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Takeaways: Thoughts on the Raiders 31-21 loss to the Packers (plus first cuts)

Schaub’s arm limitations are painfully apparent:
In this game, more than any other game this preseason, Schaub’s physical limitations were clear to see. He can still make all of the throws on the field but he lacks the velocity to throw strikes, which means that either he must throw with great anticipation or the receiver must be very open.

There was one throw where Schaub tried to wing one into a crossing wide receiver and had the pass batted down as it got there because the corner was able to react to the throw before the ball arrived. If Schaub had the arm of, say, Derek Carr that ball would have been there before the DB could react.

Schaub is still able to hit balls at all areas of the field – he had some decent passes down the field including a dropped ball by a wide-open Marcel Reece, a caught TD by James Jones that was ruled incomplete upon review, and a jump ball down the left sideline that Jones couldn’t come down with. He also had some misfires deep due to his deeper balls floating – again, likely this was because he doesn’t have the arm needed to really put some spin on them.

While Schaub’s limitations seem obvious to me, this is not the case for everyone. “I haven’t seen that,” said head coach Dennis Allen when asked if Schaub’s perceived lack of arm strength was causing issues. He added, “So I guess the answer is no.”

Instead, Allen blamed all areas: He said poor routes and bad contesting of passes from the receivers, less than great blocking from the offensive line and poor passes from Schaub all played a part in the offenses woes.

I can’t argue with that – they all did, I agree.

And while I think that Schaub will still be the starter week 1 against the Jets, I have very strong doubts that he is able to make it the entire season as the starter. I think the pressure on Allen from Davis and the pressure to win will make Allen make a move if Schaub is unable to push the team – and I think he no longer has the physical ability to do this.

The team is fairly convinced that Derek Carr needs some time before being under center but from my vantage point, it certainly looks like Carr will be there sooner rather than later. Carr will see a lot of playing time versus Seattle this Thursday. Raiders fans will be watching to see if Carr can become the franchise quarterback of the future.


Defense gets on track:
A bright spot for the team was that the defensive line was finally able to get some pressure on the opposing quarterback. Defensive end LaMarr Woodley and first-round rookie Khalil Mack were especially productive for the Raiders, both ending with multiple QB pressures.

Woodley had a sack in the game as well as some close calls. Mack ended the night with 5 tackles (2 for a loss), and interception and another pass deflected. On one particular play, Green Bay was lined up at the Raiders goal line and the play was a handoff to RB/FB James Starks. Mack knifed through the offensive line and had a great hit on Starks in the backfield, dropping him for a 3 yard loss. These are the kinds of plays the Raiders need Mack to make if the team is to be at all competitive this year.

The secondary, while not looking great, didn’t have as many of the devastating breakdowns in coverage this week and with the Raiders’ pass rush becoming active, the secondary didn’t have to cover as long or as well.

Multiple times in the game, Green Bay’s passes were off target – many as a result of a Raiders player being in the face or coming up from the back of QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, completed only 9 of his 20 passes versus the Raiders 1st team defense or less than 50%.

It should be noted, however, that when he did complete a pass, it was usually to devastating effect and with only 9 completions, he still amassed 139 passing yards and 2 passing TDs.

Still, the defense looked much improved over last week’s performance versus the Lions and that is a positive sign for this year’s team.


Lots of questions in the running game:
The offensive line, also, looked better a week out from a very poor game versus Detroit. At least, the pass protection was better – there were less unblocked players coming right at Schaub, for example.

The run blocking looked very poor, however, with the Raiders’ running backs being hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on most every play. Compared to Green Bays’ running plays, in which the running back had a good head of steam past the line of scrimmage before first contact by a defender, Oakland’s running left a lot to be desired.

The sole saving grace was that Raiders’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew looked good – his 40 yard scamper for the teams’ first TD was more an individual effort than anything to do with blocking. Like the MJD of old, Jones-Drew took some hits on that play but refused to be knocked down and was able to clear the first level of defenders to break into the clear.

Jones-Drew looked like he may be missing the top end speed he possessed almost 10 years ago, but he still was able to outrun the Green Bay defenders, which bodes well.


First cut day:
Tomorrow, Tuesday August 26th, is this year’s first cut day, when all teams must get down to 75 players.


To that end, the Raiders announced, yesterday, that they had released 7 players thus far:

Kyle Auffray, TE

Emmett Cleary, OT

Justin Cole, LB

Mike Davis, WR

Torell Troup, DT

Jansen Watsen, CB

Rahsaan Vaughn, WR


The team was at 88 players prior to this week, so they must make 13 total moves by the end of the NFL’s business day, tomorrow at 1pm Pacific.

I expect the Raiders will make these two moves of players to IR, which would bring the Raiders moves up to nine:

Kory Sheets to IR

Nick Kasa to IR


Finally, here is my prediction for the final 4 releases in this round:

Karl Williams, FB

Spencer Hadley, LB

Larry Asante, DB

Dan Kistler, OT