From an average fan's perspective, the Oakland Raiders victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night was hardly anything good. Your average fan would say, "They looked good on defense but didn't do anything on offense until late in the game."
However, those with a little more insight to Raider football saw a little more than that.
How much can you see in a preseason game where the starters barely played?
That depends on what it is you are looking for.
I saw the blue print to a return to Raider football.
They didn't look like world beaters out there on Thursday night.
Being a world beater isn't what Raider football is. If that were the case, the Raiders only played Raider football three times in 50 years.
Raider football is a means to an end, not the end.
You need the means in order to get to that end anyway.
First, you need an identity.
What type of team are we going to be?
Then you need the blue print of how it's going to be put together.
There are as many ways to build a Super Bowl winner and the Raiders have done it the same way in each of their three Super Bowl wins.
They had a smash-mouth defense that included defensive lineman that harassed quarterbacks. They had linebackers that hit anything that moved. Then there was the physical secondary, that included bump and run coverage.
On offense, it remains smash-mouth football with the power-running game. The running game is set off with a vertical passing attack that includes shots down the field on go routes.
Tight ends and running backs were always featured in the passing game as well.
Al Davis once said, "It's about pressure football, not percentage football. We wanna be feared out there."
I saw the identity of Raider football on display Thursday night.
The five sacks in the first half tell you that the Raider defensive line took control. The coverage sacks the Raiders had tell you what the secondary was up to.
Rolando McClain, Trevor Scott, and Kamerion Wimbley were around the ball a lot and physical. It was all according to the blue print that led Al Davis to bring who he has brought into Raider Nation.
McClain and Co.were brought in to help the Raiders stop the run. Lamarr Houston was brought in to do that along with helping Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and Matt Shaughnessy harass quarterbacks.
The Raider secondary already was what it is with the best cover-corner in the game. Chris Johnson looks like he will rebound from getting picked on last year.
Tyvon Branch is a physical strong safety looking for his first Pro Bowl. Michael Huff is a talented free safety that broke through last year and looks to break out this year.
On offense, Michael Bush started the game running the ball with authority. Michael Bennett then took over the running duties and was effective doing so.
The deep ball was another part of Raider football that was in the mix Thursday night. Both Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller had a few near misses to Louis Murphy and Nick Miller.
But they all missed!
What does that matter?
First off, those were some very near misses. An average fan just thinks of it as a miss but those in the Raider war room see those near misses as plays they will eventually connect on with more practice.
The play where Louis Murphy had his man beat and Jason Campbell led him just out of bounds was especially big. It was a hairline miss that establishes that Murphy is a deep threat that the Raiders will take their shots with.
The Raiders saw a lot of eight and nine in the box last year so they sent a message to the NFL with those deep balls. Of course they won't take that many shots in such a small amount of time when the season starts but it shows what they plan to do.
Notice how the Raider's near misses down the field led to an effective running game. The Oakland Raider identity is to make those two ingredients go hand and hand this year.
Al Davis has philosophical continuity in the offense with Hue Jackson as his Offensive Coordinator. He brings a vertical offense from Baltimore, with 20-yard outs, digs, and comebacks.
Jackson obviously doesn't have a problem taking shots down the field with go routes either. Therefore, he won't have to worry about the red phone that Warren Sapp spoke of ringing.
Campbell is the big-armed quarterback they need to chuck it down the field. Should he miss time, the Raiders have another cannon-armed quarterback in Kyle Boller, so there will be no change in strategy.
Chaz Schilenz, Murphy, and Darrius Heward-Bey are in Raider Nation to lead the fleet of fast receivers. Yamon Figures, Nick Miller and Todd Watkins give the Raiders depth in the deep threat category.
Zach Miller is a rising star of a tight end and figures to break out this year. The Raiders usually have one of those to use in the vertical game to check down to.
Darren McFadden will also be an option in the passing game as many Raider backs before him have been. His speed and hands give the Raiders many options of how to use him in the passing game.
If running all day is what they want to do, McFadden will have Bush to share the load with. Micheal Bennett will be on stand by if more help is needed.
The offensive line is really the only unit that has questions attached to it. Center and right guard looked to be the real questions on that offensive line.
Jared Veldheer looked very good at center as did Bruce Campbell at guard. If they could play that well against starters, the offensive line in suddenly much better.
Mario Henderson is the make or break piece to that offensive line. The vertical offense the Raiders run will need Henderson to hold his block a little longer for the receivers to break open.
Raider Nation hopes he can return to his 2008 form.
The only prediction I have for the Raiders is better than last year. How much better depends on how well and how soon all the new parts come together.
One thing is for sure.
The Raiders have their blue print and identity in place.