Can you imagine what this defense will look like when/if Khalil Mack returns? The Raiders had 5 sacks in their 13-6 win over Green Bay last night, and they were dominating the line of scrimmage all night. The Packers did not play any of their starting offensive line is of note, but even with that caveat it was still an awesome night for getting after the quarterback.
The two players that stood out the most were once again Shilique Calhoun and Fadol Brown, with Brown looking especially powerful and hard to contain. Seriously, that man is huge. Brown seemed to shove whoever was blocking him back with ease, and we are talking about 300lb NFL offensive linemen. Calhoun also looked the part with his consistency in getting into the backfield.
Another defensive player who made a big impact even though he didn’t get any stats attributed to him was Arden Key. This was his first truly extended action in the preseason and he looked every bit as beastly as the reports throughout camp described him to be. He commanded attention whenever he was in the game, you could tell the Packers specifically did not want Key to wreak havoc in the backfield. He didn’t manage to get any sacks on his own, but his impact was still felt and it’s exciting to think of what he is going to be able to do opposite Khalil Mack this season.
The Packers offense, even with just back ups playing, is not one to easily dominate. Keeping them to only scoring 6 points is a huge achievement and there is a lot of credit to go around. The secondary kept the Packers young receivers in check all night minus a couple of big plays from J’Mon Moore and Geronimo Allison, Green Bay didn’t even get over 200 yards passing. That’s incredibly impressive when considering the Packers scored 31 points in the first preseason game against the Titans and a whopping 51 points last week against the Steelers.
Sadly, the Raiders own back ups didn’t fair much better against the Packers talented young cornerbacks. You know it’s bad when the coach won’t even say whether he feels the back up QB for the team is even on the roster right now. Honestly, I hope not because if Carr were to be lost for an extended period of time it’d be awful to watch these versions of Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel try to lead the Raiders.
Cook looked especially bad going just 6 of 15 for 72 yards with an interception, and he would have had a 2nd interception that would have been returned for a touchdown if not for a defensive holding on the other side of the field. After he looked so promising the first preseason game it is very disappointing to see Cook revert to a gunshy QB who looked rattled much of the game while missing open receivers regularly.
As for Manuel, he looked better than Cook but his fumbling issues this preseason are completely dooming him from being relied on. You can not have a QB that likes to run when under pressure that can not hold on to the damn ball. It’s not a good combination, and once again ball security reared it’s ugly head when Manuel decided to scramble in this one. He actually finished 8 of 12 passing for 87 yards which are not bad numbers, but he failed the eye test when he fumbled again which he has done in each preseason game.
Chris Warren III had another nice game, though he came back to earth a little with his 3.6ypc average. He still ran hard on his 15 carries for 54 yards and his game winning touchdown run highlight his power again when he ran over a would be tackler for the score. The Raiders would be foolish to let him go even if his blocking still leaves a lot to be desired, and the fan base would be furious if they did cut him during roster cuts because there is no way he’d make it to the practice squad.
We also had a Doug Martin sighting finally with the veteran running back running for 24 yards on his 6 carries of the night. There has been a lot of complaining about Martin’s lack of playing time but he showed why the coaches feel like his spot is secure even without seeing him in game action. He looked good in his limited opportunities and should have Raider Nation excited for the possibility of getting the Doug Martin who has had over 1,600 yard seasons twice in his career.
The last player who deserves a shoutout is rookie punter Johnny Townsend. He had been a little off his first two preseason games but he showed he was an NFL punter last night against the Packers. He ended up average 37 yards a punt but that was mostly from the field position from where he was punting from that caused the lower average. He had a 54 yard booming punt and one of his 5 punts landed inside the 20, another punt bounced sideways near the goal line but ended up bouncing in the end zone for a touchback. It was a solid day for the rookie punter.
All in all this was a great defensive game for the Raiders, even though it showed they really need to look into other options at back up QB. For those of you shouting about Teddy Bridgewater, just stop. Yes, he would be amazing to get but the Jets need a solid back up too and won’t be giving up Bridgewater for anything relatively affordable. We will have to see who else comes available, because the only teams that will give up enough to get Bridgewater are ones that will be considering using him as a possible starter.
We have just one last preseason game to go before the regular season starts people, in just two weeks time the games are going to start counting for real. The Raiders last preseason game is against the Seattle Seahawks who have the Raiders former defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr on their sidelines so it should be a great test to finish the preseason. Once that game is over it will be time for the roster cuts, oh to be a fly on that wall.