On Saturday the Raiders will host the Los Angeles Rams in their second contest of the preseason. The Rams will be a welcome opponent for the Raiders much maligned defense. Rams quarterbacks Jared Goff and Sean Mannion will not present the same challenge Arizona’s Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, and Blain Gabbert did last week.
In the Rams preseason opener vs the Cowboys, they led off with an opening touchdown though it required some help from the Cowboys special teams players.
The Cowboys extended the Rams first drive with a muffed punt. Special teams turnovers are of course common at this stage of the of the preseason as younger players are getting more opportunities.
The Rams followed that good fortune up by recovering their own receivers fumble in the end zone. That forward fumble was one of their 5 fumbles from the first half. Ball security will certainly be a point of emphasis in the Rams practice this week.
The Rams offensive line was the obvious weak link in their first game.
Here the Cowboys left defensive end simply beats the Rams left tackle with an inside rake. Quarterback Sean Mannion is on his back before he even gets a chance to survey the field. If Raiders EDGE defenders Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin play in this game the Raiders coaching staff may end up with a highlight reel in their coaching film.
The more important match up will be the impact EDGE players James Cowser and Shilique Calhoun have when they are in the game. The Raiders coaching staff would like to be able to rest Mack and Irvin during regular season games but need viable back ups in order to do so. For his part Cowser has looked stronger this season and both did well setting the edge in the Arizona game.
The Rams offensive line did not just struggle in pass protection, they couldn’t open up running lanes either.
The play side defensive end does a great job of maintaining gap discipline as the back side end has great pursuit. The Rams did gain 108 rushing yards in this game but they required 28 carries to get there.
The Raiders back up defensive line should be able to control the line of scrimmage against this offensive line. After the great performance they showed against Arizona it is hard to believe they will not be able to do the same in this game. It will be interesting to watch the tape after the game and see who really showed dominance against a unit with less talent.
On paper this is also a great chance for the secondary to prove their struggles from week one were simply growing pains and those issues are behind them. The Cardinals were able to attack the Raiders secondary and make them look foolish at times.
If the Rams have the same level of success it may be time for the Raiders to worry about their secondary in the 2017 season. The Rams only managed 166 passing yards and went 3-15 on third down. They were far from a model of efficiency.
The Raiders secondary issues in the first game seemed to be more execution and communication based. They will undoubtedly be focused on correcting those breakdowns this week. The Rams did show an ability to scheme and execute against man coverage which the Raiders played quite often in their first game.
Here they isolated their receiver against the Cowboys man coverage and simply ran a slant to pick up one of their three 3rd down conversions. How the Raiders play the Rams receivers will be rather telling of the coaching staffs confidence in their players. This is an offense the Raiders secondary should be able to lock down man to man. If the coaching staff plays mostly zone it could indicate they have lost some faith in their players abilities. It is highly unlikely that will be the case though.
If there was ever an opponent the Raiders defense would hope to play, it is this one. A young quarterback with a struggling offensive line should help regain the teams confidence. Playing in front of their home crowd should make it that much more enjoyable.