Unfortunately for Oakland Raiders fans, they did not play as well in their 2nd game of the preseason as they did in the opener. They lost the game 20-12 against the Minnesota Vikings, but that wasn't the part that was a little discouraging. The thing that was most frustrating throughout the game was the lack of discipline from the Silver and Black, and it is guaranteed coach Jack Del Rio is going to be a little peeved about it too when he looks at the game film.
The Raiders had a very clean first game of the preseason last week against the St Louis Rams, however they were unable to duplicate their performance last night against the Vikings. The Raiders only had 1 penalty against the Rams, however they followed it up with a whopping 13 penalties for 106 yards. Winning or losing in the preseason doesn't really matter, but getting 13 penalties in a game definitely does matter even if it is a preseason game.
Whether it was Derek Carr moving around too much during his hard counts causing false start calls, players lowering their helmets on defenseless receivers, or just good old holding calls it seemed like the flags just kept on coming for Oakland. I don't necessarily agree with the penalty on the Brandian Ross hit on Chase Ford on the 2nd touchdown for the Vikings but he did lower his head and that is against the rules.
Little things like that can easily make and break a team so you can bet on the coaching staff starting out this week of practice with an emphasis on cleaner football. It is going to be very hard for any team to win a game when they have 13 penalties, it is unacceptable and hopefully we will see an improvement again next week against the Arizona Cardinals.
As far as the game itself, my favorite play came from the 2nd team defense early in the 2nd half. Ben Heeney timed his delayed blitz absolutely perfectly to lay out the Vikings back up QB Taylor Heinicke, it was another excellent play from the rookie linebacker this preseason who got credited with a forced fumble on the play as well which was recovered by Shelby Harris.
However, the fumble on the play really seemed like it should have been credited to another rookie for the Raiders, 2nd round pick Mario Edwards, Jr. The defensive end out of Florida State got around his man and managed to swipe at the football from behind right at the same time as Ben Heeney made contact with Heinicke. Whichever player really caused the fumble, it was really fun to watch two rookies team up for such an awesome strip sack.
Speaking of rookies, the one we all are most excited about had his first long reception of the year. Amari Cooper only had the one catch on the game but it went for 40 yards and was a great route that got him behind veteran cornerback Terence Newman. The play was challenged and stood as called, though it was a questionable catch as it was hard to tell if Cooper got both feet in bounds on the way to the sideline. The call went his way but he will still need to adjust to needing two feet in bounds in the NFL compared to just the one foot needed in college.
Another receiver who stood out for the 2nd straight game was UDFA rookie Seth Roberts. He had a nice catch and run for 39 yards, a nifty 6 yard end around run near the goal line that set up the 2 yard TD from Latavius Murray and he got behind his man for a long pass that just barely went off his finger tips. He got a good yelling at from Derek Carr for missing that catch, but the ball was a little bit overthrown even if it did glance of his hands. It was another strong performance by Seth Roberts anyway in his battle to make this Raiders roster.
As for a defensive player to spotlight, we turn our way to D.J. Hayden. Unfortunately, he is being spotlighted for bad reasons more than good. He was victimized repeatedly by Vikings starter Teddy Bridgewater throughout the first quarter, including on a perfect back shoulder pass into the endzone for the Vikings first touchdown.
Hayden actually had very good coverage on that touchdown but the ball was placed perfectly where DJ had no chance to defend it. Still his man had 4 catches for 40 yards on the day, and he had an illegal contact penalty on 3rd down which extended one of the Vikings drives. It was not a good day for Hayden and he really needs to start stepping up his game as the starter and leader among the Raiders cornerbacks.
As for a position battle that is still alive and well, look no further than the race for the number 2 Quarterback spot. Matt McGloin and Christian Ponder are locked in a very tight battle here, there is no doubt about that. Ponder went 7 of 11 for 69 yards in this one where McGloin went 5 of 7 for 20 yards. The biggest difference in this game though, McGloin's very first pass was a very ugly interception. After clearly winning this battle last week, McGloin's interception gives the victory in game 2 to Christian Ponder.
Before some fans in the comments section jump to McGloin's defense on that interception with the inevitable "He got hit!" comments, the ball was being thrown into a crowded middle of the field anyway. He was nudged as he threw the ball, but he shouldn't have been throwing it there anyway. It was a very bad interception even is he was hit when he threw it, and it definitely will be looked at as a negative play of his when the coaches go back to figure out who will be the number 2 QB.
There were some good things in this game too, it wasn't all bad. It is great to see the defense swarming around as often as they are with multiple people tackling the ball carrier. They look very good against the run, though screen passes still very much need to be worked on, and the secondary will continue to get better with the more experience they get under their belts.
The offense looks good with Latavius Murray running the ball, he just seems to sneak through holes that other backs are not able to. The difference between Latavius Murray and Trent Richardson is so obvious it is ridiculous. Trent Richardson looks slow and stiff where Latavius is nifty, quick and powerful. in fact, the difference between Michael Dyer and Trent Richardson running the ball in this one was pretty apparent as well. Richardson really needs to play better if he is going to make the team.
All in all, this game was mediocre for the Raiders and one they will happily move on from. The second preseason game isn't one that does a lot of game planning yet so that they didn't look great isn't as big of a deal. Also, having a one hour weather delay doesn't help with the rhythm or timing of the team either. Next week will be week 3 of the preseason where the starters play the longest and there will be game planning so it is the best look of what they expect to be like in the regular season. They have a good test at that against the Arizona Cardinals, hopefully they come out with a more disciplined and prepared team.