Most of Raider Nation has its collective hand on the panic button after the Oakland Raiders lost to the San Francisco 49ers 17-3. They worry for nothing as Raider head coach Hue Jackson looked like he wanted to experiment more than he wanted to win.
Either that or he is deathly afraid to get another starter or potential starter hurt before the regular season. The Raiders already have five of such players out with injuries so I could see why Jackson would do that.
Or maybe he just wants to see who else he can count on other than his starting defensive unit. All I know is that I saw a lot of action with the 49ers' ones on the Raiders' twos in the game.
Jason Campbell getting his bell rung early in the game did't help either.
But the Raiders are much better off than last Saturday's score would indicate as I found a lot of what I was looking for going into the game.
Turn the page to see what I was looking for vs what I found.
If you want to just look at statistics, you can surely say that the Raiders got killed on defense Saturday. But if you really want to look at it the right way, the Raider ones didn't allow any points and forced two turnovers.
Forcing turnovers is something the Raiders haven't been very good at the last few years so this is a good sign. When the first unit was in, the 49ers got most of the crucial yards on Jerome Boyd, who isn't likely to even be on the team when the season starts when Mike Mitchell comes back.
Tyvon Branch gave up his chunks on third down too so maybe he's making Mitchell's case to start. The cornerback position was supposed to be the weakness of the defense after the Cardinal game but this week showed it's clearly not.
Richard Seymour Tommy Kelly, and Rolando McClain showed the Raiders won't get gutted up the middle this year. However, the 49ers did get outside on runs Saturday but 12-yard gains did turn into 71-yard touchdown runs on the first unit.
I'll have more on outside runs later but the first unit made the 49ers go the length of the field with multiple-play drives and didn't let the 49ers finish with points.
That's an improvement from last year as points are what counts the most.
I still believe in quarterback Jason Campbell but he needs to get it together much faster this year. Fine, he was 5-for-7 for 74 yards, had a great quarterback rating of 105.7 and move the ball well.
But the name of the game is putting the ball in the end zone and Campbell didn't do that. The name of the game especially for the Raiders is making plays when they are there and Campbell didn't do that.
Near the goal line, Campbell had tight end Kevin Boss open early on a play-action bootleg and didn't throw. Campbell continued to run and Boss got open again and Campbell was looking to pump fake a rusher instead of finding Boss open in the end zone.
All he has to do is throw it up and Boss will get it.
Later on, Campbell got himself killed by running left when he should have gone right under pressure. Campbell was knocked out on the play and the Trent Edwards, the team's No. 3 quarterback had to go in the game.
Edwards would go on to throw an interception in scoring territory with the Raiders' No. 1 offense. Campbell needs to get in the habit of taking advantage of scoring opportunities now so he can get off to a better start than last year.
He's playing in the same offense this year so he needs to make decisions faster before he gets hurt.
That being written, I believe he will and the Raider ones did move the ball well.
I'm starting to believe the Jared Veldheer is the guy at left tackle for the Raiders. He got credit for giving up two sacks in the game but in no way did I see that those sacks should be chalked up to him.
On one sack, Campbell stepped up slowly after Veldheer pushed his man past him and didn't throw or run the ball. Near the goal line, the ball has to be thrown quickly or a decision has to be made to run it because there are too many men on the line of scrimmage.
On the other sack, Veldheer had his man without problems but Campbell wrongfully ran left when pressure came from another area. Justin Smith was then able to disengage from Veldheer easily and make the sack because he was already to Veldheer's left.
What I liked the most is Veldheer handled the speed of one Aldon Smith and the power of Justin Smith. I have criticized Veldheer heavily in the past but he has looked very good so far this year.
I don't think left tackle is the problem for the Raiders in 2011.
Demarcus Van Dyke had himself a good game.
Ted Ginn Jr. and Braylon Edwards are no Larry Fitzgerald but Ginn Jr. did cook Darrelle Revis for a 60-plus yard touchdown in his big year of 2009. Braylon Edwards himself is a dangerous deep threat that can make a big play at any give time.
When either of the two went deep on Van Dyke, he was with them stride for stride. Van Dyke did give up a catch to Edwards but it was nothing big and he didn't get picked on much starting along side Stanford Routt.
If Van Dyke keeps progressing, the Raiders will be a little deeper at corner.
So you want a veteran wide receiver?
How about Derek Hagan?
Hagan has done a good job of presenting his big body to Raider quarterbacks and making the catch all camp long. The Raiders usually keep five receivers but I believe they kept six last year and likely because of injury.
Well, the Raiders have plenty of injuries at the position this year so I'm guessing it will be six this year. Hagan has made a big case for himself as Miller has been alright but hasn't shown why the Raiders must keep him.
His edge in staying on the team has always been returning punts.
But that's now in jeopardy because rookie Denarius Moore made big plays on punt and kick returns in back to back preseason games. Hagan has the most NFL game experience of all the Raiders' receivers and gives the Raiders a big body in case Chaz Schilens stays hurt.
Miller could have shown more value as a receiver but stopped running as if he didn't want the ball on a nice throw by Trent Edwards. I guess he heard the footsteps of 49er safety Dashon Goldston, who would have missed his attempt to hit Miller.
Miller would have made the team if he made that play.
Chimdi Chekwa looked pretty good for it being the first NFL action of his young life. He was in his man's hip pocket all day long as he gave up one catch on the day on a play he wasn't far from the receiver.
I'm sure the talented corner will build on last Saturday going forward so the corner position will get even deeper as the season goes on. One thing I really like about Chekwa is that he's physical and isn't afraid to come up and make a tackle.
