The Raiders dropped to 0-2 for the 2012 pre-season after losing to the Arizona Cardinals 31-27.
Most observers thought that the 2012 Oakland offense would hit the ground running and it would be the defense that would take time to gel and excel with the new schemes brought in by head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
However through two pre-season games the defense for the Raiders has looked very good and the offense has yet to score a touchdown.
The offense had two big opportunities to do so - the first on their second drive in the mid first quarter. QB Carson Palmer threw up a pass to rookie WR Rod Streater that he wasn't able to come down with but there was a call of pass interference on the play and the Raiders were given First & Goal at the 1 yard line. They were unable to convert in 3 attempts.
In the second, the Raiders 1st team offense again made it down to the goal line - about 3 yards out - and again was unable to advance in multiple downs. The team settled for fieldgoals by Sebastian Janikowski and he tacked another 46 yarder as well, all in the 1st half. Most of the starters played the entire first half which was the amount of time Allen had scheduled for them to play.
The Raiders dropped to 0-2 for the 2012 pre-season after losing to the Arizona Cardinals 31-27.
I took a look at the first quarter of the game, wanting to look at some of the first team and into the second team to get some thoughts.
-On the kickoff, Dan Bailey's placement was poor. I question whether Ford should've fielded it because the ball came down right near the sideline and short of the goal line area. If he hadn't fielded it and it had taken a favorable bounce out of bounds the team would've started at the 40 after a penalty.
But, on the flip side, Ford was moving forward at a good pace, fielded it cleanly and had the return team given him a crease he could've had a great return as he was already at about the 10 or 15. The return team gave him absolutely nothing and he was swarmed over by Cowboys almost immediately. The special teams bears some watching in future games.
-Darren McFadden had 38 yards on 3 touches which obviously bodes well. His first, a 4 yard run round the right end was a good run but nothing amazing. The next play was an 18 yard reception that looked good.What struck me was that McFadden could have actually gotten more yards had he followed his blocking a bit more.
The play started with McFadden in a shotgun formation to the left of Palmer but prior to the snap he moved to the right outside wide receiver position with Jacoby Ford in the R slot position to his left. The linebacker that was assigned McFadden moved out with him indicating man covg.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen updated the status of some of the team's injured players after practice yesterday in advance of Fridays's game with the Arizona Cardinals.
First, injured RB Mike Goodson, who was out with a neck injury following a very scary collision during a practice with pads last week returned to practice and is set to get his first playing time in Silver & Black tomorrow.
Goodson has been a positive force throughout the offseason and his enthusiasm for playing bubbled to the surface when asked about the game as he gushed, "I can't wait. I can't wait. I cannot wait." Goodson appeared to be at full strength in practice and with both a CT and MRI coming back negative on injury to his neck he should be in line for a number of carries.
Inconsistency was the word of the game for the Raiders who were shut out at home in their 2012 preseason opener versus the Dallas Cowboys.
The starting offense only played a few series and moved the ball well but some miscues between QB Carson Palmer and WR Jacoby Ford kept them from capitalizing on Darren McFadden's hard running.
In the first drive, the Raiders moved down the field 38 yards after starting on their own 14 yard line, mostly on the strength of McFadden who had runs of 4 and 16 yards and added a reception for another 18 yards. The fourth play of that drive was a deep pass down the left side where Palmer was trying to hit Ford for a long reception or possible TD but he threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage and Dallas S Gerald Sensabaugh, coming over from center field, was able to pick off the pass.
McFadden came out after that series and the Raiders struggled to move the ball with Lonyae Miller rushing. Aside from McFadden virtually no player showed consistent play making ability on the offensive side of the ball as the Raiders dealt with drops, poor protection from the offensive line and an inability to run the ball on the Dallas D.
The exception was rookie UDFA standout Rod Streater who continued his solid offseason with six receptions for 66 yards. At times he seemed to be the only player on the team that could get open and catch the ball.
The Raiders are limping into their first preseason game - literally for some players. After being fairly low-injury for the first week of camp, the second week brought a multitude of lower limb injuries on players of most every position.
The Raiders are especially thin at linebacker where UDFA Mario Kurn suffered a knee injury that will put him on the I.R. list and he will not be able to recover for this season.
With Kurn's likely IR listing, the team is left with only 9 linebackers on the current squad. Of the 9 players still on the active squad, four - Kaelin Burnett, Miles Burris, Chad Kilgore and Nathan Stupar - are rookies.
Also on the squad is Carl Ihenacho who is a second year player after being on the Raiders practice squad last year. He has not played in a regular season game. Therefore, more than half of the teams current linebacker corps has not played in a regular season NFL game.
The Raiders training camp is now over a week old and TFDS will reflect on some of what we can learn from this team's practices to date.
*The team has some serious speed at running back – if it can see the field.
We all know about Darren McFadden's effortless glide and how he's able to turn on a fifth gear at times to push for the extra yards. Everyone is also aware that he's struggled to stay healthy each season and has yet to play in all 16 games. McFadden looks great in camp and, if healthy is poised for a great season, it appears.
His backups are not as healthy right now. 2nd year back Taiwan Jones has struggled with a hamstring injury throughout camp and has not seen much of the field. When healthy, he looks like he is the fastest player on a very fast team but he needs to get healthy to get playing time.
His main competition for backup running back is Mike Goodson who was acquired via trade from Carolina in the off-season. Goodson was having a great camp until Tuesday when he was hit hard by LB Philip Wheeler and ended up being carried off on a backboard to the Emergency Room. Thankfully MRIs came up negative and Goodson rejoined the team that same evening but it's unknown how long he'll be out.
*The defensive backs appear to be improved.
