4 Bright Spots in Oakland Raiders' 1st 2012 Preseason Game
A shutout at home is not something fun to watch, but it was preseason. Allen had hoped to impress, but preseason is the time for players to make mistakes and take those lessons into the regular season; hopefully translating to wins.
The negatives on the field last Oakland were pretty clear. Third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor had severe accuracy issues, showing he is obviously not ready for prime time. Jacoby Ford, who showed so much promise in his rookie year, spent much of last year injured. Last night, he failed to impress by dropping two passes and allowing an interception.
Ford may have been the biggest disappointment of the night.
But that's enough of the negative. It's time to move on to what the Silver and Black did right. Here is a look at the five bright spots in their first 2012 preseason game.
Everyone has been talking about rookie receiver Rod Streater. He was impressive at training camp and was a clear stand-out in the first preseason game. Streater broke out with six catches and 66 yards, taking advantage of his time on the field while Denarius Moore nurses a hamstring issue.
With the way Ford played last night, there's a good chance that Streater will see a lot more playing time over the coming weeks.
Following the game the young receiver remarked, "It felt good, it really did. That's what you work for, to come out here and make plays. It's just a great experience." (via www.raiders.com).
Backup quarterback Matt Leinart didn't seem to take long to become a true member of the Silver and Black. He threw six completions to Streater and completed 11-of-16 passes overall for 98 yards.
Coach Allen commented on the 29-year-old former USC player, "I was pleased with the way Matt came in and played there in the 2nd quarter and the end of the end of the first half. I thought he ran the offense well. I thought he executed. I thought he threw the ball well, took what the defense gave him and so he took command of the huddle and commanded the offense, so I was pleased with where he was at." (www.raiders.com)
If there were any questions lingering about the health of running back Darren McFadden, they were answered last night. He was showcased in the Raiders' first three plays and picked up 20 yards on two runs, and 18 on a screen.
McFadden made "explosive gains," as Allen noted, giving more credence to the fact that a big part of the Raiders' chances for winning this season may depend on his ability to stay healthy.
Carson Palmer remarked, "He's pretty special, obviously. It's just great to have him in the huddle. It's great for the team to see him on the field. I'm just excited to work with them and to keep getting the chemistry better." (www.raiders.com)
The Raiders' defense last night was aggressive, and their defensive line may be one of their biggest strengths in the 2012 season. They held the Cowboys to just 202 total yards and showed great discipline, committing only five penalties on the night.
Tommy Kelly looked good, sacking Dallas quarterback in the first quarter, and linebacker Phillip Wheeler showed excellent promise with his solid coverage. I strongly believe that he could make a crucial difference when it comes time to face the Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Safety Mike Mitchell was also strong nabbing the lone interception against the Cowboys. He commented on the team's new defense following the game:
"I just wanted to get an opportunity to show the world what I can do. I really haven't done anything. That interception, I don't know what he was looking at, but he threw it right to me. All camp, I felt like I've been able to put myself in the position to make plays and I've been healthy this year and I'm really excited because I feel like, when I'm healthy, I believe in the bottom of my heart with everything I have that I can be a starter in this league for a lot of teams right now. Like I said, we've got two really good safeties and I'm just biding my time. When my number gets called, I'm ready." (www.raiders.com)
Overall, I believe fans still have a lot to be encouraged about. While the game may not have been Allen's ideal way to make his debut as head coach, we have to remember that preseason is a time for evaluation and learning.
New defensive coordinator Jason Tarver should be congratulated on an outstanding job in his debut, and Allen really doesn't have much to be ashamed about either.
What matters is that the team learns from their mistakes and comes together in time for the games that really counting, starting with the home opener against San Diego on September 10.
Just believe. I do.