Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals: 3 takeaways

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Running back David Johnson
GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Running back David Johnson /

The Oakland Raiders fall to the Arizona Cardinals in their first preseason game of 2017, 20-10. Here are three big takeaways from the game for the Raiders.

For a team wanting to get back into the AFC Playoffs, this was not the start to the preseason the Oakland Raiders wanted at all. They were largely steamrolled in the first half by the Arizona Cardinals, being down 17-3 heading into halftime. The Raiders would somewhat make it a game in the second half, but it was all Cardinals, as Arizona won the preseason game, 20-10.

Obviously, Oakland has some work to do, particularly on defense. Then again, so many of the Raiders’ marquee players didn’t even play in this game. This was Arizona’s second preseason game, as the Cardinals took on the Dallas Cowboys in Canton at the Hall of Fame Game last week.

Raider Nation just has to turn the page on this one. Here are three big takeaways from this first preseason game for the Silver and Black.


The secondary was shredded by Byron Leftwich‘s sound play calling. For as much as the Raiders secondary has been dissected in the last year plus, this wasn’t a good night for the defensive backfield in the slightest. Newly appointed Cardinals quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich was able to scheme an excellent offensive game with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton on under center.

The Cardinals’ long-time passers were able to pick apart Ken Norton Jr.’s defense effortlessly. Miscommunication was rampant in the back-end of the Raiders defense. Cornerback Sean Smith had an awful night with a couple of penalties and getting burnt like toast on a few occasions. Are we sure he makes the team out of camp?

Second-year safety Karl Joseph may have laid the hammer on Cardinals star running back David Johnson on the first series, but botched his assignment in the red zone to allow Stanton to find tight end Troy Niklas for six. The secondary played better when Blaine Gabbert was quarterbacking the Cardinals, but that had more to do with the pass rush being so dominant in the second half. In short, the Raiders need major work in the secondary.

EJ Manuel wasn’t bad, but Connor Cook was better in Todd Downing’s offense. Shortly before kickoff, it was announced that Derek Carr was not going to play for the Raiders. This is no shocker at all. We were in for a night of E.J. Manuel in the first half and Connor Cook in the second half.

While Manuel was the more accurate of the two passers, Cook had a better grasp of Todd Downing’s offense. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Cook had spent a year in Downing’s quarterback room as a rookie in 2016. Manuel had to deal with the Buffalo Bills clown show led by the Ryan Brothers circus in Orchard Park.

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Manuel threw a more catchable ball than Cook. He even had a few with really nice touch of them. However, he had no feel whatsoever in the ground game.

Manuel struggled to set up the necessary protections to keep the Cardinals defensive front out of the Raiders backfield.

Cook use the running game to his advantage. His use of play action and ability to execute a few end-arounds at a high level led to a decent first preseason game for the second-year pro out of Michigan State.

The young kids can provide the pass rush against a bad offensive line.

In the first half, the linebackers had to do the dirty work and then some. Oakland struggled to get much of a pass rush with either Palmer or Stanton under center. It only made things worse by the terrible play of the first-team secondary.

However, it became clear that the second-team front-seven already had some continuity early in camp. Rookie linebacker LaTroy Lewis was able to wreak havoc on Gabbert in the Cardinals backfield. While he has his limitations as a passer, Gabbert has a nice pair of wheels for a quarterback. Lewis and Treyvon Hester were the two that really made it hard for him in the second half to move the sticks.

Next: Raiders fall to Cardinals, 20-10: Highlights, score recap

Going into this game, it wasn’t surprising to see the Cardinals flex their muscles at home in their second preseason game. This was the Raiders’ first preseason game. A bunch of the team’s best players didn’t play at all. You do have to like the second-half effort from this team because it was largely embarrassing in the first half. Maybe the Raiders put together a better all-around effort next week at home against the Los Angeles Rams?