After much anticipation, the new-look Oakland Raiders took the field on Friday for their first preseason action against the Minnesota Vikings. Needless to say, the result wasn’t what Raider Nation was hoping for – a ragged, somewhat discombobulated effort in the 10-6 loss.
With the hype and the expectation surrounding all of Oakland’s new acquisitions this offseason having Raiders fans in a frenzy, the egg Oakland laid in Minnesota was somewhat disappointing. But to hear some of the despondent Raider faithful tell it – in the comment section of countless articles – it’s a harbinger of what’s to come. The 2014 season is already a lost cause, and we should all just pack up our tents and go on home because there’s nothing to see here.
Emphasis on that last line.
Everybody who is lamenting the loss and spouting lines like “same old Raiders” and “get ready for more of this feeling” really does need to get a grip. It’s the first time this team – filled with a load of new starters – has played together in a live game situation, with the starters getting very limited action at that. If you really believed it was going to go perfectly smooth and without hiccups of any kind, you should really modify your expectations, if not your grip on reality.
It would be nice to believe that you could drop all of these new players into the system, have it all go flawlessly and win by 50 points. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way it works. It will take a little bit of time for the team to fully come together and jell.
Despite the way some people are reacting, one bad game – the first they’ve played together – is not the death knell for the season.
While the end result isn’t what Raiders fans were hoping for, there are some encouraging signs that can be taken from the game. RB Latavius Murray was steady coming out of the backfield with seven carries for 28 yards. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, though they saw very little of the field, showed a great burst. McFadden’s one carry went for 23 yards, while Jones-Drew’s two carries netted a total of 10 yards, showing Raiders fans, and the league, that if they can manage to stay healthy – something that might be easier with both of them sharing the workload – Oakland is going to have a very potent 1-2 punch.
Twelve different receivers caught a pass from the three QBs who saw action for the Raiders, Matt Schaub, Derek Carr and Matt McGloin. The defense racked up six sacks while the offensive line only surrendered two. And aside from the very opening drive that saw them give up 70 yards to Matt Cassel and the Vikings, the Raiders’ defense limited them to 160 the rest of the way, while the offense outgained them by a significant margin.
That being said, Oakland does have some issues that they will need to address as the preseason progresses. The offense must get sharper. The defense needs to step it up a bit. They must cut down on the absurd number of penalties (13) they took in the game. And all of the new, disparate parts must use the next few weeks to jell and form one cohesive unit. This is exactly what the preseason is supposed to be used for.
It was one less-than-inspiring game in a slate of four meaningless exhibitions. And that’s all the preseason is – meaningless exhibitions. One game – a preseason game at that – does not a season make. One preseason loss is not the death knell for the entire season.
So despite a less-than-stellar result in Week 1, some of the Raider faithful really need to take Pay Riley’s advice and “get a grip.”