Friday, August 14, 2009

Raiders destroy Cowboys in Preseason opener

I understand that it is only preseason football and for the most part second and third stringers are playing to make the squad. Still it is a good opportunity to see how the team is progressing, especially if you have been a Raider fan. Since our Super bowl appearance against the Buccaneers the Raiders have been on a terrible slide. With a young quarterback, 2nd year running back, and a controversial pick (by the way has Crabtree signed yet) the Raiders are developing a nucleus for the future.

The Raiders run defense is what needed major overhaul in the offseason and facing Marion Barber and Felix Jones in the first preseason game put them to the test. After getting the Cowboys to go 3 and out on the opening drive, the Raiders drove the ball down to the two yard line. On second and goal at the two, Fargas tried to jam it in but newly acquired center Carlisle held on the play moving the ball back to the 12 yard line. Two pass plays later Seabass was on the field attempting a 23 yard field goal which he made.

The second Cowboy possession will be film that the Raiders defense will go over to see what could have been done better. Cowboys started on their 29 yard line and drove the ball down to the 1 yard line. Barber looked to have scored but Kosier was caught holding the Raider lineman and the Cowboys were backed up 10 yards. After a short run by Barber, Romo had a lifetime in the pocket and finally found Whitten in the end zone for a touchdown. The Raiders defense only rushed three down linemen, not exactly sure why. I am guessing next time around they will rush at least four or bring a blitz.

Not much happened in the first quarter after that until, with 6 seconds left, Gradkowski handed the ball off to McFadden who scampered for 45 yards before being pushed out at the Dallas 17 yard line. 5 plays later Gradkowski found Stewart in the end zone for a touchdown. A few series later the Cowboys drove down to the Oakland 18 but Folk missed a 36 yard field goal.

In the second half it was all Raiders. With Russell set as the number one and Garcia firmly planted as the backup the battle in camp is for the third quarterback spot between Gradkowski and Frye. Gradkowski definitely looked the better of these two. The other aspect to watching the game was to see how the wide receivers would do. With no really marquee name, the Raiders will be very green at this position this year. Chaz Schillens emerged at the end of the season last year as a dependable receiver and continued that by catching 5 balls in limited action. Russell, who has the arm strength, will need to work on his timing and looking off the safety when the play is called for Heyward-Bey to go deep. Russell had him twice last night but both times he didn't look off the safety or the Raiders may have added 14 more points to the total.

In other NFL news, New England fans are breathing a sigh of relief today as they watched their Golden Boy Tom Brady last night show no ill form from the knee injury he sustained last year. The big news coming from the New England and Philadelphia game was the announcement that the Eagles signed Vick to a one-year contract with an option for a second year. I know the Eagles need a backup to McNabb and I am sure Andy Reid's kids need a new role model. For those of us that partake in fantasy football leagues, do not take the preseason lightly. Players get hurt during the season and recognizing players that won't start the year on the first team can help one make a playoff push and ultimately lead to the league championship.

Tonight all my Viking fans will get their first taste of preseason football. The good thing for Viking fans that since Sage and T Jack are battling for a starting job, you may see more of your starting lineup in during the preseason than in season past. I am sure AP will be a series or two and then done. Maybe there is an outside shot that Booty can leap frog Sage and T Jack into the starting role, then again probably not since that would require to Childress admitting he was wrong about T Jack.

The Raiders 31-10 victory over the Cowboys was in preseason yet it gave some positive insight into how Tom Cable plans to run this team and the improvements that have been made and where the team needs to improve. I hold no illusions that the Raiders will be in the Super bowl this year then again if you believe the league is fixed it is the Raiders 50th season. Plus Al Davis did say he will remain on until the Raiders win another Super bowl, perhaps the NFL is ready to rid them of Al and made a deal.