NFL 2017 Preseason: Week 2 Raiders Recap

NFL 2017 Preseason: Week 2 Raiders Recap

The Raiders looked listless in their preseason opener, a 20-10 loss at the Arizona Cardinals. However, their entire starting offense took the night off. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin did not play a single snap on defense. This week the starters would get some action at home against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams got the ball first and started at their own 15. On 3rd and 1 Todd Gurley initially appeared stopped, but with a second effort easily got the first down. Another Gurley carry saw a pile of players advance over 10 yards past the point of contact. Jared Goff’s first three passes each went for at least 10 yards. These were not backups. This was the starting Oakland defense getting sliced and diced. From the Oakland 23, a play action pass to Cooper Kupp went for one of the easiest touchdowns the NFL will ever see. The 85 yard drive that made it 7-0 Rams ended without any defender within a country mile of Kupp.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Raiders the ball at their own 40. Derek Carr and the rest of the offensive starters began their first series of the preseason. Marshawn Lynch is controversial in his behavior, but he does his job on the field. His first carry went for 6 yards. Carr’s first pass went to Jared Cook, a dump-off in the flat that went for 16 yards. A defensive personal foul had the Raiders at the Rams 19. Operating out of the shotgun for the entire drive, Carr threw a perfect seam pass that split two defenders. Lee Smith bobbled it but hauled it in for the tying 7-7 touchdown. Another defensive personal foul was assessed on the kickoff.

On the next Rams drive after a touchback, Goff got drilled for a sack by Khalil Mack. On 3rd and 15, a dump-off pass came up short of the first down. The Raiders took over at their own 30. While Carr came back in, Lynch was done for the night. A completion to Amari Cooper set up 3rd and inches. Fullback Olawale banged ahead for the first down, but an illegal shift nullified the play. On 3rd and 6, Carr fired over the middle and was intercepted by Tremaine Johnson. Last year Carr threw 28 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

The Rams took over at the Oakland 41. A pair of Goff completions had the Rams at the Oakland 19. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 11, Goff fired to Kupp for 1st and goal at the 2. Gurley banged in up the middle for a 14-7 Rams lead. 2 touchdowns on 3 drives continued the questions of what was wrong with Oakland on defense. Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has to find some answers quickly. Bad things normally happen when an offensive lineman fields the ensuing kickoff, but an 18 yard return that had everyone amused had the Raiders starting at their own 35.

Deandre Washington ran a couple times, gained a first down, and saw the first quarter ended. After a deep ball to start the second quarter was well defended, Carr got called for delay of game. On 3rd and 10, Carr went deep to Cooper into triple coverage. The ball was again perfectly thrown and Cooper came down with it for a 31 yard gain to the Oakland 23. A completion to Smith meant 1st and 10 to the 13. Carr fired to Michael Crabtreeat the 10, and Crabtree raced to the corner and got past the pylon for the touchdown and a 14-14 game. 2 touchdowns showed that the Raiders high octane offense was in full swing. The issue was their defense. The Rams began their next drive at their own 25 as Goff stayed in the game. He was already 8 of 10. Gurley was done for the night.

On 3rd and 5, Goff fired a 12 yard completion over the middle. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 45, Goff fired to newly acquired Sammy Watkins over the middle for a 5 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 35, Goff again went over the middle to Kuff for 7 yards and another first down. The Raiders secondary had no answers. Goff went deep to the end zone and should have had his third touchdown. Watkins had a step on Sean Smith, who was arrested earlier this week. However, the ball bounced off of Watkins’s shoulder pad incomplete. On 3rd and 10, a short pass followed by terrible tackling meant another first down at the Oakland 18 as Goff was now 15 of 18. On 3rd and 12 from the 20, the Rams burned their 2nd timeout. A lateral West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass went nowhere as Greg Zuerlein came in for the short field goal. From 33 yards out, Zuerline was good to make it 17-14 Rams with 2:49 left in the half.

Carr was done for the night after playing nearly the entire first half. EJ Manuel came in at quarterback, followed by Marquette King coming in for his first punt. With only one minute left in the half and the Rams pinned very deep, Goff did not finish the half. His night ended with him 16 of 20 for 160 yards. Backup Sean Mannion handed off a couple times. With backups now playing the entire second half, it became a true preseason game. The level of play as expected dropped off severely on both sides. Despite a scoreless third quarter, the Rams had 30 minutes of possession after three quarters to only 15 minutes for the Raiders. Consecutive false starts to start the fourth quarter had the Raiders facing 3rd and 24. They did not convert.

With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, third string quarterback Connor Cook came in for the Raiders. On 3rd and 10 from the Oakland 35, Cook completed a pass to midfield. On 3rd and 3 from the Rams 43, Cook threw another pass for a first down to the biblically named Pharaoh Brown. The 11 play, 65 yard, 6 minute drive saw Cook throw a perfect 17 yard fade to the end zone for a touchdown to Johnnie Holton. With 6 1/2 minutes to play, the Raiders led 21-17. Now it was up to the backup defense.

With 4 1/2 minutes left and the Rams facing 3rd and 7 at their own 44, Mannion rifled a completion for an 8 yard gain. with 2:45 to play and the Rams facing 2nd and 15, defensive holding gave the Rams new life at midfield. At the 2 minute warning the Rams were at the Oakland 39. On 4rd and 9 with 90 seconds to play, the Rams took their first timeout. One stop by the Raiders defense would preserve the win. Instead, Mannion fired a completion followed by missed tackles for a 20 yard gain. The receiver fumbled the ball but retained possession. Mannion then fired to the end zone to Josh Reynolds. The defender never even turned around to look for the ball as the Rams took the lead with 1:11 to play.

The Raiders took over at their own 22. With 27 seconds left on 4th and 10 from the Oakland 35, Cook got sacked. The Raiders fell to 0-2 in the preseason. Forget the score. What matters is how the players looked. The starting offense looked fine. Carr is ready. Mack is still a monster on defense. However, the secondary it still the weak link of this team. Whether the issue is players or scheme, it needs to be fixed if the Raiders want to have a snowball’s chance of being competitive. Jack Del Rio knows defense, but plenty of work needs to be done on that side of the ball. Next week, the Raiders are at the Dallas Cowboys in the key third preseason game. 24-21 Rams


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