The Oakland Raiders beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-3 Saturday night, but let’s be honest, the score of the preseason opener really doesn’t matter in the long run.
What does matter though, is the tape that the guys who did play put out there, both good and bad.
Everything’s a little nicer after a win, so here are six observations from a beautiful night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
1. It was the rookie show
While nearly every Raiders starter watched Saturday night’s game from the sidelines, such was not case for the Silver and Black’s rookie class as every member of the team’s nine-man draft class – save Josh Jacobs – went to work against the Rams.
In fact, six rookies earned the start Saturday night; Foster Moreau on the offensive side of the ball, with Jonathan Abram, Clelin Ferrell, Isaiah Johnson, and Maxx Crosby earning nods on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s starting 11.
When all was said and done, none of the Raiders rookies had game-breaking performances – Clelin Ferrell probably had the best statistical night with two tackles and one tackle for loss – but the chance to get out there and compete against a live defense is invaluable for the first-year Raiders.
2. Glennon and Peterman handled the quarterbacking
Unsurprisingly, Derek Carr was a spectator for the entirety of Saturday night’s affair – no reason to see No. 4 until September 9 – but in his stead, Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman got a chance to show Head Coach Jon Gruden what they’ve got in their arsenal.
Well, it was – as one would imagine – a mixed bag for the two signal-callers.
Glennon got first crack under center, and while he did too some nice things – he completed 17 of his 25 attempts – his opening effort as a Raider will be remembered for his two interceptions, one of which came in the red zone.
Following Glennon’s exodus, Nathan Peterman entered and went the rest of the way, going nine for 12 for 66 yards and and a touchdown while also adding an electric 51 yards on the ground.
Now, will either of those performances leave the casual fan wowed? Probably not, but it’s just Week 1 of the preseason; let’s see how the rest of August treats the two quarterbacks.
3. J.J. Nelson stayed hot
J.J. Nelson has enjoyed a quality start to his first training camp as a Raider, and he kept the good times rolling Saturday night, hauling in a gorgeous 38-yard pass from Mike Glennon on the team’s opening drive of the night that set up their first points of the preseason.
Nelson was our guest last week on “Upon Further Review” – shameless plug alert – and he told us that while he’s thought of primarily as a deep threat, there’s a lot more to his game than just getting behind the defensive back.
That said, the former Arizona Cardinal is pretty good at doing just that, and he showed that ability off yet again Saturday against the Rams.
Nelson recorded just two catches on the night, good for 43 yards, but his first quarter haul was one of the team’s best plays of the evening.
4. Paul Guenther’s defense impressed early
Alright, Paul Guenther, I see you.
After last year’s statistical output, all eyes were justifiably honed in the Raiders defense this preseason, but give the group credit, they started the preseason off on a high note.
Yes, I know that Jared Goff and Todd Gurley were nowhere to be seen on the field of play this evening, but even so, Guenther’s group delivered about as complete of a performance as one could hope for in a preseason opener.
The pressure on Blake Bortles and Brandon Allen was there for much of the night – note Arden Key’s second quarter sack – and the coverage held up for much of the night as well, in fact, at the end of the first 30 minutes of play, the Rams defense had tallied just 110 total yards.
With a win to top it all off, that’s one heck of a way to start off the preseason for the Raiders defense.
Take a look at the action from the Oakland Raiders' preseason matchup with the Los Angeles Rams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
5. The punting battle is on
It was one of the battles I was most excited to watch tonight, and I have to be honest, Round 1 of the Townsend/Cole throwdown was a bit of a tossup.
The undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State punted four times during his debut in Silver and Black, averaging 43 yards per punt, while also pinning the Rams inside the 10 with one of his attempts.
Townsend on the other hand, enjoyed the longest boot of the night – a 55 yarder in the third quarter – but was perhaps a little more inconsistent than Cole.
What is certain though, one punter didn’t steal the job Saturday night, so keep an eye on these two young fellas over the next three weeks.
6. The score
I know it doesn’t matter – at all – but everything is better when you win.
The Silver and Black now own a 1-0 record in the preseason, and after a brief return to Napa, will travel to Arizona Wednesday in advance of their Thursday night game against the Cardinals.