Each season when the Raiders preseason schedule comes out, there are familiar names on there. Almost always are the Seahawks and Cardinals on there due to their reasonably close proximity to Oakland. And since Reggie McKenzie has come on board, the Raiders and Packers have scheduled annual preseason games as well.
That leaves one remaining preseason game to find an opponent. Ideally, it would be a team they don’t play that season. But for some odd reason, this year that other opponent is the Titans – a team they face a month later in the third week of the regular season.
Making matters worse, it’s the third preseason game when both teams will be trying to actually game plan for the opponent, while simultaneously trying not to give away too much.
“It’s unique, especially to play them so early,” said Raiders offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave. “If we were playing them in November or December, we’d probably just brush it under the rug. The fact that it’s going to be so early in the season and in this game we really want to be our dress rehearsal and trying to give our players a feel for what the regular season might be like, we just gotta be smart in a lot of different areas.”
Both the Raiders and Titans are in the same boat, here. They both need to prepare their teams for the season properly and yet both must play hide and seek this week to keep from tipping their hands to the opponent. And with the starters expected to play the first three quarters of the game, that becomes more difficult.
“We both understand what it is,” Jack Del Rio said of the two teams’ approach. “We’ll go in and we’re going to play our guys, you know we need the work. But obviously both sides, I’m sure, will hold a few things back. You’re not going to show everything you want to do in the regular season in a preseason game.”
In the first two preseason games, the Raiders were ‘vanilla’ in their play calling and focused on working on specific things, especially with the first team offense, while evaluating the talent on the team. And that will be the case again in the fourth preseason game.
The game week routine this week won’t have the same feel as it normally would. It will have the strange variable thrown in. Hopefully it won’t disrupt their season preparation.