Wins are not usually important during the preseason. The goal is to evaluate the roster so the team can win during the regular season.
Fans shouldn’t get too excited about preseason wins, no matter how impressive they might be. Remember the Raiders undefeated preseason and two win season under Art Shell? That will scare most fans straight.
Still, there was something different about the team that showed up Saturday night in Chicago to the teams of the past seven years.
The offense looked more composed and put together a few solid drives. The defensive front terrorized Jay Cutler without Richard Seymour.
There will always be areas to work on, but the Raiders at least get to enjoy a 2-0 record until they square off against the 49ers at the coliseum on Saturday.
The record at very least builds a young team’s confidence. The Raiders will need it to put stuff Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson during back-to-back weeks to start the season.
The revamped run defense will be put to the test. Vince Young and Sam Bradford probably aren’t going to throw the ball all over the field, but against the scrambling Young, gap assignments will be key.
In Saturday’s win, Matt Forte had a 89-yard rush for a touchdown. Confusion before the snap on gap assignments could be blamed, along with rookie Rolando McClain over-running the play, Wimbley getting turned inside by the right tackle and Huff whiffing on a difficult open-field tackle 20 yards down field.
1) McClain had a rough game, but he rarely makes the same mistake twice. When he hits and tackles, he packs a punch.
2)Receivers fixed an issue from the first preseason game in which they did not come back to the ball when it was in the air. Of course, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens were both on the sideline.
3) Kamerion Wimbley had three and a half sacks. Perhaps his best trait is rushing the passer and both Wimbley and Trevor Scott will be nickel edge rushers when they aren’t playing linebacker.
4) Desmond Bryant just keeps making plays on the defensive front. The tackle rotation could go four deep.
5) Jason Campbell made a poor decision to throw up a pass with a rusher in his face and it resulted in an interception. The man isn’t perfect, but it is easy to see how much his presence is going to improve the passing offense.
6) Michael Bush might be the Raiders feature back. That isn’t to say Darren McFadden will not get plenty of snaps, but the Raiders can no longer ignore what Bush has done when given the opportunity.
7) Jeremy Ware appeared to make a coverage blunder that resulted in a Cutler to Johnny Knox touchdown. The Raiders weren’t able to apply much pressure rushing four and Cutler bought extra time. It is hard to cover that long and based on Ware’s positioning, he thought he was getting help over the top.
8) Walter McFadden has good instincts in coverage, but he hasn’t been good on special teams and isn’t very physical. He will likely find himself as the fourth corner this season.
9) Stevie Brown keeps making plays, but hasn’t yet been promoted from playing with the scrubs. Is Hiram Eugene good enough to block him?
10) Jared Veldheer was rotating with Mario Henderson every other series at left tackle with the first team offense. Both were trading blows with Julius Peppers. Veldheer was beat a few times by Peppers, but also pancaked Peppers more than Henderson.
11) With Samson Satele injured, the Raiders brought in Chris Morris as the backup center and not Veldeer.
12) Tom Cable was smart to keep his best players out of the game. Not much reason to risk the health of Nnamdi Asomugha or Seymour. Chris Johnson, McFadden, Heyward-Bey, and Schilens probably could have all played, but were scratched. The Raiders have remained relatively healthy, in-part due to the conservative nature of Cable.