Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 30-23 loss to Cardinals
Good and bad
Raiders starters played their longest stretch of the preseason in Sunday night’s 30-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. There were moments good and bad from the first unit, generally split between defense and offense. Neither side was perfect, with plenty to work on before the Sept. 13 regular season opener vs Cincinnati...
5) Return roles coming into focus
The Raiders have return specialist Trindon Holliday on the roster, but it seems increasingly likely that they go with others bringing back kickoffs and punts. Cornerback TJ Carrie returned the first three punts and Taiwan Jones was back on early kickoffs. While nothing is set in stone, using returners with other roles would save a roster spot for offensive or defensive depth.
4) Losing Watson a major blow
Right tackle Menelik Watson had struggled to find health and his way in his first two NFL seasons. Working under new offensive line coach Mike Tice, the athletic Englishman finally found his was and was developing into an asset blocking for the run and pass. His progress hit a roadblock on Sunday, when he ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon in the first quarter. Austin Howard wasn’t great in his stead, but the veteran tackle has played well there with the New York Jets and must return to form quickly.
3) WRs making roster cuts difficult
Brice Butler had two catches against Arizona, including a 30-yard strike from Derek Carr. Butler also secured a 2-point conversion that tied the game late. Seth Roberts had three catches for 52 yards. Both guys are on the roster bubble, and both guys continue to produce when called upon. Kenbrell Thompkins had one catch for seven yards and two drops in six targets after playing well this preseason. The Raiders have seven quality options for a perceived maximum of six roster spots, leaving at least one deserving player off the 53-man roster.
2) Red zone struggles continue
The starting offense has moved the football well in three games. Quarterback Derek Carr has orchestrated sustained drives toward the end zone, but has only crossed the goal line once. That came last week at Minnesota. Carr’s unit entered the red zone four times in nine series, with three field goals and a pick six to show for it. Carr has thrown both preseason interceptions inside the opposing 20, contributing to real issues crossing the goal line.
1) Defensive line showing depth
Defensive line depth was a real concern before the preseason started, but the Raiders have had several young players create steady havoc. Khalil Mack is a monster, but Denico Autry has been stout as an end and an interior pass rusher in the nickel package. Mario Edwards has 2.5 sacks in his last two games. Stacy McGee has supported Dan Williams and Justin Ellis well in the middle. Benson Mayowa provides speed on the outside of a line that has fared well even without injured veteran Justin Tuck, who will be fine by opening day.