NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 1 Raiders Recap

NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 1 Raiders Recap

The 100th season of the NFL and the 60th season of the Raiders are a reality, at least in preseason form. Cotton Davidson lit the Al Davis torch to start the team’s final season in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas in 2020. 

Sean McVay gave his starters the night off. Jared Goff held a clipboard as Blake Bortles got the starting nod. Jon Gruden had his 1st round rookies starting on defense. Both Clelin Ferrell and John Abraham were in the game. Both of them successfully defended a deep bomb incomplete. Yet on 3rd and 8 from their own 18, Bortles found the seam in Paul Guenther’s defense for a 12 yard gain and a first down. The Raiders had a pathetic 13 sacks last year. The second worst team had 30 sacks. After a run up the gut gained 8 yards, Bortles rolled out and ran for another first down. An offensive holding penalty killed the drive. Now it would be time to check out the Raiders on offense. 

The Rams meanwhile we’re a penalty machine early on. They committed a false start receiving the opening kickoff. They had an illegal motion penalty and an offensive holding penalty on their opening drive. They then picked up another special teams penalty when the punt returner got decked before the ball arrived. This allowed the Raiders to take over at their own 30 yard line. 

Gruden gave his offensive starters the night off. Derek Carr held the clipboard. The plan was for Mike Glennon to play the first half and Nathan Peterman the second half. On 3rd and 3, Glennon dumped it off to Deandre Washington for a 13 yard gain. Then Glennon went bombs away to JJ Nelson for a 38 yard gain to the Rams 12 yard line. The Raiders finished the drive when Washington took it up the middle for an 8 yard touchdown. The backup offensive line gave him a big hole as the Raiders took the 7-0 lead. Josh Jacobs did not play, and Washington is a strong candidate to back him up on the depth chart. Meanwhile, the Rams committed a personal foul on the ensuing kickoff, their 5th penalty of the first quarter. Toe plays later came an offensive holding penalty, number 6. The defense held again.

The Raiders fumbled the punt, retained possession, and picked up their first penalty on that play. The Raiders were backed up to their own 9 yard line. On 3rd and 3, Glennong fired a quick pass over the middle to Ryan Grant for a first down. Preseason allows coaches to take risks they would never take in the regular season. Jon Gruden gambled with the Raiders facing 4th and 1 at their own 35. Washington got the yard up the gut. After that the drive died around midfield, but overall Glennon was looking good. 

Meanwhile, Bortles was done for the night after playing most of the first quarter. Bortles had a couple solid completions, but it was penalties that killed their offense. The first quarter ended with the rams committing their 7th penalty, another offensive holding call. Momentum changed at the start of the second quarter when a pass over the middle by Glennon was intercepted around turned to Oakland’s 30. however, the 8th penalty on the Rams for an illegal block on the return moved the ball back to midfield. On 2nd and 3 the Rams picked up their 9th penalty for illegal formation. On 3rd and 8, a quarterback draw appeared destined for success until Ferrell ran down the quarterback after a 2 yard gain.

A 10th penalty for delay of game before the punt was mainly to give the punter more room. Glennong continued to look impressive in three straight relatively deep balls to three different receivers for 18, 28 and 20 yards. Glennon started 15 of 19 for 184 yards and one touchdown. Yet the drive was killed when Glennon was intercepted at the goal line. Lazy attempts at tackling allowed the interception to be returned to the Rams 40 yard line. Despite moving the ball well, the Raiders only led 7-0. A defensive pass interference call on a deep ball gave the Rams 1st and goal at the Oakland 19 yard line. On 3rd and 4, Arden Key came around the edge and got the sack at the 2 minute warning. Greg Zuerlein hit the 36 yard field goal to get on the board. 

An 18 yard completion from Glennon to Kiyon Hatcher had the Raiders on the move during the 2 minute drill. A penalty in the offense for illegal use of hands to the face had the Raiders facing 2nd and 20 with 48 seconds left in the half just shy of midfield. On 3rd and 20, a safe dump off ended the drive. Despite moving up and down the field, Glennon could not get the Raiders back on the scoreboard after their only touchdown. A solid punt pinned the Rams at their own 10 yard line with 26 seconds left. 

Judging the Raiders offense is impossible without Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, and if he ever takes the field, Antonio Brown. It is also possible judging them against a Rams defense where Aaron Donald had the night off. Putting aside all the caveats about preseason football, the Raiders took a 7-3 lead to the locker rooms.

Nathan Peterman started the second half. Gruden loves Peterman, who a couple years ago threw 5 interceptions in one half of football. A conservative run, a short pass, and a 3rd and 1 run up the middle that got the tough yard gave peterman his first NFL first down pickup in Silver and Black. On 3rd and 5, peterman avoided the pressure and scrambled for a 51 yard gain down to the 8 yard line. Gruden went smash mouth, and a run got the ball to the 3. With everyone expecting another run, Peterman fired to Keelan Doss for the touchdown and the 14-3 Raiders lead. 

While Glennon was allowed to open it up, Gruden had the shackles on Peterman. It was pure West Coast Offense dink and dunk game management. On 3rd and 8 Peterman ran again, but was caught a couple yards short of the sticks. After three quarters, the Raiders had over 365 total yards of offense to only 113 yards for the Rams. In the fourth quarter, all Gruden wanted to do was pound the rock and eat up the clock. However, penalties made that tough. While the Rams had 10 penalties for 80 yards at that point, the Raiders had caught up and passed them with 11 penalties for 127 yards. This was with a good chunk of the fourth quarter still to play. On 3rd and 17 from his own 30, Gruden had peterman go with the safe dumpoff followed by a punt.

Over the last 20 years, a familiar refrain from the Raiders has been inspired defense with little help from the offense. Then in the fourth quarter the defense would get tired. Comfortable wins would become tight wins, and tight wins would become losses. Yet with Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp taking the night off, the Raiders had zero excuses for turning out the lights. Needing 2 scores, the Rams moved with little urgency. Third string quarterback John Wolford moved the Rams inside the Raiders 30 with just over 3 minutes left. However, another offensive holding penalty left the Rams facing 4th and 11. Wolford scrambled up the middle and was headed for a first down when two defenders met him just before the sticks. The whistle was blown a little prematurely, and Wolford came up one foot short with 2:09 to play. 

The main thing in a  preseason game is to escape without suffering any serious injuries. So between that and the final score, the first preaseason game for the Raider Nation was a success. 14-3 Raiders

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