Early Taste ov Victory
by, 08-10-2013 at 08:27 PM (2100 Views)
My beloved Oakland Raiders took the field tonight in O.co Coliseum against a much more experienced Dallas Cowboys team Friday night.. Not only do they have more experience, they also had the benefit of already having one pre-season game under their belts, so they had no first game jitters going on with their younger players. I was fully expecting Dallas to win. When the clock went to 0:00, the score was 19-17 , the Raiders taking the victory in front of a crowd of roughly 43 thousand fans, not all of them wearing black.
But even with the victory, that doesnít mean, I am ready to declare this team Super Bowl bound, even while wearing my silver-n-black colored glasses.
Staring with the bad- the 4th play from scrimmage on our opening drive, Matt Flynn was hit on his blind side by 4th year linebacker, Sean Lee, and ended up giving the ball over to the Dallas. On OUR 16 yard line. To switch this to the good , Tony Romo, the 11 year vet with only 1 play off win that this past off season re-signed for a whopping $108,000,000.00 , couldnít get the ball in the end zone. They had to settle for a field goal. After a holding call and incomplete pass, rookie linebacker Sio Moore introduced himself up close and personal to that hundred million dollar arm. Tony Romo may not have been too impressed, but Sio has a point to prove. He has stoutly stated that he is the best linebacker to come out of the 2013 draft, That was a nice place to start.
The bad -current 2nd string QB Terrelle Pryor made an ill advised throw and was intercepted in the end zone by rookie 3rd round pick J.J. Wilcox. This is how the drive ended. It was a poorly thrown ball, and it was very poor decision. This miscue was one of the keys in Pryor ending up with the lowest Raiders QB rating of the game. The good - rather than hamstring Pryor into a WCO, the Raiders did a lot of read -option with Pryor. There were acouple of busted plays, but the drive that ended in that interception started at the Oakland 10 yard line, covered 84 yards, and was a mix of plays, and overcame an early holding call.
The bad - Usama Young was the closest guy to the receiver on a 15 yard Romo to Dez Bryant reception, was unable to tackle Lance Dunbar on another pass reception, and otherwise looked unimpressive on pass plays. The good- that is until he intercepted a pass and returned it for 21 yards. Granted this was a pass thrown by 3rd string QB Nick Stephens, a guy that hails fro Tarleton State and was undrafted in the 2012 draft. I was unable to find any professional statistics for him. But an interception is still a good thing, and Young was seeing some serious playing time.
Thatís just a few of the things that stood out to me in the game.
There is so much about this team potential wise that has yet to be tapped.
I keep going back to the experience of the Cowboys. Letís just look at Romo. In the 2012 season he was 6th in Tds, 5th in completion percentage , and 3rd in total yards. Yet our defense stopped him from scoring while in the red zone. Romo couldnít recover from the holding call, and without Pat Sims and Lamarr Houston to give us a pass rush.
While I have a lot of faith in our starting safeties, I am still not quite sold on Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. However, I am liking what I am seeing in our younger guys, and in the game Chase Casey was showing something. We still have to see what our first round pick, DJ Hayden can do. Chimdi Chekwa is improving as he plays. Casey, I know, was not playing against first stringers, but he was flying all over the field.
Offensively, I was pleased, over all. Darren McFadden needs more than a handful of carries to get going, so I canít judge how he is looking in comparison to last season. Rashad Jennings showed why he is 2nd in the depth chart, though I liked what I was seeing from the young Jeremy Stewart.
Marcel Reece being involved early was definitely a step away from the offense we saw last year. A single passing reception for 8 yards isnít much, but it beats seeing him unused.
Now every team needs one big play guy. I know many are looking at Jacoby Ford to be the wide receiver to be that. And no doubt, Ford is fast. He can stretch the field. But who can really go up and fight for the ball? A 5'9" 190 lb man, or someone that 6'3"and 213 lbs? Which one would you want to be going up against oh, Charles Tillman? Brandon Flowers? Champ Bailey? Give me the young, hungry big guy, that was in awe just to be taking the field. The one with something to prove, not the one that has been fighting injuries. Just saying something to consider. Again, I know we havenít seen Brice Butler against the top tier defensive backs, but I think this young man has something special about him.
Now as to special teams? Nothing to be pointing to with saying th best units in the league, but already they seem vastly improved from last season as far as blocking and tackling. Speaking of special teams, while not a huge fan of Phillip Adams ball handling capabilities in returns, I think the dirty hit he took and the he got up from it earns him some props. We couldnít see much of either of our potential punters because we didnít have to punt but twice.
Stat wise, I think in all aspects of the game we were pretty equivalent in all aspects of the game, whatever string was playing. Here is a quick run down:
16-17 our favor in first downs, and we didnít give a single one away via penalty. Both teams were at 50% conversion rate on third downs. 50% for us is an improvement over last season. We ran 62 offensive plays to their 53 plays, and we had 5 minutes plus in time of possession. We garnered 325 net yards, they had 291. Each team had one interception. Each team fumbled away once.
Both teams recovered fumbles in the red zone, and enither team was able to come away with a touchdown.
That brings me to a major concern, red zone scoring, That has been an Achilles heel of sorts for the Raiders the last couple of years. We need to change that.
Pre-season for the refs so the penalties were down. But I do see a more disciplined team. It starts from the before the National Anthem, too. I have been watching the Raiders for years. I have been in the stadium early and have watched warm ups. There were always veterans not doing quite all the stretches. Players that stood to the side or back, that seemed to be exempt from these warm ups. Some players just slacked off and one could easily see that there was no effort made to really have the exercises be effective. Side leg lifts went half as high as the majority of the players. There was NONE of that in the warm ups last night. It was something to see. Actions speak louder than words, and these guys are putting forth effort in every aspect of the game, the mental and the physical.
What is best is even with the interception, Pryor has to feel successful. All aspects of the team did something. We scored on offense. We stopped them while on defense. We blocked a field goal.
This group of men, most of them hungry to prove something got a tatse of victory, and I think they liked it. I think it can make them hungrier. Young guys and vets needing to prove to former teams that they were wrong to let them go are going to be dangerous. They have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The sense of self -entitlement because of a name or contract? GONE. We have football players. They may not be the best of the best, but they arenít looking to make a name for themselves, they are looking to be part of a team.
The game doesnít count for anything, but that victory is a confidence booster.
Time to prepare for the next game.
As ever -
Win lose or tie, RAIDERS til I DIE!