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What we learned in the third preseason game



The third game of the preseason is often referred to as a "dress rehearsal" because traditionally, the starters of a team play a bit longer than usual in the preseason – sometimes even a full half – as a warm-up for the regular season.

Friday's Raiders-Packers game was not a dress rehearsal.

If so, the show should be canceled before it opens.

The Raiders' 13-6 win was not a big football game and offered little entertainment. It was a really uncomfortable affair that showed two bad offensive lines, terrible quarterback play, special Zambian teams and flags.

So, so many flags.

A "torturous" amount of flags, per Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

Ultimately, some of the soul-destroying horror was planned – none of the teams took the show contest seriously (Aaron Rodgers and a number of Top Packers players did not fit) – but that does not give us those endless three. plus hours of our lives.

Unfortunately, the regular season starts in two weeks – we should try to find value in the undeniable boredom.

So, what we've learned in the Raiders third pre-season game:


Jon Gruden does not tell us a damned thing

[Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area News Group]

Earlier this week I wrote that the Raiders are the NFL's biggest secret. Although there was a whole 60-minute "game" on Friday night, nothing has changed since I posted this column.

I said it then and I repeat it now: not only does Gruden play his cards near the vest – the cards are under the vest and a few other layers of clothing. He does not want you to know he has maps.

This strategy is valid – especially if the NFL are planning their opponents in the first round as preseason opponents (what the hell did the league think?) – but Gruden has really taken it to the next level.

So after three preparatory games, we have no idea what Grud's offense will look like in 2018.

There are a few breadcrumbs – the Raiders will block into one zone (more on that) and I think they will use 21 (one fullback and one tight end) and 22 (one fullback and two tight ends). Staff often – but Gruden's offensive play calling was aggressive vanilla. The Raiders are having a High School or Todd Downing offensive, and while I'm skeptical of everything, including Gruden, I'll give the Raiders' old / new coach the benefit of the doubt: He will not bother us Telling offenses – the ones he has theoretically developed in the lab over the past decade – until the season begins on Monday, September 10th.

Of course, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was on Friday with the expectation that he would play most of the first half – though not all.

With # 4 below the middle, I thought we would find some more bread crumbs. If the starting quarterback plays multiple series, it would be impossible to get a few more clues, right?

Well, this question still remains – Carr played a series and was drawn.

To be fair, it was a solid series that started with a 49-yard pass to Amari Cooper and was highlighted by a nice third down conversion deep in Green Bay territory, but these games did not tell us much about the offense of Gruden.

"There's not much else to see for me, the fight for us is who's behind Derek," Gruden said after the game. "I wanted to get Connor [Cook] the first offensive line player for a couple series, but we have a pretty good idea of ​​who our starters are, and I was very pleased with Derek when he started the game."

And on the other side …


The Raiders have no viable backup quarterback (what's new?)

Connor Cook (Jose Carlos Fajardo / Newsgroup Bay Area)

My intrepid colleague Matt Schneidman asked Gruden after the game if Carr's backup is already on the list.

The Raiders coach did not say yes.

That should tell you all about how bad Connor Cook and EJ Manuel played against the Packers.

Cook looked forward to a solid performance in the Raiders' first preparatory game after the backup job – assuming that the Raiders only have two quarterbacks on their list. This advantage was fully exploited on Friday.

Cook looked overwhelmed by a defense from Packers, consisting mainly of second and third tier players. He could not do basic NFL passes – even if he had time to throw. It was painful to watch and he finished the game 6-for-15 for 72 yards and an interception. He would have had two breaks in his name – he was rescued by a flag – and frankly, his run length is bloated from a game he has not done – a 26-yard Jalen Richard bubble-shield.

All in all a miserable evening.

Manuel played in the second half and while his stats looked better (8 of 12 for 87 yards) and he won the Raiders Touchdown against the defense of Packers, which consists of guys who will be free agents next week, to be honest, he has done nothing to make popular on Friday with the coaching staff or the fans. His best pieces were probably Scramble and there were a few litters that scratched outright.

Also, he has lost a fumble for the third straight preseason game, which must be some kind of record.

The duo's combined futility required the question Matt posed. I am intrigued to see if Gruden has a better answer in the next few days – or if he does something.

