Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meaningless Observations

For some reason I watched the majority of last night's game. Maybe it was the drama of a few guys battling to make the team. Maybe it was the comedy value of guys fresh off the streets trying to slow down Mike Holmgren's backup offense. Maybe I needed something to look at while having a beer on the couch.

There was a lot of bad, starting with the HD Channel 2 production. Wow. Everything from audio to replays to sideline/booth communications was off. They couldn't even figure out how to cut to commercials. The play of the defense was mostly worse. Jon Alston and Chris Johnson might even make the team. Michael Waddell and Marviel Underwood were comically bad. And I'm afraid Fresno State's Sam Williams is going to lose his scholarship. He often turned up in the right place, but his tackling was atrocious, particularly for a guy who was in the conversation for a starting spot when camp began.

On offense, Super Mario continues to struggle, being burned in highly visible fashion to allow a sack and lost fumble on poor old Andrew Walter. And you had to feel sorry for Arman Shields, a fourth rounder this year who has missed most of training camp while on the trainer's table, endured Kiffin's public complaints and doubts, and then stepped into this game and dropped passes and ran the wrong routes. A classic preseason moment was James Lofton and Greg Knapp taking turns ripping Shields on the sideline after a blown route. Poor guy. At least he had one fairly spectacular sideline catch. His celebration let out a lot of pent up frustration.

But there was good, and it has to start with McFadden who averaged a healthy 12.5 yards per carry on 4 runs, two of which have me fired up to watch him against the Broncos' sorry run defense. The new fullback Lawton looked impressive catching balls out of the backfield. I recall reading some comment on the Lawton acquisition complaining that the Raiders are giving up on the passing game entirely. Obviously the commentator doesn't know the Raiders or Lawton very well.

What else? Chaz Schilens looked pretty good as a receiver. Todd Watkins was good and bad - he was getting open, at least. Michael Bush looked solid, and even Johnnie Lee Higgins busted a good kickoff return.

So the takeaway from the game is that the Raiders aren't deep, but we do have some bright spots. I had to laugh when Mark Ibanez came on and said if everyone has a little Raider in them, then everyone should be very concerned after this game. But besides depth, how does sitting all 22 starters have anything to do with what we'll see in the regular season?

I guess everyone has a right to project 3 wins after what we've seen the last 5 seasons. The good news is we get to start watching real games next week.

No comments: