On Saturday night, the Oakland Raiders venture to the desert and face the Arizona Cardinals. Many analysts see the Cardinals as a darkhorse candidate to surprise the NFC. Head Coach Bruce Arians leads a potent offense mixed with an opportunistic defense. In this preseason matchup, the two teams want to see what the roster looks like against live competition.
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What to Expect:
If you tune in to watch Derek Carr throw the ball often, think again. Although his broken leg healed, no valid reason exist for him to step foot on to the field. With that said, look for Connor Cook and EJ Manuel to split snaps. With the battle for the backup spot closer than expected, every snap counts. Cook looks to capitalize on his limited 2016 run. On the other hand, the veteran Manuel looks to unseat Cook.
Granted, the passing stats will not count. Yet, the coaches will take note of three aspects:
While textbook form does determine success, coaches look at how passers repeat their throws. In other words, can a quarterback maintain similar throwing motions through the game? For Manuel, that could be an area of observation. More importantly, how Manual uses his feet while dropping back is important. Often, Manuel will abandon his feet and launch a pass that sails. When you don’t have feet underneath, the ball sails out of the hands.
Again, Manuel is the veteran that most expect to dominate this area. Be that as it may, Manuel lacks the feel for the rush and will slide from phantom defensive pressure. Certainly, Cook fits the classic dropback passer, and he’s finding his way.
In 2016, no one envisioned Derek Carr crumpling to the turf on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, Matt McGloin and Connor found themselves taking playoff drive snaps. Before McGloin fell to injury, he looked determined to lead the Raiders. Meanwhile Coonor Cook bided his time. The Cardinals game will separate the prepared from the unprepared.
Outside of Mack and Irvin, the Raiders pass rush struggle for any consistency. Under those circumstances, teams would double Mack and Irvin. Sooner or later, a defensive tackle must step up and play with reckless abandon. Any internal pressure frees up the outside. Latham and Vanderdoes must get up field versus a weaker Cards line.
Given these points, Raiders fans need to watch ignore the final score. In preseason doesn’t bring important score. In addition, the only number to care about is zero. Teams need to realize that healthy supersedes false glory.