We know that he likes Cook, but there's no way the Raiders coach has confidence in Michigan State's ability to win a regular season game when Carr goes down. And meanwhile, I was surprised that Manuel even re-signed this off-season, and he's clearly not the answer, even though he may be a better option.

I understand that you are not practicing " f-ed ", but giving games – what the Raiders would do if one of those quarterbacks is called Carrs Backup – is not much of a strategy.

Where are the Raiders going?

The better question might be, "When are you leaving?"

The longer the Raiders wait, the more they become the options that are already in the house. That said, the options currently available are not huge. Matt Moore could be the cream of the harvest. (For those who logically suggest that Colin Kaepernick should be called, I doubt that the NFL, which effectively became a co-owner of the Raiders these days, having helped Vegas Vegas stadium funding for the team, would be thrilled with such a move Although Cape is the best available quarterback and the Raiders of old would not hesitate to bring such a conflagration, it is probably a non-starter.)

Maybe the Raiders could swing a trade for jets backup Teddy Bridgewater, but I doubt Gruden would give up an asset of any serious value for one Backup quarterback at this time in the preseason.

In addition, it's worth waiting for a recently cut quarterback like Chad Henne, Matt McGloin, Kevin Hogan or Tyler Bray to land after the fourth pre-season game?

Well, after Friday's game, it's impossible not to say yes.

There are many interesting things to do in Alameda, but the backup quarterback job could be at the top of the list next week. It is a difficult scenario. What Gruden does will tell.


The offensive line is in rough shape

Donald Penn (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky) AP Photo

Maybe I should not be so hard on the backup quarterbacks – after all, they played behind abysmal offensive lines on Friday.

Yes, what was once perceived as the strength of the Raiders is now an unavoidable problem.

The offensive offensive of the front row – with rookie Kolton Miller on the left tackle and Donald Penn on the right – had a hard course. The second string looked just as porous.

The last part – that's not so unexpected. They are second stringers for one reason.

The former part, though? Even though some growing pains are to be expected, when a rookie leaves the rigging, Penn shifts to the right side and a new scheme is installed, I'm not sure it should be so painful.

Penn was struck mainly for the wrong reasons on Friday. He looks more than a step behind his team-mates and sure-footed pass rushers, and he was completely in what turned out to be Carr's last snap of the game. But it was not an isolated case – he had hammered a cutting block a few games before he allowed a sacking bag. All this to say that the transition is clearly not going well, and while Penn is a pro who deserves the benefit of the doubt, the possibility still exists that a shift to the right tackle and that scheme could be too much for him.

When asked about the Penn game, Gruden turned the show over as positive. This, of course, was that he championed a veteran who sacrificed money and accepted with grace one step from his left attacking position.

"He played pretty well, he had a snapshot today where he was in power, I'll be watching
the band before I make too many specific comments, it's a work in progress, it's been a long time Doing a rehab on the side with the coaches is one thing and getting out of these games and preventing blockages is another thing – he has ways to go before he recovers 100 percent, but we appreciate his hard work. " Gruden said.

On the other side of the line, Miller did not fare much better. Without Penn's bad play, Miller would probably have been the center of attention – Penn's bloke hardly beat Miller's mark on Friday in some games.

Both tackles look good in the run game – Miller is clearly the prototype of a zone-blocking attack game with his athleticism and Penn is a street sweeper – but fitting protection may be the most important thing for the Raiders in 2018, given Carr's predilection in the Bag to be nervous, and we'll go into the first week without really knowing if the Raiders can protect the quarterback when passing downs.

Do not worry, the Rams – the week of the Raiders One – have none of the best defenses in the NFL …

Oh, wait.


Gruden must see something in Doug Martin the rest of us are missing

[Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area News Group]

Sticking with the offense, Gruden's free agent pickup Doug Martin gave some solid running on Friday walk back – it was a dress rehearsal for the former Buccaneer – and … I still do not understand it.

It's preseason. It's important that we do not have a lot of stock in the preseason – it's not really NFL football – but Gruden has persuaded Martin since he signed it and is in the final week of the preseason. I'm still waiting for the head coach the Raiders talks about it.

Martin wore the ball four times on Friday for 24 yards. There was a 16-yard run, but otherwise I would always have Martin's game in mind when he kept running into a bunch of buddy's scrimmage. He does not look in any way a game breaker.

