Although the preseason still has a week to go, I think we have seen enough to make some judgments about certain aspects of the Oakland Raiders, with the first roster cuts coming Monday afternoon.
What has gone well the first three games?
McKenzie is known to have an eye for finding the best players in the NFL draft and the best undrafted free agents. With guys like Rod Streater, Juron Criner and Jamie Cumbie lighting up the preseason, McKenzie is proving that he knows how to evaluate young talent.
Speaking of those young players, Streater leads the team with 18 catches through three games. Criner put on a show with Terrelle Pryor in the second half of the Raiders first preseason win. He made only two catches, but they combined for 115 yards and both were touchdowns.
Dennis Allen was brought to Oakland to do two things: fix the defense and teach discipline to reduce penalties. So far it looks like D.A. has done a great job at both.
Opposing offenses are no longer gutting the Raiders front line with the running game (the Lions averaged a yard per carry in the first half Saturday night) and the Raiders have had a significantly lower number of penalties. I will also give credit to Allen's defensive coordinator Jason "The Mad Chemist" Tarver for the much improved defense.
What has gone bad the first three games?
In a word: health. Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Richard Seymour, Aaron Curry, Stefen Wisniewski, the list goes on. As if those absences aren't enough, Sebastian Janikowski got hurt on a kickoff as he tried to tackle the return man.
In another word: offense. The first team offense finally reached the end zone on a one-yard plunge by Darren McFadden, and it took them three games. Go back to Arizona last week when the Raiders had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line and failed to score. The playcalling was very questionable as Greg Knapp was calling for stretch plays when all they need was a yard.
Sure, the Raiders put up over 500 yards and 31 points against Detroit, but most of that was from the second string offense.
The jury is still out on....
Terrelle Pryor. After playing sloppy the first two games, he took the game over against the Lions in the second half with his speed. After the terrific showing he had last night, why is he not in the good section? He needs to be consistent. He only threw five passes, completing three of them. He needs to go to Seattle on Thursday night and do it again.
Taiwan Jones. After missing two games with a hamstring injury, Jones made a case for the spot behind McFadden on the depth chart. He had 50 yards on 10 carries but it was his first preseason action. Like Pryor, Jones needs to come out against Seattle and do it again.