There was a lot to like about what we saw from the Raiders against the Cardinals in their second preseason game. The first team offense marched down and scored on their opening drive and the first team defense didn’t allow a point and even got some points of their own.
Joyner was lights out in this game. He showed off his premium coverage skills as the Raiders’ nickel corner and then some. Over four drives with the first team defense, Joyner didn’t give up a catch. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looked for the receiver Joyner was covering three times in those drives, and each time Joyner was right there with sticky coverage to force and incompletion.
The coup de gras came on the final play for the first team defense. Joyner’s coverage set up a third and 11 at the Cardinals’ nine yard line. Then Joyner shifted just before the snap and came flying in on the blitz to sack Murray for a safety. Then, of course, Joyner went to the sideline and told Lisa Saulters that he wanted to run that ‘pretty boy football’ college offense out of the NFL. Got to love that kind of swagger. Raiders need it.
What we saw from Key in training camp as a rookie is finally showing up on the field. Coming off his sack in the preseason opener, Key was back making plays this week. Most importantly, he’s added some discipline to his game. His first play was cutting off the left side to send the running back inside the tackle where he was tackled by Johnathan Hankins for a loss. That set up third and 12 and ultimately a punt.
Key then ended the next two possessions. The first with pressure on third down for an incompletion and the one after that with a run stop on third and 23. Oh, and on that Joyner safety Key was also bearing down on Murray from the right side, so Murray not only had nowhere to go, but had Joyner not gotten to him, Key probably would have.
Josh Mauro didn’t play in this game with a minor injury, so Key started in his place. That showed that Key is the next man up at either end position and the go-to third down edge rusher on this team ahead of veteran Benson Mayowa and rookie Maxx Crosby. For good reason it would appear.
Everyone wanted to see what Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ Air Raid defense could do against the Raiders. It was an utter disaster. Mainly because Guenther knew how to snuff it out. He sent blitzes early and often and the Cardinals could get nothing going. Murray was under constant pressure. So much so the Cardinals’ first team offense put up a net 12 yards. You can see how Guenther dialed up the pressure in BD’s film review.
Derek Carr, Mike Glennon
Carr was in the game for six plays and marched the Raiders down for an opening drive touchdown. The biggest play on the drive was a 27-yard hookup with Tyrell Williams that looked a lot like a connection they made in practice last week where Williams went up high over the top of the corner to pull it down along the left sideline. The final play of the drive featured a wide open Ryan Grant in the right flat for a 19-yard touchdown.
Glennon took over and the offense didn’t skip a beat. The Raiders offense would score on each of their first first four possessions to take a 24-0 lead early the second quarter. Among the big throws that Glennon made was a 53-yard touchdown bomb to Rico Gafford and a gorgeous fade throw to the left corner of the end zone for Derek Carrier.
Both quarterbacks finished with perfect 158.3 passer ratings.
It’s pretty clear he and Guenther are hand-in-glove with this defense. Not only was Burfict aligning the defense perfectly to stay a step ahead of the Cardinals, but Burfict was making plays on his own as well.
Burfict made the tackle to end the first drive, stopping a catch at 7 yards on third and 12. A couple drives later, he started things off with a tackle for a loss of three yards. Two plays later, with the Cardinals in third and 13, Burfict went on the blitz up the middle along with Tahir Whitehead. Burfict laid the pick on the stunt, allowing Whitehead space to shoot the gap and crash the pocket. That’s how it’s done.
Cole didn’t even punt for the first time until late in the first half. In total he had five punts and averaged 49.4 yards per punt and upped his net punt average from last week (43.0) to 43.4. He also played three of his five punts inside the 20. That’s quite impressive. Raiders may have another punting gem on their hands.
His five catches on five targets led the team. His first one was his longest, going on a cross from right to left. Had Glennon led him, it would have been a longer gain, but the pass was slight behind him. Doss still made the correction, reaching back to get it, keeping it from the defender and picking up 20 yards. He also had a 10-yard catch on the Raiders’ final scoring drive and later added a 5-yard catch on third and one to finish with 38 yards on five catches.
Nixon had a pretty solid preseason opener as well, making him someone to watch for in this one. The undrafted rookie’s first play came against standout rookie receiver Keesean Johnson. Keisean vs Keesean. With the Cardinals knocking on the door in third and four, Nixon stepped up to bat down the pass for Johnson at the goal line to force them to settle for a short field goal heading into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Nixon showed up on special teams, downing a 54-yard Cole punt at the 16. Then he stayed on the field on defense and kept the Cardinals from scoring with tight coverage on an incompletion on third and five.
Josh Jacobs -- The rookie first round pick saw his first preseason action to start this one. He got the ball on the first three plays and picked up chunk yardage each time. He went for six yards, then eight yards and then another six yards. The Raiders saw enough. He looks good.
Rico Gafford – In one play, we saw why Gafford has hung around the Raiders the past couple seasons – pure speed. He flew past his man to get open deep for a 53-yard touchdown from Mike Glennon. Whoosh.
Jordan Devey – Through most of the offseason, Devey was the backup center. But with Gabe Jackson out, he is now the starter at right guard. He gave reason for optimism, laying the key block on Jacobs’s second 6-yard run and looking like he fit right in with that first unit.