The Oakland Raiders dropped to 0-2 this preseason after losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 24-21 in Oakland. This game featured many star players making their 2017 season debuts, including Marshawn Lynch’s highly anticipated Raiders debut and Derek Carr’s first game back since his season ending injury last Christmas. Lets dive in and look at five takeaways from the game against the Rams last Saturday.
Lynch has come back to Oakland! After the controversy of week 1, the former Cal standout started the game for the Raiders and carried the ball twice for 10 yards. During his only series of the night, Lynch’s fierce north and south running style was on display from the get go. In addition, the energy was electric when Lynch was on the field for Oakland. Expect more of that during home games this season.
One of the few bright spots for the Raiders this past weekend came from the offense, led by Carr and company. The unit played smooth, aggressive and very cohesive with one another. Carr found his top two targets early and often in this game. Amari Cooper went out and made a phenomenal catch in triple coverage and Michael Crabtree broke Troy Hill’s ankles for Carr’s second touchdown of the game . The offensive line looked great, but Rams star Aaron Donald was absent from this game due to his contract holdout. The “blocking” tight end, Lee Smith, actually caught two passes. His first reception was a beauty for the Raiders first touchdown of the game. This unit is ready to go for week 1 of the regular season.
On the other hand, the defensive unit struggled once again. Jared Goff looked like a pro bowl type quarterback on Saturday, completing 75% of his passes on the night. The defensive line failed to hold their gaps and assignments most of the night, allowing Todd Gurley to run freely. The bigger issue, like it’s been for the last year or so, was the lack of communication and execution on the backside of the defense. Aided by the Rams ability to run effectively on first down, the DB’s gave up long pass plays throughout the first half. None more apparent, than the easy touchdown reception from rookie Cooper Kupp early in the game. Like a broken record this offseason, major improvements are needed from Ken Norton Jr’s defense before the start of the season.
The only bright spot on defense was from the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. The two time All-Pro OLB sacked Goff (out of a double team) on the Rams second offensive possession of the game, to set up a 3 and out for the defense. Mack had two tackles for loss and multiple quarterback pressures against the Rams. Mack may have to channel his inner beast mode all season to salvage this defense once again. Norton needs to correct a lot of issues on defense, thankfully for him, Mack’s not one of them.
Marquel Lee struggled at middle linebacker. He whiffed on a potential tackle for loss on Gurley in the first quarter. Then, and probably the worst, a missed tackle on Gerald Everett on the outside for a first down. Head Coach Jack Del Rio and Norton need to find a solution at MLB. Asking Lee to play right out of the gate could be asking too much from the rookie out of Wake Forest.
Next week will be the dress rehearsal for the 2017 season against the Dallas Cowboys, as most teams elect to bench their starters week four of the preseason. Given that both teams play again this season on Sunday Night Football week 15, both coaching staffs may chose to have their game plans and play scripts very simple and vanilla.
How concerned are you about the Raiders defense? On the other side, can you see the offense averaging 30 points a game this season? Let me know in the comments below.
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