You wouldn't have guessed it based on the halftime score of 14-13, but the Oakland Raiders dominated the Chicago Bears on Saturday night, winning their second preseason contest by a final count of 32-17.
The Raiders got off to a great start on their opening drive, as Jason Campbell led the offense on a scoring drive. Campbell looked stellar to begin the game, going 5-for-5 on his pass attempts for 89 yards. Campbell capped off the drive with a quarterback keeper on the goal line for the touchdown.
Even though it was only the second game of the preseason, you have to like what you saw out of the offense on that first drive. Campbell, as he did for most of the night, displayed great mobility in the pocket, and given the uncertainty of the offensive line's play from week to week, Campbell's ability to move will be a huge asset.
Thereafter, Campbell played at a more human level and finished with 170 yards passing on 10-for-20 passing. He had 14 yards on 4 rushing attempts and threw an interception as well.
The interception was simply a result of the offensive line being overwhelmed by the Bears' pass rush. Campbell had Zach Miller wide open to his right, but he was hit as he released the ball, putting the ball off target and into the hands of Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.
In addition to moving the pocket, another thing you might see this offseason will be more of the screen pass. The Raiders have often used the screen pass, but without much success. In the first two preseason games, however, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has the offense running the play to near perfection.
Against the Cowboys, Michael Bennett and Rock Cartwright provided big yards with the screen, and it was much of the same against the Bears. On the first offensive drive, Michael Bush got great blocking by his linemen and ran for 24 yards. Later on in the first, Campbell hit fullback Marcel Reece for a 40-yard gain.
Give a lot of credit to Hue Jackson. Not only does he have the offense running the screen so well, but also he's done a great job choosing when to run it. Whenever the Raiders have needed big yards, the screen has been there, and the screen has also done a great job at taking advantage of over aggressive defenses.
Defensively, the Raiders continued their stellar play from the Dallas game. Save for Matt Forte big run, the Raiders did an excellent job in pressuring the pass and not allowing the running game to pick up speed.
Forte's touchdown run is inexcusable, but if anything, as it directly followed Campbell's interception, it might have been a momentary lack of focus that opened a hole for Forte. Michael Huff certainly got the worst of it after being turned around by Forte in the open field, but it was no thanks to the Raiders' linebackers over pursuing the play.
Second-year linebacker Slade Norris helped his chances to make the 53-man roster in the third quarter. When it comes to players on the "bubble," it's all about making big plays and showing some hustle. The saying goes that good luck is when opportunity and hard work meet, and that's what Slade Norris showcased on his fumble recovery for a touchdown. The same goes for seventh round rookie Stevie Brown, who had his second interception in the preseason.
Although the offensive line was improved from the Dallas game, they still continue to struggle with mental lapses, namely the pre-snap penalties. It's not easy to be hard on them when they helped the offense put up 32 points, but they won't be able to get away with the same mistakes in the regular season.
Of course, Kamerion Wimbley stole the show with his four sacks. Wimbley was dominant in the pass rush, blowing past the Bears' offensive line with relative ease. Wimbley was also effective in coverage going up against a very good tight end in Greg Olsen. Like Trevor Scott against the Cowboys, Wimbley was at his best when he was moved around. The Raiders have shown that they have a deep linebacking corps, and a versatile one at that. With Scott and Wimbley on the edges, both being able to play with their hands down, and McClain in the middle, the Raiders' starting unit will be one to watch out for. Add to that a solid and deep second unit, this might be the most improved unit on the team.
Next Saturday's game against the 49ers will be the best barometer of success. The Raiders had Sunday off and will be taking Monday off as well. At this point, the coaching staff has done a good job of keeping their big time players healthy, and giving their youngsters plenty of playing time to prove their worth.
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