Steerling Moore played well too so Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware can both go. Free safety Michael Huff is going to play nickel corner so that's one less corner the Raiders should keep.
Maybe the Raiders will keep more receivers because of it.
I have criticized Quentin Groves on many an occasion last year, not realizing that last year was his first at outside linebacker. This year, especially last Saturday, Groves looked like he came a long way as an outside linebacker.
He set his edge on outside runs and looked a whole lot better when he was in pass coverage. In fact, when the 49ers did get outside, Groves was either not on the field or the went to the other side.
Later in the first half, the Raider ones were taken out with Groves still in the game. Groves continued to set the edge for backup middle linebacker Travis Goethel but he wasn't there to make the play when the runner turned back inside.
Groves has improved so I look for the Raiders to play the run better when the season starts.
Can you believe it?
Darrius Heyward-Bey is playing like a receiver drafted in the first round so far this preseason. It took until his third year to show Raider Nation something but he looks like that guy so far.
He always had the 4.25 40 speed but last year, he showed a huge improvement in his hands but couldn't get open. In the first preseason game this year, he showed the ability to run routes and get open.
Then Saturday, he showed the ability to judge and adjust to the football in the air and go get it.
That makes a complete receiver right?
He didn't read the blitz and cut his route short on the Raiders' first third down.
When he does all that consistently, he'll be a complete receiver!
Denarius Moore is the truth!
He started the game last Saturday and rewarded the Raiders with two big catches and a 48-yard kick return. I wonder what Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens, and Jacoby Ford are thinking at this time.
I think they're going to recover from their injuries a little faster than they originally would have. This kid is the steal of the 2011 draft and deserves to have some footballs thrown his way when the season starts.
It doesn't matter if he starts because he'll be in when the Raiders need a play.
Surprisingly, David Ausberry didn't get much of an opportunity to build on the touchdown catch he made against the Cardinals. More surprisingly, Ausberry didn't make the most of the opportunity that he did get.
He dropped it!
Ausberry has good hands but I guess a rookie is a rookie regardless of his skill level. I would have liked to see the Raiders go back to him to see how he battles back after a drop.
The Raiders really need to find out after seeing starting tight end Kevin Boss limp off the field. The word is that the injury isn't serious but the Raiders need to at least see how far Ausberry has come.
That way, the Raiders can make a solid plan B if Boss does go down.
I want to see Ausberry block more and I don't mean on special teams.
There have been rumblings out of camp that Bruce Campbell looked good during his first week of practice. Last Saturday's game confirmed that Campbell is looking good and ready to start at right guard.
We all knew that he was big, strong, and fast but yesterday, we found out he was hungry and mean. That's what the Raiders need to build their "bully" as Campbell played a beat past the whistle on his first two plays, causing skirmishes.
Overall, Campbell played well.
He was good in the running game, getting push off the line of scrimmage and sustaining his blocks. Campbell was also good in the passing game, not getting pushed back into the quarterback, recognizing stunts a picking them up.
He's Raider owner Al Davis' boy.
I think he just became Jackson's boy too.
He's a "bully!"
He should start when the regular season comes.
Joseph Barksdale missed a couple of assignments but he looked good overall and should start getting more work to straighten things out. He especially needs to replace Khalif Barnes, who threw a couple of no-hitters in the run game. (A no-hitter is a play where the offensive lineman doesn't hit anyone.)
His pass protection was okay but so was Barksdale's.
Barkdale showed that he was a much better run blocker that Barnes and right tackles need to run block well. Barnes was a left tackle at one time so maybe he should go back there to back up Veldheer.
I pushed for Barnes to get a chance to start last year at left tackle but this is a different year. Now, I'm ready to push for him to be cut if he doesn't show us something next week.
It's better to start rookies when veterans play like that.
The rookie is pretty good too.
Last year, I thought Samson Satele played on skates and I didn't want to see him start at center anymore. This year, I think Satele looks good but I believe he is being outplayed by Stephen Wisniewski.
After the preseason Week one loss to the Cardinals, Jackson described Wisniewski's play as "unbelievable" Jackson even tinkered with Wisniewski at left guard in practice to get him in the starting lineup.
Stephon Heyer looks like his injury is going to be better quickly so he will probably take that spot when he comes back. This will leave Wisniewski to focus on playing center and if he continues on the path he's on, he'll be the Raiders' next great center.
The Raiders can then start doing some "bullying."
Please take your hand off of the panic button!
It's really okay!
Winning preseason games is about depth and the Raiders don't have too much of that right now. There are seven starters or potential starters out for the Raiders right now and team MVP Darren McFadden is among them.
Then you have play making receivers Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Jacoby Ford out. Offensive lineman Stephon Heyer is a big, physical, lineman that I fully expect to take the left guard position for the Raiders.
Remember, they may not be great but the 49ers are among the most physical teams in the NFL. They beat the Raiders by manhandling them from quarter one to quarter four last year.
They did the same thing in the preseason too but it didn't happen like that on Saturday with the ones in. Their biggest plays and scoring came with the twos in as the Raider ones allowed zero points.
When the ones were in the 49ers got outside a couple of times for some 12 yard runs but no home runs like last year. In the passing game, they picked on Jerome Boyd, Walter McFadden, and Tyvon Branch.
I don't expect to see McFadden and Boyd on the team when the regular season starts. And when Mitchell comes back, Branch is either going to have to either cover better or go take a seat.
What I liked is that the Raiders showed that they closed the physical gap on the 49ers.