Aug 15, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew (21) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
It’s game day, and all eyes will be on the Oakland Raiders as they make their way into Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. The focus by the offense will be to move the football down the field and take advantage of scoring opportunities. The defense will be focused on stopping one of the best QB’s to play the game, Aaron Rodgers.
Matt Schaub will have to show us why the Raiders want him in the pocket. He can do that by moving the ball through precision passes, play fakes, audibles, and displaying the confidence of an NFL QB. Leading the team down the field and placing them in scoring range is a definite way to gain his own confidence as well as his players and fans confidence in him. This is what I hope to see out of the veteran.
Can this offensive line keep Schaub on his feet against a heavy dose of Green Bay pass rush? This is a battle that needs to be won by the Raiders line. Along with keeping the pocket safe, the O-line must push the defense backward on running plays. Given just enough space, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden can slip through the initial onslaught to gain the tough yards. Let’s face it, keeping this defense honest is a must for the passing game to be effective.
Will the WR’s and TE’s finally catch and secure the football? This is an area that should have never been a problem, but it’s been a problematic area nonetheless. Position battles are in full effect among WR’s and TE’s, and the roster will be cut down to 75 after tonight’s game. It’s time for the cream to rise to the top. Look for the Rookie TE’s Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson to try and fill the void left by injuries and lack of ability. Then there’s the WR’s. Andre Holmes, Brice Butler (if he’s not out due to concussion), Greg Jenkins, Greg Little, Mike Davis, and Juron Criner are all fighting for a spot. They need to make themselves relevant tonight.
Defensively, I want to see CB Tarell Brown act like he wants to play football. He needs to show us how good he is. These last couple of games he’s been flat, off-balance, out of whack, or however you want to describe him. He’s only on a one year deal, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep if he gets cut. Still, I’m hopeful that he can step it up, but he’s beginning to remind me of another #23 in Washington, DeAngelo Hall.
With the injuries and lack of play occurring in the secondary, it’s time to give the young pups a shot. T.J. Carrie and Keith McGill should see some playing time with the first team defense tonight. Along with them, I hope that Chimdi Chekwa can return. Chekwa has proven to be one of those players that really wants to be out there. His coverage skills have been excellent over the past month, and it’s his time to shine. Neiko Thorpe is returning from his injury, and he has a shot at this roster. Look to see some separation in this group.
Khalil Mack has improved steadily over the past few weeks. Remember folks, he’s a Rookie still. There will be mistakes made by him, but he’s got a great supporting cast around him. The combination of Khalil Mack and Sio Moore back there with Nick Roach is going to be a special one. Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley have both taken Mack under their wings, and Mack’s confidence will keep building and building the more he sees playing time. A sack on Aaron Rodgers would definitely be a confidence booster.
I know that I’m forgetting to mention other players and things that need balance and help, but I’m looking forward to the game tonight. It’s going to be a tell-tale sign of things to come in September. Will this team be tough or will they just lay down?
I’m hoping for the toughness they displayed against the Dallas Cowboys. I want to see the first string defense play like the third string defense played against the Detroit Lions. I want to see this team act hungry and blood thirsty. Bring the “A” game and shut this Green Bay team down. Score some points and keep them out of the end zone. Act like an NFL team! Go Raiders!