Tyvon Branch is perhaps the best player on the defensive side of the ball and looks like he may be in for a true breakout season. Mike Mitchell (of whom I've been openly critical) has turned in a solid camp, coming up with some key coverage plays including an interception.
Many media and fans thought that 2nd year cornerback Chimdi Chekwa would compete for a starting spot alongside Ron Bartell. Bartell looks to be the real deal – a big, physical player with good coverage skills – but instead of Chekwa being the favorite to start next to him, fellow second year player DeMarcus Van Dyke has really stepped forward and been the talk of the camp this year.
Van Dyke is in a tight competition with veteran pro Shawtae Spencer who has had a very up-and-down camp. Van Dyke has bulked up a bit in the off season and has worked on his recognition skills while in coverage. Many times last season he was in or near position to make a play but did not recognize that the ball was in route to make a play on it. This camp he's been much better about reading the reactions of the receiver and getting his hands up to deflect passes. While he's not in shut-down territory, his ascension has been quite a pleasant surprise.
*The rookies appear to have some talent.
The most talked about rookies have been receivers – 5th round WR Juron Criner and undrafted free agent Rod Streater – both of whom are large, big bodied receivers and both of who possess good hands.
Streater and Criner have both looked good in camp. They both do have some inconsistent practices but both appear to be locks to make the final roster even if the Raiders only take 5 wide receivers.
Other rookies have flashed in camp, though, as well. DE Jack Crawford has had some disruptive session in which he has been able to surge through the line for a sack (at least if the defense were sacking the quarterbacks which they are not). Christo Bilukidi has had some time at DT. He is also competing to play the Nose Tackle position in both the 4-3 as a backup and in the 3-4 as a backup or the starter.
OL Tony Bergstrom has mostly played as a 2nd team LG but he's seen some time at RG as well in an effort to make him as versatile as possible. He's unlikely to be the starting LG at this point, barring an injury to Cooper Carlisle, but he's shown flashes as a backup at both guard positions.
LB Miles Burris has been starting at Will position because incumbent Aaron Curry is on the PUP list with a knee injury. Burris has shown some good plays and is a solid player but has not been spectacular. He, like most rookies, struggles with inconsistency and has very up-and-down practices as well.
Fellow rookie Nathan Stupar has not been as noticeable as his fellow rookies but looks to be likely a practice squad addition at worst. Because of the lack of depth in the linebacking corps he may still make the squad as a backup but he has some room to grow and learn to be an impact player.
*Penalties appear to still be a concern.
The Raiders have had 6 padded practices at this time and in each practice where there are pads, there have been a plethora of defensive off-sides calls. Perennial offender Tommy Kelly has had his fair share of penalties and continues to try to anticipate the snap of the ball. He is aware of the problem and has admitted it has been difficult to change his habits. Head coach Dennis Allen is also aware of Kelly's struggles and said they would be trying to "incentivize" Kelly to help him give up his propensity to jump prior to the snap. As the team is not able to fine a player for penalties, per the CBA, it's likely that the incentives will be playing time but Allen did not explain what he meant.
Kelly is not the only defender, however. Many of the tackles, ends and even linebackers have been susceptible to jumping prior to the snap and this will need to be a focus of the coaching staff over the next few weeks or the team will struggle with penalties again this year.
*The staring lineup appears to be mostly set.
The coaching staff has been fairly reluctant to mix up the starting lineup much and there has been no real change to the starting 22 players since the very first time the media was allowed into OTAs back in May, after the draft and free agency.
Allen has said that they will not shift positions based on a good practice or two but if the team is going to shift the lineup it may happen soon as they will want to have their starting lineup in place before too many preseason games go by.
The Raiders did release their first depth chart. There is a link to it here.
*The Raiders may be a bit undersized on the defensive line.
The Raiders were hoping that NT Travis Ivey would be their large player to clog up lanes in the middle but he showed up to camp unable to pass the team's conditioning test and was released. With Ivey's release the team is without a true Nose Tackle to play over the center. This is especially worrisome because the team would like to mix in 3-4 but do not have ideal personnel for that alignment.
Tommy Kelly will be handling starting Nose Tackle duties this season but he is a better fit as a 3 technique DT. Rookie Christo Bilukidi is also more of a 3 technique DT after playing DT and some DE in college. Richard Seymour is another player who can play both DT or DE and he will be the team's starting 3-technique DT.
Because the Raiders lack that force to clog up the middle they will have to play very disciplined defense, something they have struggled with in the past. There is no guarantee that the Raiders will be able to stop the run any better this year because their lack of bulk may be a detriment in the run game.
Overall, the Raiders have some good things going for them as well as some questions. It will be enlightening to see the team play in the preseason to see how they match up against an opponent when they are playing to win.
The Raiders play their first pre-season game against Dallas next Monday Aug 13th at the O.co Coliseum at 5:00pm PT.
I tweet a lot during training camp practices with more insight or thoughts about the Raiders team. Follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
There's a question football fans have asked themselves this off season, and it alludes to the record column in Denver: Can John Elway and Peyton Manning REALLY get it up?
They won nine games with Tim Tebow. But Tebow and his crucifix were run out of town for the very well-known and well-liked Manning brother. Yes, we're talking about Archie's favorite son.
Out goes Tebow and In enters a 38-year-old Peyton Manning - an old, battered and bruised white boy from Tennessee who knows how to strike a chord.
I mean, he still looks like he can tune that old guitar, but it's going to be another story when he goes to play it. And Peyton hasn't played his guitar soundly since 2009. Well..2010 was a good year and all statistically, but if you watched Peyton that year you'd know he showed signs of wear. He missed the whole year afterward, and he's getting a little long in the root if you know what I mean. A lot of people aren't sure with this neck injury and old age he'll be playing with if he can even hold up for an entire season.