By Steve Corkran
Friday, August 12th, 2011 at 7:34 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Sure, coach Hue Jackson wants the Raiders to win every game, whether it’s a scrimmage, exhibition or regular-season game. So, naturally he was disappointed by the fact his team lost to the Arizona Cardinals 24-18 at the Coliseum on Thursday night.
As every good coach does, Jackson watched back the game on tape, jotted down the positives, noted the negatives and put a spin on the previous day’s goings on.
Jackson started with the positives, so we’ll do likewise.
Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards were sacked only twice. They also attempted 36 passes without an intercption.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski converted all four of his field-goal attempts, including a 57-yarder off dirt that turned a two-point deficit into an 18-17 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders offense held the ball for 31-plus minuted and did so without a turnover and only one instance of punting away the ball without netting at least one first down.
More than a dozen offensive linemen received a fair share of work, with Stefen Wisniewski and Stephon Heyer seeing action at more than one position. Through it all, the quarterbacks operated without getting whacked and had ample time to scour the landscape for an open receiver.
“When I go back and I watch the tape, I really thought that Sammy Satele played good, I thought (Stefen) Wisniewski did an excellent job, I mean, unbelievable job. I thought that Stephon Heyer did some really good things. I thought that even Joe Barksdale was in there battling.”
Jackson later made a point of praising the performance of left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer.
On the downside, Jackson said, there were too many penalties committed, too few drives that resulted in touchdowns and way too many big plays allowed in the passing game.
“I want to chalk it up to two weeks in training camp, first-game jitters, out with the old, in with the new, more emphasis on snap count and all the things we’ve tried to address,” Jackson said of the Raiders committing 10 penalties for 84 yards. “That’s what I want to say when this happens, that’s what I want to say it was about.”
He will take in stride the penalties from Thursday night’s game, he said, but there’s no excuse for the penalties to be a lingering issue.
“If it continues to exist, then, yeah, we have to turn the page and try something different,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to just sit there and keep letting it happen.”
*Thursday’s game served as a reminder to players that it’s imperative the players get in their work, learn as much as possible in practice, meetings and watching film, so that they can carry over everything into a game, Jackson said.
In the end, the players are going to be judged by what they do in the four exhibition games more so than what they do in practice when it comes to settling upon the 53 players who make the opening-day roster and which players get the most playing time.
“As I keep talking about performance, it’s the performance in games (that counts most),” Jackson said. “Napa’s beautiful, very comfortable, a very great place to train and prepare a football team. But, when it’s all said and done, you got to go do it on game day. When the lights are on and when you’re playing against an opponent, it’s all about performance. That light is on now. Our guys understand that. These young guys will come back and fight this week.”
*Jackson said he is confident that his young defensive backs will overcome their sloppy play against the Cardinals. Four Cardinals quarterbacks carved up the Raiders secondary for 297 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 126.7.
“I think so because, again, you get back into the groove of practicing, you get back into the groove of competing, understanding the (tendencies) of people you’re playing,” Jackson said. “As you know, last night we didn’t do anything to say, let’s go take some receiver away, to assist or to help. Sometimes you got to put them out there and let them fail a little bit so you can find out about them. Our guys will rise up to the challenge this week.”
*The Cardinals game presened a lot of different situations for the Raiders to handle, things that are going to come up time and again during the season. Jackson sees that as invaluable.
“The thing I liked about last night is there is so many different situational football things that we got to practice,” Jackson said.
We got to practice coming out. I got to practice making a decision, exactly where that ball was, as you’re talking about, at the 3-yard line.
“We got to work on scoring zone, which we weren’t very good at last night. We got to work at a two-minute situation. We got to work at the last three, four plays of a game. There was so many things that are on this tape to grow from and get better at that we would have already done way back in OTAs and mini-camp.”
Jackson also got a chance to see what it’s like juggling a slew of responsibilities during a game for the first time.
“I have very good coaches who give me information,” Jackson said. “Obviously, I threw the (red challenge) flag last night. It was awesome. The officials were great other than a couple of situations. For the first night, I felt it was a great night for everyone involved.
“Obviously, we wanted to win the game. We didn’t do the ultimate, which was win the game. But for the first time for all of us to have an opportunity to go play a game, be in the stadium, be on the head set, coach a game, talk to each other, get our players out there playing against a different opponent. I thought it was a good start. That’s all it was, was a start. By no imagination is that who we are or what we’re going to be. Like I tell everyone, we’re going to become something. I really like what we’re going to become.
*Jackson was pleased by the play of Campbell, Edwards and Boller. In time, he intends to give Boller and Edwards more playing time as a means of gauging which is better suited to being the primary backup to Campbell at quarterback.
“We’ll see as we go,” Jackson said. “Obviously, as we get closer, we get ready to play a game, I have to make sure our first group is ready to go. There’s no doubt. I also have to know what our backup quarterback can do. We have two very good candidates back there that we can pick from.”
*Rookie safety Zac Etheridge suffered a knee injury against the Cardinals, Jackson said. Again, not much information was provided in terms of the severity of the injury and how long the recovery time is expected to be.