Well, the 2011 "fake games" are now over with as of last night. Let's take a look at what we've learned about the Oakland Raiders so far.
Even though the Raiders went 0-4, there were some bright spots. However, some things went badly and some were downright UGLY!
I'm usually a pretty positive dude. How else do you explain the articles I wrote in the past defending JaMarcus Russell? Check my archives, they're there. Unfortunately, I must say I'm a tad bit concerned.
So let's just break it down and go from there! Being the positive dude I am, we'll start with the good.
This is the easiest segment to write. A fact that makes me feel much better than some about this team despite the winless preseason.
The young offensive line has been pretty good. Jared Veldheer looks bigger, stronger and nastier than during his rookie season. Stefen Wisniewski is ready to contribute immediately. Samson Satele looks better than I remember him being and even Khalif Barnes, when he manages to not false start, has been OK!
The line isn't great, yet. What they are, though, is much further along then I expected.
Seems as though Al Davis has come through with some more late-round magic. Taiwan Jones and Denarius Moore are performing like first-round picks, not fourth and fifth rounders.
These two young playmakers should be fun to watch develop. Moore already seems very polished for a rookie receiver, and Jones has game-changing speed as well as a little bit of wiggle to his game.
If only the rookies on the defensive side of the ball were performing like Jones and Moore, but more on that later.
Jason Campbell has been fabulous so far. He looks like a totally different quarterback than the one I saw last year. He's making everyone around him better and is really becoming a leader.
I know the Raiders have struggled in the red zone, but Darren McFadden, Kevin Boss, Jacoby Ford and, dare I say, Chaz Schilens will help with that once the games start to count.
In J.C. we trust, and he'll have to be good because now we're moving on to the Bad!
What's worse, bad or ugly? I'm thinking bad is just bad, but maybe you can pretty up ugly a bit! So with that being said, did you see Quintin Groves against the Seahawks last night?
So back to the difference between bad and ugly, can he be prettied up? I'm thinking no, and I'm thinking the Raiders need a linebacker in a big, big way!
Lance Briggs anyone?
Also on the bad list, let's welcome Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards. Hopefully nothing happens to Campbell because the Raiders cannot win with either of these guys. Period.
That's it for bad. Let's move on to ugly, but fixable. Maybe?
A lot of that may be true, some of it may be not. I think he'll get better, but I don't think he has the instincts to be good.
Van Dyke has absolutely no clue where the ball is or when it's coming. His coverage is usually pretty good until the ball comes and he can't make the adjustment.
Van Dyke really doesn't deserve to be singled out, though. The entire defense, with the exception of a few plays here and there, has been completely UGLY!
Guys are constantly out of position. They look as if they've never seen basic football plays before. Did anyone not see the screen pass coming on 3rd-and-15 in the first series last night? 11 guys in silver and black sure didn't! Come on, guys, it's Tarvaris Jackson—what were you thinking. Ugly!
All is not lost, Raider fans. Most of the things from the preseason are fixable. Throw in the fact that the team was not going to risk injury with key players, or show off too much of what they are capable of doing and the 0-4 record is really no big deal.
Hue Jackson and the rest of the Raiders coaching staff will continue in the pursuit of "bully building," and they very well could succeed.
One thing is for certain, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.
The Raiders are a matchup nightmare. If they can just do some of the little things—like avoiding stupid penalties and stay healthy—it will be a good year, and the 0-4 will be long forgotten.