LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2013 — The Oakland Raiders returned from their seven month offseason layoff to host the Dallas Cowboys in the first preseason game of 2013 for the silver and black. Dallas played five days ago in the Hall of Fame Game.
With preseason games, the score is secondary. Both teams played four quarterbacks in this game. A complete recap of the game tells part of the story.
It has been over a year since Al Davis passed away, and the Raiders are slowly but clearly becoming General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s team. McKenzie has gutted the roster, whacking players with bloated contracts in an attempt to get the Raiders out of salary cap purgatory. This team has had more turnover than perhaps any Raiders team since the Al Davis era began in 1963.
Although initial preseason games are often blunderfests, this game was fairly smooth. Both teams moved the ball well, and neither team punted in the first half.
The most cause for optimism with the Raiders is special teams. While backup kicker Eddie Carmona missed one of his two field goal tries, Sebastian Janikowski is entrenched as the kicker. Seabass hit both of his field goals. The Raiders also recovered a fumbled Dallas punt and blocked a field goal. Somewhere up above the late Joe Avezzano, who coached special teams for both of these squads, was smiling.
The Raiders were solid on defense against starter Tony Romo. The backups had a breakdown at the end of the half against backup Dallas quarterback Kyle Orton. Yet overall, even without first round draft pick D.J. Hayden, the defense played reasonably well.
The offense of the Raiders remains the same question mark it has been for much of the last decade since Rich Gannon suffered a career-ending injury. Carson Palmer escaped to the Arizona Cardinals, and the Raiders tested four quarterbacks with little to no NFL experience.
Starter Matt Flynn began the game by heading sacked on a blindside blitz, resulting in a fumble that led to a Dallas field goal.
Terrell Pryor has been called a raw project since he was brought in, and remains so. He has shown flashes of brilliance running the option, but there is still a major question mark on whether he can throw the football.
Third stringer Matt McGloin was very impressive. In the third quarter, he led a five play, 81 yard drive that featured a 40 yard completion to Brice Butler. McGloin finished the drive with a gorgeous 30 yard touchdown pass to a diving Butler, who was also impressive.
Fourth stringer Tyler Wilson misfired wildly on his first couple of series, squandering excellent field position. One drive that began at the Dallas nine yard line ended up in only a field goal.
That is the main problem with the Raiders over the last few years. They kick too many field goals and score too few touchdowns.
The Raiders, as we knew them, are dead. The long ball of Al Davis has been replaced with a pure West Coast offense. Supporters of the West Coast offense insist it is not a dink and dunk offense.
It absolutely is, and Raider fans should be prepared for two yard passes on 3rd and 3 that result in punts. Coach Dennis Allen does not have the personnel for the West Coast offense, so expect plenty of offensive sputtering.
This means exactly what happened in this preseason game. There were breakdowns in the red zone, and long drives increase the risk of problems. The Raiders had a 14 play, 86 yard drive that consumed nine minutes off the clock. When Pryor threw an interception in the end zone, it was all for naught. The only time the Raiders reached the end zone was when McGloin was allowed to stretch the field.
The West Coast offense will lead to better stats without the points. The Raiders were an impressive 8 of 15 on 3rd down conversions, but only scored 19 points. They also had two turnovers.
One area where Dennis Allen has drastically improved the team is in reducing the penalties. Outside of Jon Gruden, nobody has done that in Oakland. The Raiders only had three penalties for 30 yards, a fantastic showing for the first preseason game.
One problem the Raiders have had is closing out games. They play well in stretches, but do not finish. They gave up the touchdown at the end of the half, and missed the field goal that would have put them up by five with 90 seconds to play. Instead, they clung to a two point lead.
Yet the Raiders deserve credit. The defense came through in the end, forcing four straight incompletions and preventing Dallas from getting near the winning field goal attempt. Some luck was involved, as the 4th and 10 pass was dropped.
The Raiders won 19-17 against a Cowboys team that already had one game under their belt. So while it was not pretty, it was far from ugly. The Raiders have plenty of holes, and star running back Darren McFadden barely ran enough to work up a sweat. Yet the team has potential, and third string quarterback McGloin definitely deserves another look.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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