Well, Gruden sees every day – maybe the Stockton kid still has pop. I just did not see it and with a nice stable runningback (Chris Warren and Jalen Richard were both very good on Friday), you have to wonder what Martin's role in this team is.

Unfortunately, like most things, we'll probably only be able to say something after the first week.


Arden Key has the chance to be a star – and that's a factor in the Khalil Mack "negotiations"

Arden Key (99) (Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area Newsgroup)

There's a lot Things that hold the contract of Khalil Mack, and no one has a definitive answer to what's going on with the Raiders and their Star Pass Rusher.

What we do know is that not much is being negotiated at the moment. My understanding is that the Raiders Mack and his agents have not yet made a fair deal (see: such a good deal as Von Miller's six-year, $ 114 million deal).

There are several reasons for this, though the weight of each one depends on who you are talking to.

The first is that the Aaron-Donald situation – in spite of everything one could say – is absolutely a factor. It's becoming obvious that both Mack and the Raiders are waiting for Donald and the Rams to set a market price. They are certainly closer to a deal heading south than Mack and the Raiders, so this roadblock will be cleared soon.

Another problem is that Gruden – an offensive-minded head coach – is responsible for the roster, and he may not be completely convinced that a pass rusher is worth quarterback money. It's easy to see how that could offend his feelings.

Add to the fact that if Mack is given "quarterback money", he and Carr could fill up to a third of the Raiders salary for next year, with 51 other roster spots. This kind of commitment makes it difficult for Gruden to build the kind of veteran-filled roster he wants.

Mack earned $ 13.8 million this season – that's the value of the option in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. Mack will not necessarily become a free agent when this contract expires as the Raiders can target him for an estimated $ 18 million.

If they wanted to brand him for a second year in 2020, he would earn an estimated $ 21 million. Another franchise day in 2021 would cost around $ 30 million – I would not go that far, I guess – but it's certainly not an absurd figure for one of the NFL's best players.

And while it makes sense for the Raiders to commit Mack to a long-term deal to flatten his cap hits – franchise day money is guaranteed and counts 100 percent against the cap – there is value in year to year dealing.

There are a lot of similarities to LeVeon Bell in Pittsburgh with this Mack situation – a discrepancy between the market value and the perceived value of the team – and therefore the point is that Mack will not get a new deal and will be finished in the year Be tagged in 2019 franchise.

[I cannot verify the popular theory that Davis cannot put Mack’s entire signing bonus into escrow, creating a critical problem in giving him a fair-market contract, but of the people I trust to know if such a thing is happening (which is, admittedly, a small list of people) no one has told me that is definitively not the case.]

Another reason why a Mack deal is not imminent – Arden Key.

The Raiders' defensive line looked fantastic this season, even without Mack (the venerable Jerry McDonald broke that on Friday night, as he possibly can), and Key, in limited game action, looks almost like the top-10 Talent from He was billed as a heading into the 2017 College season.

It was suggested to me earlier this week that while Mack is irreplaceable, Key has impressed so much in the practices that there is a feeling Still, the pass would be solid if the All-Pro perseveres well in the regular season.

In short, the Raiders get such a solid game of Mack's backups that they do not feel the pressure to get # 52 back into the herd.

This logic can be extended to 2019 and beyond. Again, Mack can not be replaced one to one, but this team could restore much of its production at a fraction of the cost – and is not that the strategy of the modern, team-oriented NFL?

Key has reached $ 3.4 million over the next four years. Less than a million a year for this type of talent is a bargain. Add to that Bruce Irvin ($ 8 million this season and $ 9 million next year) and a couple of backups that looked good in the preseason in Shilique Calhoun ($ 630,000 deal for 2018) and Fadol Brown $ 480k in 2018), The Raiders would be in good shape without one of the best players in the NFL.

The ability of the Raiders to claim that they do not need Mack for defense in 2018 and beyond – which is not completely ridiculous today – gives Gruden and the Company complete control of all negotiations. A pass rusher, no matter how good he is, is not as irreplaceable as a franchised caliber quarterback, and the Raiders are proving it.

Add the threat of a franchise tag and it's hard to see that the Raiders Mack will soon enter into a "quarterback" contract.


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