OAKLAND – The Raiders weren’t perfect during Friday night’s 18-3 preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams. Not even close.
They were pretty darn good, and accomplished several goals set earlier this week. The Raiders wanted to play clean football, to avoid mental mistakes and careless penalties that can lose football games.
They wanted come out of the game without major injuries.
Consider those missions accomplished.
The wanted each unit to have success, and find coachable moments in mistakes.
“As coaches, there’s so much we’re going to go back and agonize over,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “How are we going to make this better? It was an excellent night. It was a clean night. We came out relatively healthy and got some good work so all and all I was pleased with the effort.”
There were many good moments, provided by Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, Khalil Mack, Ben Heeney, Latavius Murray and, did anybody else see that cage-rattling sack by Josh Shirley?
There were issues, though they were harder than usual to find. There was a miscommunication between quarterbacks – and the defense allowed some big plays to St. Louis’ starting offense.
“I thought they were a little excited to get going,” Del Rio said. “We had some guys that were over-running some things there early. They kind of settled down and played a lot better as the game went on. I really thought in the trenches, I thought offensively and defensively the line play was really good.”
Del Rio will certainly nitpick over the weekend and have corrections aplenty when the Raiders return to training camp practice on Sunday in Napa. Overall, his Raiders were good, well disciplined.
“We’re heading the right way,” Carr said. “Is there’s stuff to clean up, just like every game? Yes. But I’d say we’re heading in the right direction. All the hard work is paying off, but we have to continue to grind and we can’t just think one preseason game means everything. It’s a good start but we have a long way to go.”
The Raiders have had good practices and bad in the early going, which is common during training camp on a team with new schemes and so many new players. The Raiders want to continue playing clean and improve execution as the preseason wears on and the first units play longer stretches. The emotion and energy was palpable, and the efficiency was strong and the execution was mostly good on this night.
“We’re looking to even out our performances,” Del Rio said. “We’re looking to sustain a high level of performance. It was good to see some of those strengths because that’s what we’re for. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs throughout the camp and we’re trying to flatten that out and be able to sustain really good football.”