The Raiders came into their third preseason game with a lot of young defensive backs and uncertainty at linebacker. This was a sore spot before the game, and Drew Brees came to town and ripped that wound wide open.
This was a game of pick and pop up and down the field for the Saints. Brees had his choice of receivers on the Saints’ first three drives, scoring on each of them with relative ease. On the first two drives, his favorite prey was rookie Demarcus Van Dyke. DVD gave up 73 of the 80 yards as the Saints marched down the field for a touchdown. The other seven yards were rushing — including the last one yard plunge for the score.
“There’s no doubt, he’s got to learn from this,” said Hue Jackson after the game. “He’s a rookie, he’s a very talented young man, and he’s learning the NFL game… And until he makes them consistently and he’s out there, he’s going to get targeted. That’s the way this league is. Wherever you’re bleeding, they’re going to keep scratching that area.”
The Raiders responded with a touchdown on their own first drive. Those yards were shared by Michael Bush and Derek Hagan mostly, with Hagan scoring the touchdown on a catch and run 35 yards to the endzone.
But the celebration was short lived as the Saints went back to work on that gaping wound they had torn open. This time they decided to leave DVD alone and test the rest of the Raider secondary. The results were similar. Stanford Routt, Michael Huff, and Tyvon Branch were abused for the bulk of the yards with an even share of the blame. It was to be a second consecutive touchdown to begin the game, and it put the Raiders down 14-7.
This time the Raider offense was unable to respond but when the Saints got the ball back, they had continued success. They would play pitch and catch down the field again with a few timely plays coming at the end of the drive only to give up a field goal.
That would be Drew Brees’ last series and he left the game having dominated the battle of first teamers 17-7 midway through the second quarter. He finished 15 for 23 for 189 yards on three drives.
Hue Jackson acknowledged the play of his team against Brees after the game.
“We have good players and our good players need to play great,” said Jackson. “[The Saints] were going up and down the field. And we need to make some plays. We got to get people off the field. There was some opportunities on third down and we didn’t get them off the field. Obviously they are a very good offense and I take my hat off to their offensive football team and Sean [Payton] and what they do but you know what, we got some good defensive players and we got to make those plays.”
On the ensuing possession, the Raiders’ first team offense would get a decent drive against the Saints’ first team defense to set up Janikowski for a long 57 yard field goal which would allow the team to lick their wounds a little bit.
The defense then came ack on the field and forced a three and out, but the Saints’ quarterback was backup Chase Daniel, so there wasn’t much to celebrate.
After the Raiders had moved the ball down the field in one final attempt to pull even, Campbell ended their chances by throwing into double coverage for an interception to conclude the first half down 17-10. You couldn’t help but wonder how bad it would have been if Brees had remained in the game.
The story of the first half, outside of the drubbing the Raiders took at the hands of Brees, was the play of Derek Hagan. He was given the number 80 earlier this week and he played like a certain number 80 who donned the Silver and Black in the early 2000′s. He finished the game with 6 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders were only able to put together 10 more points in the second half while giving up another 23 points. But the story in the second half was the play of Taiwan Jones.
As much as has been said about Jones by his coaches and by the media from practice, he was even better. Every cliché attribute you can place on a brilliant runner he had on full display in this game. He broke tackles, and ran by and around tacklers making all the right moves along the way. He finished with 99 yards from scrimmage on 13 carries and 2 catches.
Outside of the performance of Jones, the Raiders continued to take a pounding on defense. They gave up two huge catches on drives that both resulted in touchdowns. As bad as the first team secondary was, the second and third team were equally horrific. They allowed Chase Daniel to rack up 191 yards passing and two touchdowns with a 125.0 passer rating.
With the possible exception of undrafted rookie Sterling Moore, the Raiders defensive backs were terrible across the board. In the post game press conference, the one area that appeared to frustrate Hue Jackson the most was the play of his secondary.
“It’s an issue,” Jackson seethed. “I couldn’t tell you if it’s scheme or assignment. I mean, obviously on that side of the ball we have some work to do. But we’ll do it, we’ll do the work and we’ll get it done. As I said a week ago, thank gosh this is not the regular season. We got some fixing to do and I understand that and we’ll get it done.”
The Raiders managed a 22 yard touchdown run by Taiwan Jones and a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, and the Raiders were double up for the loss at 40-20.
The Raiders are now 0-3 this preseason, with one more preseason game next week versus the Seattle Seahawks. If they lose that game, they will go 0-4 in the preseason for the first time since 1989 when Mike Shanahan did it. That team began that season 1-3 and Shanahan was fired in favor of Art Shell who finished the season 8-8.