The Raiders play the Detroit Lions tonight at 7pm at the O.Co Coliseum for their second pre-season game of the 2014 season. They will be looking to put last week’s 10-6 loss to the Vikings behind them and work towards getting better before the games start counting.
I will be looking for the following:
1. Can the offense get into a rhythm?
Last week, the first team offense couldn’t get started because penalties kept killing their drives. In all three drives in which Matt Schaub was the quarterback, there were offensive penalties that took the team to second and long situations. The question this week is: can the first team go on a sustained drive that leads to points?
The offensive line looked out of sorts last week but had a better week versus the Cowboys in practices this week. Likewise, Schaub and the receivers had a solid week against the Cowboys secondary, which is projected to be one of the worst in the leagues.
The Raiders want to be a run-heavy team and so they will come out trying to run down the Lions’ throats and also hope to have some explosive plays in the passing game. The first team offense will likely play at least a few more series in tonight’s game to grow as a group.
2. Can the secondary stop anyone?
Versus the Vikings, the first team defense struggled to stop former first round wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, giving up a number of passes to the second year player. Patterson, while showing great promise last year, was no world-beater and the fact that he was able to tear through the Raiders starting cornerbacks doesn’t bode well.
When the Raiders practiced against the Cowboys over the week, Dez Bryant basically ran freely against the same Raiders secondary, nabbing a number of receptions over the two days.
The Raiders will face another test tonight, with the Lions wide receiver corps – can they cover anyone tonight? We will see.
3. Can the first team defense get pressure?
The Raiders re-vamped defensive line did okay versus Minnesota but there is a lot of room for improvement. The stat line of 6 sacks on the night was padded by the second and third team defenses and wasn’t reflective of the pressure that the first team was able to bring.
In fact, Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel was near perfect on his opening, and only, drive of the game in large part because the Raiders weren’t able to pressure him and the secondary wasn’t able to cover their top receiver.
Pass rush goes hand in hand with a secondary’s ability to cover. If the defensive line cannot win their matchups and get to the quarterback, the secondary will have another long night trying to win their battles.