exciting for me though was the rushing attack, and that is a very positive sign even in an ugly game. They only ran the ball 18 times but they managed to average 4.8 yards per rush in the game. With the talk of the off-season being about the Raiders plans to focus on running this year, it is very encouraging to see them being successful in that area even while having a bad game overall.
Maurice Jones-Drew was very exciting to watch in fact. He looked like he was running with passion and aggression again, and he looks ready to be a focal point of this offense. His arrival also could be having a positive effect on Darren McFadden too who broke off one of his best runs that we have seen in a couple years (not saying much) with a 23 yard scamper with a nice stiff arm at the end.
Latavius Murray had a couple of nice little runs in there too but in the next game I would like to see more of Kory Sheets. Sheets didn't really start seeing action til the end of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th quarter but he did show off a nice ability to wiggle through the middle of the line without a lot of space. It will be interesting to see if that was the product of playing against the 3rd stringers or if he has that talent in general.
Derek Carr looked off, but that is to be expected from a young quarterback in his first action. He did show off his nice arm in a couple of longer throws that looked like a simple flick of the wrist though. His one interception was a bad throw that went too high to the back in the flat but it wasn't as bad as if he had picked the wrong receiver to throw to or tried forcing the ball in. Despite the poor performance in the game overall I still walked away being impressed with the potential that Carr has.
In summary, this game sucked and didn't look better than last year's product. It was only the first game though and there is a lot of improvements that can be made before they play the first real game. They now have tape of themselves which will help them improve and hopefully put on a better performance in the 2nd preseason game.
Sometimes it is better to learn from the mistakes you make and there were certainly plenty of those in this game. Now it is time for the team to go back to the drawing board and work out all of these kinks. That is what the preseason is for, though a couple more performances like this will definitely make the optimism around here start to fall drastically.