The Raiders’ preseason Week 2 is in the books, and the Raiders lost a game 19-15 that they didn’t care to win and probably didn’t care to play in at all. With the Rams on the schedule in Week 1, the Raiders played it close to the vest, showing off their younger players but none of their playbook.
But who came out on top, and who was a total flop?
1) Chris Warren III
What a game from the young man out of Texas. The last time a Raider wore the number 34 in the LA Coliseum, it was Bo Jackson, but today it was like Bo never went away. Warren ran with strength, confidence and authority.
Warren rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on only 18 carries. He also caught a pass for seven yards. It’s abundantly clear that Warren is an NFL starter caliber player, and the days are numbered for the other backs on the Raiders roster. Warren absolutely has to make the final roster. What more can he do to prove he belongs?
2) John Kelly
While the Rams have their starting running back spot sewn up by the dynamic Todd Gurley II, John Kelly did more than enough today to show that he should be in line for plenty of carries himself. He was outshined by Warren, but Kelly rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown himself. The talented rookie out of Tennessee was a steal in the draft and he could end up like Michael Turner, who backed up a star in San Diego before getting a starting role in Atlanta later in his career.
3) Marquel Lee
The middle linebacker spot for the Raiders was addressed in the offseason by signing former Chief Derrick Johnson, but it might be Lee who has been the most impressive Raider linebacker in camp, and in this game as well. Lee had five tackles, four solo and one for loss and a sack as well. He is a far cry from the little lost lamb he was last season, and he could be the Raiders’ middle linebacker of the future.
4) Gareon Conley
Conley didn’t play a whole lot, only in on a couple series at the most, but he was out there, in uniform, playing! He showed good speed and technique, with tight coverage on his man and forced an incompletion on the first series. He also assisted on an open-field tackle. His potential is really through the roof and if all goes well he will get more playing time next week against the Packers.
1) Shilique Calhoun
If you hadn’t watched this game, you’d think Calhoun had a decent game. He had three solo tackles, two for loss, and two QB hits. That’s what the box score says. But Calhoun was also called for a couple personal foul penalties, including a facemask on the Rams’ final drive that basically gave the game to Los Angeles. Calhoun does some good things, but he also does some really boneheaded things that are going to get him cut sooner or later.
2) Backup QBs
This game was a bona fide shitshow when it comes to the performance of the backup quarterbacks on both sides. Oakland’s Connor Cook and EJ Manuel each lost a fumble and neither one were particularly impressive. LA’s Sean Mannion was a dumpster fire and Brandon Allen was just as bad, going 6/11 for 68 yards and an interception by Preseason God James Cowser.
I lived in Oregon for the entirety of Sean Mannion’s Oregon State tenure and he was really good, with a big arm. In the NFL he just overthrows everyone and isn’t accurate enough to get by. Connor Cook has the opposite problem.
3) Fans who enjoy hitting
Early returns are in on the new “lowering the helmet to initiate contact” rule, and they are VERY BAD. The refs don’t seem to know how to implement the rule in real time, and the players don’t know what is a legal tackle and what is not. The rule so far has been a complete disaster just like the catch rule was at first. Maybe they take a second look after preseason, but for now it’s turning football into a non-football-like substance.
4) Raiders backup offensive line
The Raiders allowed four sacks and five QB hits, which led to the two Raider fumbles. They didn’t allow very many clean pockets for the Raider quarterbacks today and the downfield passing game wasn’t able to get going. I mean, it’s possible that the Raiders never wanted to go downfield in this particular game, but even if they’d wanted to they couldn’t have done so. The Raiders only passed for 107 yards while rushing for 114, so they did a good job blocking for Chris Warren but didn’t protect the QBs well at all.
Special mentions to go to the Raiders coaching staff for being winners inasmuch as they made actual halftime adjustments and put this team in a position to win, and Pharaoh Brown for being a loser inasmuch as he had two costly holding penalties while wearing Tim Brown’s jersey.