Greetings, Raider Nation! The game against the Packers is finally over, and it’s well past all of your bedtimes. The game started late and was made longer by the clock stopping on every play for a penalty flag. But now that the slog of a game is mercifully over, who was a hero and who was a zero?
1) Raiders defensive line
The Raiders had five sacks tonight, and four of them were from defensive linemen. Fadol Brown led the way with 1.5 of them, and he was too much to handle all night long for the Packers’ offensive linemen. Maurice Hurst shared a half sack with Brown, and the other two were from Shilique Calhoun and Trayvon Hester. The Raider defensive line kept up the pressure for the entire game, allowing only 73 rushing yards and making the Packers QBs run for their life on a regular basis.
Furthermore, when Arden Key was in the game he spooked the Green Bay tackles so much that he caused two false start penalties and got held another time. They wanted no part of Key.
2) Chris Warren III
Warren again led the Raiders with 15 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. The Packers stacked the box to slow him down and still weren’t really able to. He ran with his usual combination of power and speed, bulldozing a Packer defender in the end zone Bosworth style. Warren has nothing left to prove.
3) Amari Cooper
On the one target Cooper had in this game, he adjusted to an underthrown deep ball from Derek Carr and avoided the tackle, rolling over the defender’s body to scamper for more yardage. Cooper looks in fine form, but it’s Carr who must improve his deep ball to make this connection even more special.
4) Paul Guenther
The last time I think I’ve seen a Raider defense look this good was when Charles Woodson was playing on it- the first time. Did you see any Raider defender make a serious mistake tonight? Miss an assignment or make a boneheaded play? I didn’t. All the mistakes came from the referees.
Paul Guenther has this team applying pressure and lockdown coverage with linebackers who fly to the ball and players who are where they are supposed to be when they are damn well supposed to be there. This is what good coaching looks like. Guenther is an absolute godsend.
1) Connor Cook
I would rather have a root canal than watch Cook play in a game ever again. I watched Colt McCoy earlier today look like a second-year political science student at Amherst trying to play quarterback against the Broncos and he outplayed Cook tonight. Connor Cook might have just played his way out of a job altogether. EJ Manuel wasn’t great, but he was a damn sight better than Cook.
2) Pharaoh Brown
More holding penalties than catches for Brown in this preseason isn’t going to endear him to this perfectionist coaching staff. Brown’s penalties are drive-killers, and the right end spot is loaded as it is. Brown is an easy cut at this point.
3) Doug Martin
Martin ran behind the first-team offensive line and did basically nothing. Chris Warren ran behind the backups and looked like Bo Jackson at Auburn. I know the coaches love Martin and he’s basically a lock for the roster, but can they ignore the fact that Chris Warren is not only better, but like eight years younger?
4) The Refs, again
You know the helmet rule is trash. I know the helmet rule is trash. Everyone knows the helmet rule is trash. That’s not in question here. What is a problem is phantom holding calls all the time and absurd roughness penalties. What would Bob Sanders do in today’s NFL? Dick “Night Train” Lane would be send to the nearest Soviet gulag if he played in this environment. The Packers and Raiders combined for 23 penalties and 210 penalty yards. The Packers had the worst of it, amassing 13 penalties for 110 yards, and that’s just the ones that were accepted. This situation is totally out of hand.
Do you know what happens when you try to tackle heads up and someone is coming right at you? Your ass gets bent backwards. Ask Denzel Ward how he feels today. This nonsense has got to stop or we won’t be watching football in short order.