LOS ANGELES – With a 19-15 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, the Oakland Raiders dropped to 1-1 in Jon Gruden's first preseason back with the Silver and Black.
Here are three things you need to know from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum...
1. Progress hindered by preseason opponent
Jon Gruden wasn’t thrilled having to play the Rams in the preseason’s second game and again three weeks later when it actually matters. Starters typically play into the second quarter of this exhibition, expanding workloads from the previous week.
The Raiders went in reverse on Saturday, sitting 21 healthy players in this game to prevent the Rams from seeing too much of their personnel, play calls or hand signals. There’s no reason to help the opposition prepare to play you. The Rams took a similar tact. Both teams stripped schemes to the suds for this one, keeping exotic blitzes, pre-snap shifts and even their terminology away from prying eyes.
The Raiders will take less from this preseason game than usual, forced instead to focus on evaluating younger players.
"I’ve never been in a preseason game like this,” Gruden said. “I don’t know in the history of the NFL, if that’s ever happened. I’m not going to sit up here and cry about it because it’s the same for them as it is for us.
“But in our first year of operation (as a coaching staff), we didn’t want to play our starters. We didn’t want them to hear our audibles and see our hand signals. I don’t think they wanted us to get a feel for them either. It was a strange week of practice and a strange ballgame in that regard.”
2. Offensive line depth a concern
The Raiders have a solid starting offensive line. Center Rodney Hudson plus guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson make up arguably the NFL’s best offensive interior. Kolton Miller and Donald Penn have the ability to be a strong tackle tandem if Penn can successfully transition to the right side.
None of those guys played Saturday. Their reserves, however, didn’t show well.
Jon Feliciano is a quality player but had a bad day at the office. He had a bad snap to start the game, and was called for a false start inside the Rams’ 20-yard line. Raiders blockers were called for holding four times – one was declined – and a false start.
Brandon Parker was pushed straight back into Connor Cook got sacked when he fumbled in the first half.
It wasn’t a great day for the guys up front, and those who played Saturday and make the roster must show better when called upon. Feliciano has been a quality reserve, and there’s confidence he will be again. Parker and David Sharpe must improve on the outside. Ian Silberman is a versatile backup, and could leapfrog the other two tackles.
3. L.A. still a Raiders town
The Raiders curated a rabid, devoted fan base during their 13 years in Los Angeles, so it was no surprise their supporters turned out en masse for Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams.
After all, they hadn’t returned to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since returning to Oakland after the 1994 season.
The crowd was mostly black and silver, routinely booing Rams players and successes. They stayed engaged in a game that meant nothing, wasn’t terribly well played and manned by guys down the depth chart.
They didn’t seem to care. This was Raiders football, live on stage.
“It’s awesome being back here,” Gruden said. “The Raiders have a championship history in Los Angeles. There were a lot of fans here who remember those teams, and rightfully so. We appreciate their support and, hopefully, in a few weeks (when they play the Rams to open the regular season) we can give them a better game.”