The 2012 pre-season is now history and it’s time to take a closer look at how the Oakland Raiders’ offense performed as a whole during this period.
Carson Palmer had a disappointing pre-season. We all know how productive he can be in the NFL and also remember the impressive moments he had last season despite signing with the Raiders very late in the season and getting the starting job without the proper preparation. So the expectations are high for this year, since Palmer got the opportunity to work with the team in a full offseason. But his pre-season performances are definitely not how the Raiders expect him to perform. Even though Palmer could move the ball fairly well in all games, he did an awful job taking care of the ball, forcing passes and overthrowing receivers. The result were zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Palmer is that kind of QB who likes to take a lot of chances and takes the high risk/reward plays often, but he needs to make sure it pays off. If he does, the Raiders will be fine. Matt Leinart looked like the most comfortable of the trio with the offense, and it makes sense since he already worked under OC Greg Knapp in Houston. Although he was not stellar, he made the plays he was supposed to make and did not take too many risks. Terrelle Pryor had a slow start, with two lackluster performances against Dallas and Arizona where his scrambles didn’t work and his passes were not accurate. But he had a breakout game against Detroit, impressing with his elite speed for the position and also three pretty nice throws, two of which turned out to be touchdowns. Against Seattle, Pryor had zero help from the OL and the lack of time in the pocket didn’t give him any chances of success. It’s obvious that he’s still a project and he’s not ready for a starting job yet, but at least he showed on this pre-season that he has a very interesting potential.
Overall Grade: C
Darren McFadden had a strong pre-season even though his touches were very limited. And that was the right move by the coaching staff, as they look to keep their best player healthy and fresh for the regular season. But on his few opportunities, “DMC” showed that he’s back from the foot injury that sidelined him for 9 games last year. It’s pretty hard not to like him: he has the speed and power to either run around or over the defender, and makes a pretty good job also as a receiver. If he’s finally able to stay healthy for a full season, he will compete strongly for the MVP award. Taiwan Jones proved once again that he has elite speed and quickness and is able to make plays even if the OL doesn’t give him a good gap. With that playmaking ability, he earned the primary backup job. He also did not have problems taking care of the ball. The same can’t be said about Mike Goodson, who had some fumbling issues and was not as impressive as Jones. Even though he seems to be a pretty good fit for the zone-blocking scheme, Goodson did not play as well as Jones, but he will see his share of carries, even though it will be a reduced one at first.
Overall Grade: B
When the post-draft practices began, nobody knew who Rod Streater was. Now, a few days away from the regular season opener, the undrafted rookie out of Temple is well on his way to become a fan favorite, not to mention he already had plenty of first-team experience and could start against the Chargers on week 1. And he deserves it. Streater made the most of his opportunities, specially with injuries to established Raiders receivers like Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, and proved to be a WR who has great hands and is a chain-mover, a type of wide out that the coaching staff was certainly looking for. Calling Streater the “Pre-Season MVP” would be no stretch at all, but the question is: Can he carry those performances into the regular season? Darrius Heyward-Bey did not shine, but he showed that he still has a good chemistry with Carson Palmer and had some nice moments. Juron Criner was only able to play the way he was practicing since the OTAs against Detroit in week 3, but he did it in exciting fashion, scoring 2 TDs in impressive plays. Moore did not play at all and Ford had very limited playing time, but the Raiders already know what to expect from these players when they come back. Travionte Session did a decent job on the latter part of games and earned himself a practice squad spot, along with also undrafted rookie Brandon Carswell. Overall, the receivers were solid for the most part of the pre-season, making plays for the quarterback and not committing many mistakes considering the low level of experience that was on the field for the most part of the games.
Overall Grade: A
It was expected to be a close position battle between Brandon Myers, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon for the starting TE spot, but that wasn’t the case once these players hit the field. Myers, even though he had limited time due to a shoulder injury, showed that he is the number one guy against Detroit. He’s the most balanced of the trio, providing over average blocking and receiving skills. David Ausberry did not play as well as expected. He wasn’t able to make himself a factor in the receiving game even though that’s his biggest asset since he’s a converted college receiver. Richard Gordon dealt with a ribs injury that slowed him down a bit, but when he was on the field he did what was expected from him: a blocking TE with not much to help as a receiver. To be fair, the TEs were not involved in the passing game often, but still there’s a bit of disappointment since a battle that was supposed to be heated, ended up being won with relative ease by Myers.
Overall Grade: C
The first-team OL had a pretty solid pre-season. They did a better job in the passing game, providing Palmer time to develop his reads and make the throws. The running game was pretty good too, but lacked consistency on goal-line situations. The starters remained the same since the beginning against Dallas (Alex Parsons started in place of Stefen Wisniewski due to injury) and they are looking like a pretty solid group, which is always crucial to an offense success. The number of penalties was low and theyseem to be a more discipline group in comparison to last year. The second-team OL certainly was not as solid, having consistency issues and ending the pre-season with a dreadful performance against Seattle. On the other games, the backups had more good moments than bad, but committed more penalties than the starters.
Overall Grade: B
Greg Knapp’s offense only had one convincing performance, against Detroit in week 3. Apart from that game, the offense lacked balance and variety in the playcalling, but we all hope that’s because it’s pre-season where coaches like to use a limited playbook. But one thing that was common to all games was the offense having a hard time getting into the endzone from redzone and goal line situation, specially the running game. The Raiders got too many stuffed runs at the goal line, as the zone-blocking scheme once again seems to have its flaws in those type of situations. Greg Knapp wasn’t able to correct that and it is still a concern heading into the regular season.
Overall Grade: C
The Raiders will host the Chargers on September 10th at 7:15 P.M. (PDT) to start the 2012 regular season.