Originally written on Thoughts from the Dark Side  |  Last updated 11/3/14
The Good Matt Flynn didn’t look likely to make the good section from the way he started as the team was unable to get any rhythm, offensively, and after having a few hits and sacks, Flynn’s internal clock to throw the ball was drastically accelerated and he would throw the ball within 3 seconds or so whether or not pressure was bearing down on him because he trust he’d be given longer anymore. However, he ran as good a two minute drill as anyone, marching down the field by throwing precision passes to his receivers in a hurry up offense. Flynn was sacked to start the drive and the next play he had an incomplete pass to Mychal Rivera.  He then went on to complete his next 6 passes, the last a beautifully placed pass to Denarius Moore over the defensive back for an 18 yard TD throw. Overall, Flynn dropped back to pass 22 times. He was sacked on 5 of those throws and turned an almost-sack into a 4-yard QB scramble. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 124 yards, total, more than half of which came on the final drive that culminated in the touchdown. Still, he was better than the other two QBs and stood out by salvaging a bad situation to get a TD on the board.   Brice Butler didn’t have the same gaudy statline in week 2 that he did versus Dallas but he was the most productive receiver on the catching 3 balls for 38 yards. He was targeted more times (4) than any other receiver. Butler has been one of the most consistently good players in camp and his preseason continues to impress. He is looking more like Denarius Moore, who had a good camp two years ago followed by a rookie season in which he was able to produce for the team, than Juron Criner, who started hot out of the gates last year before sliding into relative obscurity on the depth chart.   Jack Crawford is no lock to make this roster, even with the lack of depth at DE, so it was imperative for him to have a good game. He struggled early but stepped up later in the game, ending with a team high 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass deflected and a fumble recovery. Crawford is a bigger end and is sliding over to play DT in the nickel package. He doesn’t have great pass rushing skills and is still learning the position but he does exhibit a good motor and when he puts it all together, as he does on some downs, he looks very good.   Ryan Robinson, an undrafted rookie, has had a couple of solid pre-season games, now, and may make a push for the final roster.  He had a heads up play this week in which he scooped up a loose fumble and walked into the end zone for a defensive TD. He has good length and shows burst around the corner and could rotate in as a situational pass-rusher this season as the team lacks players with that skill-set.   The Bad Josh Cribbs was signed to be the teams’ special teams ace but he struggled fielding the ball early and didn’t do well returning it when he got his hands on it, either, a bad combination. Cribbs says he’s 100% from a previous injury, which may be the case, but he hasn’t showcased the great speed or change of direction that he exhibited in previous seasons. Cribbs is technically a wide receiver but he doesn’t do much at that position and is far down the depth chart. If he can’t be an elite returner, he has little value to the team and each spot on the roster is too valuable to waste.   Tracy Porter had a forgettable day even before leaving the field with an injury, getting beat several times at all 3 levels. He was beat by TE Nick Toon for a deep pass in which he had decent coverage behind Toon but couldn’t quite make a play on the ball. He had no safety help on that play so it’s hard to fault him too much for it. It wasn’t all bad for him but he looked to be a step behind or to recognize the plays late and he wasn’t able to be in position to break up passes or, even better, make a play on the ball. To Porter’s credit, he admitted the same, saying on Twitter, “I was unprepared for this game and my performance showed. Though its just the preseason I should have been better. Let my guys down.” He went on to say that it wouldn’t happen again. Rod Streater has been a standout in camp but wasn’t targeted at all in week 2 of the preseason. While it’s possible the coaches are specifically telling Flynn to stay away from Streater, that seems unlikely. It begs the question, then, if Streater can perform against cornerbacks on opposing teams and get open. Hopefully, as the team begins to scheme more, offensively, they’ll game plan around Streater a bit more and use his possession skills to their full advantage. Right now, however, he isn’t doing much to help the team get better and has been essentially a non-factor in both of the Raiders pre-season games to date.   The Ugly Both lines get mentioned here, again today.  The offensive line blew coverage multiple times in the game and it resulted in Matt Flynn getting sacked 5 times in the first half. It may have been errors in assignments for a couple of the sacks or it may have been that the running baks wer supposed o identify and chip blitzers on the way to their routes. Either way numerous times a blitzing linebacker or safety made their way into the Raiders backfield untouched to bring down the QB. Veterans Alex Barron and Andre Gurode, both of whom have a plethora of starting experience but neither of whom has started in recent years due to injury, both fared poorly in their first outings as starters in Silver and Blank at LT and RG, respectively. Barron lost a 1-1 battle to Cam Jordon for a bad Flynn sack early in the game. One of the later sacks was due to Gurode simply missing that the opposing safety might blitz and he committed himself to blocking the NT along with center Wisniewski, allowing the safety an unfettered path to Flynn. In fact, Gurode didn’t even realize the safety had passed him until Flynn had already been hit. On the defensive line’s side of the ball, the pass rush was non-existent for a second week. There was one play in which Drew Brees had a whopping 12 seconds to scan the field and make a pass because of the lack of pressure. The team is without three of their four projected starters on the defensive line but even so, zero pass rush for 12 seconds is inexcusable. This is a major weakness for the team and unless Jason Tarver can provide some additional rush with blitzes, the Raiders revamped secondary is going to be in trouble. After all, teams win or lose in the trenches. At this point, the Raiders are losing those battles and, if this continues, it’s likely that the team won’t be able to win many games this season because they cannot win up front.
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