Instant Replay: Raiders stagnant in loss to Vikings

Instant Replay: Raiders stagnant in loss to Vikings
August 8, 2014, 7:30 pm

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Five Raiders running backs combined for 4.8 yards per carry on Friday. (AP)

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Programming note: For complete postgame reaction from the Raiders-Vikings exhibition game, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.


MINNEAPOLIS -– Before we swill curdled milk that was the Raiders exhibition opener, let’s get some preseason clichés out of the way.

These games mean nothing. It was the first time for a revamped roster playing live football together. The starters played too small a sample size to accurately judge their progress. There’s a lot of time to get things right and play well when games actually count.

You’ll certainly hear some of that logic in postgame comments. In many respects, the reasoning is sound.

It doesn’t negate a simple fact: The Raiders played poorly in a 10-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in front of 51,752 at TCF Bank Stadium.

[RELATED: Raiders starters struggle in preseason opener]

At times they were average. At others, they were awful.

There were too many drops. Way, way, way too many penalties. Far too much soft coverage in the secondary.

The Raiders seemed to progress well through the early portions of training camp, but Friday’s loss proves they have significant work left to do.

That includes the basics.

While there were positive takeaways trapped in this mess, they were swallowed by an overall inability to produce offensively or keep an opponent from moving downfield.

The Raiders have three more games and nearly a month’s practice before things matter, when they must play far better than this.

Penalty killers: The Raiders had a poor relationship with the referees in the first half. They just kept getting in trouble. The offensive line and secondary in particular struggled to play clean, but the whole team was flagged six times for 44 yards in the opening quarters, which were manned by personnel expected to play in the regular season.

“We’ve got to clean up our play,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said in a halftime interview. “We had too many mistakes. The penalties are killing us right now, especially on third down. We had a couple of chances to get off the field and we had penalties on defense. Offensively, we started our first two drives of the game, on the first play we get a penalty and it puts us in a backed up situation. We’ve got to clean that up. We’ve got to clean the penalties up. I’ve seen some good things but the penalties are really hurting us right now.”

All told, the Raiders had 13 penalties for 94 yards over four quarters.

For starters: The starting offense and defense struggled mightily against the Vikings. While there were mistakes all around, penalties and drops were particularly painful. They negated some quality execution, which was generally lacking in the first place.

Tight end Mychal Rivera had two drops, right tackle Menelik Watson had a false start and allowed a sack and cornerback Tarell Brown was beaten twice and flagged for defensive holding.

[RELATED: Ten Raiders to watch in preseason opener]

The defense gave up a touchdown on its only complete drive –- it played part of another –- and the offense couldn’t score in three tries.

Darren McFadden had the best play of the first half, on a 23-yard run through a hole created by left tackle Donald Penn and guard Khalif Barnes. Maurice Jones-Drew looked good in limited touches as well.

Premium reserves: Despite being first on the Raiders depth chart, weakside linebacker Sio Moore played Friday’s game with the second unit. He played promotion worthy football in the second quarter, especially on a tackle for loss where he chased down rusher Jerick McKinnon from across the field.

Running back Latavius Murray had 41 yards of offense on nine touches and receiver Denarius Moore had three catches for 28 yards working with the second unit.

Miles Burris started the game at weakside linebacker and played middle linebacker with the second unit, faring well in both spots.

Third-string quarterback Matt McGloin orchestrated the Raiders touchdown drive, capped by a 10-yard run into the end zone. A two-point conversion was unsuccessful.

Rookie report: No. 5 overall pick Khalil Mack played the entire first half at strongside linebacker, and didn’t make any big time plays of note.

Seventh-round draft pick Shelby Harris continues to impress. The defensive end had had a strip sack of Bridgewater in the second quarter, though the Vikings recovered.

On the bubble: The Raiders didn’t get much better in the second half, when fringe players took center stage.

They still struggled to move the football. They had a field goal get blocked.

[RELATED: Jones-Drew, McFadden could be limited in preseason opener]

There were a few notable offenses: Tight end Jake Murphy dropped a perfect pass from third-stringer Matt McGloin. Brian Leonhardt, trying to earn playing time as a blocker, had a 15-yard facemask penalty that negated a solid run.

On a positive note, tight end Nick Kasa had a solid catch and run for a 14-yard gain. Outside linebacker Kaelin Burnett also had a sack in the fourth quarter.

Schaub’s first foray: Quarterback Matt Schaub had a forgettable first performance in silver and black. He was 3-for-7 for 21 yards and did not throw for a first down, but had a solid throws either dropped or negated by penalty.

Carr’s debut: Rookie Derek Carr’s first professional drive ended in an interception. He threw the ball a bit high, but fullback got two hands on the pass and let it slip past him and into Kurt Coleman’s arms.

It was an unwelcome end to a solid drive with conversions on two third downs and a fourth down.

Carr played throughout the third quarter, but could not score points. All told, he completed 10-of-16 passes for 74 yards and an interception.

Injury update: Defensive tackle Justin Ellis, the team’s fourth-round pick, left in the second quarter with an apparent head injury.

Sitting it out: Several Raiders didn’t suit up due to injury. CB Nieko Thorpe, CB Keith McGill, linebacker Kaluka Maiava, G Lamar Mady and TE David Ausberry were unavailable off the active roster. CB DJ Hayden, S Usama Young and G Lucas Nix remain on the physically unable to perform list.

What's next: The Raiders have a physically-demanding stretch ahead. They have two more practices in Napa before breaking camp for two joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys at their Oxnard facility. Then they have a day off before playing the preseason home opener against Detroit.