The Oakland Raiders walked away with an 18-3 win over the St. Louis Rams in Week 1 of the preseason. Clearly, the score is not what matters. Individual player performance, coaching and team chemistry is what we can analyze in the preseason. The Raiders shined in all areas against the Rams.
From the first team all of the way down to the fourth quarter warriors, the team played as a unit more than fans have seen in years. Obviously the Raiders were far from perfect, but they did much better than I and many others expected. They only had two penalties. Guys on defense hustled like they had Ken Norton Jr. actually out there yelling at them to go harder. On offense, there was the kind of chemistry one would expect after a lot more time than these guys have had.
Of course, there were areas on which the team needs to work. The secondary and pass rush looked better than expected, but still not good enough. The defense in general also needs more discipline. The hustle was great to see, but a side effect was players over-pursuing and running themselves right out of plays. The Raiders’ offensive line played well and opened up holes, but there’s a lot of work to be done at the right guard and right tackle positions.
Also, while the Raiders clearly have their starting running back for the 2015 season in Latavius Murray, everything behind him is just one big garbled mess. Trent Richardson played better than expected, but that’s not saying much. Michael Dyer, a guy fans were holding out hope for, barely did anything. Roy Helu, Jr. has been injured and Taiwan Jones, a guy who was a cornerback last year and used to exclusively play special teams, is looking like one of the favorites to become Murray’s primary backup.
You can’t take too much away from a preseason game, but you can use them to try and build momentum heading into the regular season while evaluating your players. The Raiders walked away from their preseason debut both without any major complaints and with optimism around much of what they were doing. They hope to see more improvement from their players and to continue to play as a disciplined team tomorrow against the Vikings. At the same time, the Raiders — who’ve been bad for over a decade — are also hoping for a win because they can use every bit of momentum they can get in order to turn this thing around.