Despite the score, there were some good things to come out of the fourth preseason game. Of course, there was also much that was bad.
Menelik Watson started at left tackle for the first time in his career Thursday versus the Seahawks and by all accounts acquitted himself well. The most important voice of approval came from head coach Dennis Allen today when he said that Watson had played well enough that he anticipated him being the starter versus Indy in a week.
Watson was inconsistent, which is to be expected given his recent entrance into football, but he more than made up for his lack of technique with quick feet and a good punch out of his stance. He was able to wall off the defensive ends and had good physicality in pass protection.
Pat Sims was another player who, like Watson, hadn’t played in any of the Raiders games, yet, due to injury. He, also, showed that he can be an impact player for the Raiders this year. Sims had a great burst off the ball and was a large factor in both the run and pass defense.
Sims showed the ability to penetrate and demanded double teams. He freed up some of the edge rushers, too. He needs to show that he can remain healthy but he looked like the best defensive tackle the 2013 version of the Oakland Raiders has to offer.
Kevin Burnett had another solid game and looks to be a worthy replacement for Philip Wheeler. He isn’t playing the same position – Wheeler was a Sam and Burnett is lining up as a Will – but they are similar in that they came in unappreciated by their previous team.
Like Wheeler, Burnett has shown unanticipated skills in both run support and coverage. He has the requisite stack and shed abilities that outside linebackers need – able to stop the momentum of the blockers, knock them up and off their stance and then shed them to get past them.
Against the Seahawks, Burnett made a couple of nice tackles, shedding the blocker and dropping the ball carriers. He has been a solid find for the Silver and Black this year.
The defensive contain was terrible in the game, all day long. Multiple times in the game, the Raiders tried to get to the quarterback on 3rd down only to have the quarterback escape up field in a large hole where a Raiders defender had broken his gap contain.
The Raiders defenders must show better discipline if they face running QBs during the season. They must have better gap integrity or they will give up easy first downs to QBs that aren’t statues.
The secondary had a very forgettable day, allowing the opposing QBs to throw for a cumulative 290 yards. The first team secondary was especially poor, allowing starter Russell Wilson to complete all 3 of his pass attempts for 68 total yards.
The secondary has not been as good as hoped in preseason thus far. It can only be hoped that the team’s defense will improve dramatically when they start game-planning and scheming against their opponents and that the scheme will help create turnovers or, at the very least, incompletions.
Denarius Moore came into camp as the de facto #1 receiver, with Dennis Allen saying they were looking at the third year player stepping up into an expanded role. On Thursday, Moore didn’t look like a starter and he barely looked like a player that should make the team.
Moore had several miscues including a misfire in which it looked like Pryor thought he would be going outside the DB but he cut inside, which resulted in a costly incompletion. These mental mistakes have been a constant with Moore since he was drafted. At best, it results in incompletions but several of his mental errors have resulted in interceptions for his quarterbacks as he is nowhere near where the ball is thrown.
Perhaps more costly was a drop on a 2nd down play near the sticks. Moore got both hands on the ball but couldn’t keep control of it, dropping the pass. If complete, the play would have resulted in a first down and a new set of downs. Instead, the Raiders had to try on 3rd and 10 and the next play resulted in a Pryor sack.
If Moore is going to be the receiver the Raiders want him to be, he needs to focus on being in the right spot and catches the balls that come his way.