Well I have cautioned against putting too much stock into what we see in preseason game, especially the 1st one. But none the less, I have watched the starters 3 times now, and have the backups on my TV screen as I type, and of course have had some things stick out in my mind.
Observations from Friday's game:
- I said I was going to be keeping a close eye on Jake Grove and I did. Save for 1 play he looked very good out there. He handled Franklin one on one when called on to do that, and got to the 2nd level very well on inside zones. The one bust was where Russell got sacked. The Niners stunted out of a 4 man front on the plays, and the whole line was a cluster fuck. Hard to say who blew the assignment, but Grove definitely didn't help things.
- Did Nike fit Gerard Warren with roller skates rather than cleats? He was regularly blown 3-5 yards off the line.
- Howard looks much more aggressive against the run this year.
- Tommy Kelly getting quick penetration blew up 2 plays on the Niner's initial drive. It is hard to pull when the DT has pushed his blocker back in the way. He will have to do a better job with double team though. He got his ass handed to him when the Niners doubled him.
- For all the consternation about the Raiders ability to pass block, they did an adequate job of picking up the blitz, with the aforementioned stunt being the 1st teams only real breakdown.
- The Raiders looked better against the run, but I think we may be getting a false read due to the sucktitude of the Niners, there were some gaping holes available due to Kelly's penetration, combined with Burgess taking it wide, and Warren having a brand new pair of roller skates. A better running team will take advantage of this if it isn't shored up.
- I've already read how McFadden has proved the naysayers (haters) wrong with his strong showing at RB. Look, I've held back on my rhetoric about what a poor pick he was, lets all hold off on anointing him as a Superstar until he shows a little more. Like maybe breaking a tackle. Sure Papa said he broke a tackle almost every time McFadden touched the ball, but running through the hole is not breaking a tackle. He did a great job of falling forward after contact, but in the NFL you have to break tackles to be great.
Overall the Raiders looked good for this point of the preseason. The Passing game is always the last thing to come around, add in a QB in Russell who is essentially a rookie, and I didn't expect much. Bush showed some real promise as the Thunder to Bush's lighting. And the Raiders 2nd/3rd string defensive line looked like there could be a couple diamonds in the rough out there. Sure this was to moribund Niners, but this is the kind of football the Raiders will need to play to win this season, Pound the rock, with the TOP and turnover battle, and get some big plays along the way. Very encouraging.