Well that could have gone better. The Raiders once again lose in the preseason, falling to 0-3 on the year. While Oakland’s first-team offense looked sharp, the backups did not. The only points scored by the team following Derek Carr’s exit from the game was on a sack/fumble recovery touchdown by LaTroy Lewis. At that point, Oakland was up 20-10.
But it wouldn’t last. Dallas’ backup quarterback Cooper Rush was sharp on the night and shredded Oakland’s defense for 115 yards and two touchdown passes, including a long one to Lance Lenoir. The Raiders didn’t have much success stopping the run, as Dallas gained 127 yards on the ground led by Alfred Morris’ 56 yards. The Raiders gained only 67 yards rushing, 27 of those coming from Deandre Washington.
After the Raiders went down 24-20, Connor Cook led a final drive deep into the red zone but could not come away with six points, and that remained the final score. Cook showed a lot more than EJ Manuel in this game, and may have secured the primary backup position.
Oakland exhibited many of the same issues on defense as they have for the duration of Ken Norton Jr’s tenure. They lack pressure up the middle and cannot cover a tight end. Dallas could have passed to Jason Witten on literally every play and the Raiders still would have been powerless to stop it.
The Raiders also shot themselves in the foot in the penalty department as they always do. They were called for 12 penalties resulting in 132 penalty yards, and extended a number of Dallas drives that by all rights they ought to have stopped. It was almost a given that if the Cowboys threw an incomplete pass, a flag would be thrown.
For all the coaching staff’s talk of instilling discipline in the team and cutting down on penalties, nothing has changed. The Raiders are still, and will always be, the most penalized team in football. Tonight we saw why. The referees called some really iffy penalties, but the Raiders didn’t help themselves by making up for their lack of technique with aggression. As a cornerback, you either can cover or you can’t, and this group usually can’t. So they compensate by getting handsy. Reggie McKenzie has drafted plenty of corners during his tenure as Raider GM but he has yet to hit on any of them. Maybe Gareon Conley will be different. He has to get healthy and see the field if we’re ever going to find out. Until then the Raiders will rely on Carr and the offense to bail them out of any number of difficult situations.
Following this 24-20 loss, the Raiders will host the Seahawks in the preseason finale next week. The final (and only) cuts will be made following that game, so everyone on the field will be playing for their jobs. Let them fight.