Even though it was a meaningless game, it’s great to see the Raiders win and look so strong against a team that was in the Super Bowl last season. There’s plenty to be happy about on the Oakland side, while the Rams clearly don’t give a crap and are just looking forward to their game in Hawaii against the Cowboys next week. But who stood out, and who stepped back?
1) The entire Raiders defense
I read a Tweet after the Raiders and Rams’ first scrimmage day from a certain beat writer who shall remain nameless, that he would make a sizable bet that Oakland’s defense would be the worst in the league this season. Who knows how true that may end up being, but these Raiders just held a Sean McVay offense to three points in an entire game.
The defensive line was solid with a strong pass rush, and although they only recorded one sack they clearly got the better of the offensive line of the Rams at all times. Clelin Ferrell looked tenacious, Maurice Hurst got pressure up the middle and Arden Key, who logged Oakland’s only sack, looked like a new man with tremendous speed, strength and athleticism.
That’s to say nothing of the secondary, who held Los Angeles to 77 yards passing in the first half and 133 yards in the entire game. Trayvon Mullen showed tons of promise and Johnathan Abram was flying around the field in his very limited action. This defense is going to be a work in progress, but the young studs are... well, studs.
2) Nathan Peterman
Peterman is a living meme for a reason. He might be the player whose performance drops off the most from preseason to the regular season, but my goodness is he good when it doesn’t count. He made some quality throws, but his true value came with his legs, as he scampered for a 50-yard run to open the third quarter, leading to a crisp touchdown pass to Keelan Doss. This is exactly the sort of thing Peterman does that makes coaches love him and keep him around. We call Peterman the GOAT as a rib, but tonight, he was damn good.
3) Raiders receivers
Oakland passed for 266 yards in this game, and it could have been a lot more if Mike Glennon hadn’t forgot which team he was throwing to. The Raider receivers showed off their route running and great hands, making a few spectacular catches. JJ Nelson, Keon Hatcher, Marcell Ateman and Ryan Grant all had impressive grabs, Alex Ingold also stood out in the passing game, something Keith Smith has yet to do. That may give him an edge when trying to win the fullback job.
4) AJ Cole
Cole may have gained a “leg up” in the punting competition with his performance in this game. He boomed four punts with a 43-yard average, two of them being downed inside the 20. He also kicked off, and just seems way more consistent than Johnny Townsend. Townsend blasted a 55-yard punt but left a few others short.
1) Mike Glennon
If you take out the two picks Mike Glennon threw, he had a great day. He would have been 17/23 for 200 yards. But he did throw those picks, and that sort of decision-making is why he’s a backup in the NFL. It’s why the Bucs gave up on him, it’s why the Bears signed him and immediately drafted Mitch Trubisky. It’s why the Cardinals signed him and immediately drafted Josh Rosen. Stuff like this separates guys who can be The Guy from guys who hold clipboards for a living. Glennon’s biggest value to Oakland is that he isn’t Connor Cook.
2) Rams offense
If there’s a bigger dropoff from a first unit to their backups than the Rams starting offense to this crew, I’d like to see it. The Rams were garbage, missing simple throws and unable to get the Raiders D-line off any blocks at all. It was only the mobility of Blake Bortles and Brandon Allen that kept Oakland from racking up five sacks at least. And the penalties, my God, the penalties. There were so many, and most of them on the Rams. Sean McVay should burn the game tape from tonight.
3) Demornay Pierson-El
The Raiders brought Pierson-El in due to his return ability, and he had some serious issues there. He bobbled the first punt he fielded, but he did at least fall on it. In the second half he busted a couple good returns, but both were called back on penalties. That’s not on him, but he didn’t do himself any favors in this game and is a serious candidate to be cut.
4) Brandon Parker
Overall, the offensive line played great. They protected the quarterback, opened running lanes for the Raider backs, and played as a cohesive unit. But Parker was clearly the weak link, getting worked by defensive ends and committing a costly penalty. He just doesn’t seem to have what it takes, and if he can’t handle the Rams’ backup edge rushers he can’t handle anyone’s starters.