Where we thought the Raiders preseason opener might provide answers, what we got instead were more questions. That is, an offense touted as the power run-game mixed with west coast pass concepts would turn out to be much more — though not at first.
With Matt Flynn at quarterback, the Raiders were as billed: methodical and, well, boring. In his post game press conference, Allen would term this type of offense as “successful,” noting that such offenses “keep themselves in manageable situations.”
“So as long as we can gain positive yards on 1st and 2nd downs, put us in 3rd and manageable,” Allen continued, “we’re going to have a chance to move the ball and we’re going to have a chance to keep the chains moving.”
Flynn mostly had “success” in the short passing arena. Of the five passes he completed, four of them were thrown to receivers within three yards of the line of scrimmage. His 17 yard pass to Denarius Moore on third-and-six the exception. In total, four of five for 37 yards with one fumble. His average depth of throw — that is, how far down the field the receiver is when targeted — was roughly five yards.
Though he might have certainly showed timing, decision-making, and accuracy that Allen would later single-out as Flynn’s strengths, tonight’s game suggested that Flynn’s arm strength is a legitimate concern for the Raiders’ coaching staff. For those of us wondering how offensive coordinator Greg Olsen would manage it, these short, controlled passes might be the answer.
When it was Terrelle Pryor’s turn, a new, more exciting offense emerged. In his first play, Pryor set up under center in “21” personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, and one running back). But, with a wave of the arms, Pryor and his cohorts dropped into the pistol formation. The result: a read-option quarterback keeper for a 13 yard gain. Pryor would run some sort of the read option two more times, gaining an additional 18 yards.
Pryor wasn’t just effective running the ball. In fact, Pryor finished the game having completed six of 10 for 88 yards and one interception. While the one turnover was a glaring mistake, Pryor proved to be effective. His average depth of throw was (roughly) 11.33, more than double that of Flynn. Plus, of his four incompletions, two were essentially thrown away.
In all, Pryor showed himself to be poised and accurate (though he didn’t attempt very difficult throws) passer — not a runner. When scrambling, Pryor kept his eyes down field — connecting with Juron Criner form 23 yards on one such play. What this means for Pryor’s opportunities come the regular season, we’ll just have to wait and see. But Allen did say that he thought Pryor would be “in the mix” at quarterback.
— Matt McGloin showed why he’s holding the third-string quarterback position over fourth-rounder Tyler Wilson. McGloin connected on four of seven attempts for 78 yards and one touchdown. Like Pryor McGloin’s average depth of throw hovered in the 11-yard range. His one touchdown was an incredible 30 yard strike to Brice Butler.
— Brice Butler was the most targeted receiver, finishing the game with six total. Despite the high targets, Butler hauled in only two catches. Still, those two catches netted him 70 yards and a touchdown. His performance tonight should put Juron Criner and Jacoby Ford on notice.
— The difference between the first and second team offensive lines couldn’t be more drastic. The first-team line paved the way for Darren McFadden and his five yards on three carries. Behind the second-team line, Rashad Jennings gained 39 yards on nine attempts.
It is of interest to note that whenever the offense was not on the field, Tony Sparano pow-wowed with his offensive linemen. This certainly may not be unusual news, but whenever I glanced across the field, Dallas’ linemen were sitting quietly on the bench.
— There are plenty of questions surrounding the secondary. Nickel corner Joselio Hanson, in particular, was targeted early and often by Dallas. In total, he was targeted four times by Dallas QBs, allowing four receptions and one touchdown.
We should keep an eye on Phillip Adams, who I’ve written about before, and Chance Casey. Both had strong games, albeit against third stringers.
But, of course, it’s always nice to see this guy running around again in the silver and black.