The Las Vegas Raiders opened the preseason under new coach Josh McDaniels, in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night in a game that was delayed by lightning and heavy rains.
Let’s take a look at the key aspects of the game:
Record: The Raiders are 1-0. The Jaguars are 0-1.
What it means: With many family and friends in the stands, McDaniels used a decent amount of starters in the game, including, surprisingly running back Josh Jacobs, and most offensive lineman. McDaniels put on a show for the home folks. The Raiders schemed it up somewhat on both offense and defense, which doesn’t happen much in the preseason.
Projected #Raiders starters who are sitting tonight:— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) August 5, 2022
- QB Derek Carr
- LT Kolton Miller
- WR Davante Adams
- TE Darren Waller
- WR Hunter Renfrow
- DE Chandler Jones
- DE Maxx Crosby
- LB Denzel Perryman
- CB Rock Ya-Sin
- CB Anthony Averett
Meanwhile, Jacksonville kept it basic with a long list of who did not play. Basically, Jacksonville first-year coach Doug Pederson kept essentially every key player on the sidelines for this extra preseason tilt.
If the first play of the game was any indication, it may be a good season for Las Vegas. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham (Derek Carr wisely didn’t play) had a deflected pass drop into the hands of wide receiver Keelan Cole for a big gain and the Jaguars were called for roughing the passer. The drive though ended with a Raiders’ field goal.
The Las Vegas offensive line was interesting. This was it: Brandon Parker (left tackle), John Simpson (left guard), Andre James (center), Lester Cotton (right guard) and Alex Leatherwood (right tackle). Perhaps this will be the starting lineup for the unit in Week 1 at the Los Angeles Chargers sans, of course, at left tackle where starter Kolton Miller had the night off. Parker entered the game as the leader at right tackle, but Leatherwood could still his beat him.
The offensive line continue to be the biggest storyline of the training camp and preseason moving forward The unit had a so-so game on a rainy night. It was strong in run blocking and not so-great on pass protection. Stidham was sacked on back-to-back plays, including one by former Raider Arden Key. Both sacks were on Parker, which isn’t great.
Leatherwood also struggled some, but Cotton had a nice game, helping his cause for a starting job. Third-round pick Dylan Parham played both guard and center as he has been in training camp.
Las Vegas scored on their first three possessions and had no penalties, which is huge for a first preseason game.
The Raiders ran the ball very well and the team looks comfortable in McDaniels’ system on the ground. Jacobs, rookie Zamir White, veteran signing Ameer Abdullah and longshot Austin Walter all ran wild. This is going to be a group effort his year and it showed Thursday night. The fact that Jacobs played two series while most of the Raiders’ starting skill players had the night off shows he is part of a committee this season.
Defensively, the Raiders, who played some starters, looked solid and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham used some multiple defenses. Yes, it’s unusual for an early preseason game, but Graham wants to see what he has,
Darius Phillips, a free-agent signing who played a lot of cornerback early in the game, was the first punt returner, thus, it seems like he will get the first crack at it during the regular season.
Second-year pass-rusher Malcolm Koonce, who is trying to be the third edge rusher, had a nice night. He showed a great pass-rush burst and was active overall.
Wide receiver Tyron Johnson, who has flashed in training camp, also had a solid night. He has a real chance to make it, but he did have a bad drop near the end zone. It was a nice toss by Stidham, who looked good and did nothing to make us think he won’t beat Nick Mullens to be Carr’s backup. He even showed his running ability on a touchdown run as the Raiders took a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Kicker Daniel Carlson was in regular-season form as he nailed a 55-yard field goal for his second 3-pointer of the first quarter.
Undrafted rookie quarterback Chase Garbers looked good in the fourth quarter. He’s likely practice-squad material, I’d think.
Turning point: The Raiders were the better team from the start. Yes, they appeared to scheme some and played some better players, but McDaniels had a purpose and it worked. Overall, it was a good first outing for the Silver & Black.
Injury report: Veteran running back Kenyan Drake suffered an apparent arm injury in the second quarter. Cole took a blow to the head in the second quarter, but he did walk off the field on his own. Defensive back Bryce Cosby, a longshot to make the roster, was banged up late in the second quarter. He returned in the second half.
What’s next: The Raiders play their second of four preseason games and open their home slate August 14 when they host the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is 1:25 p.m. PT.