Aspuria’s Assertions: Is the Raiders backup QB depth FUBAR?

Oh, the riveting rumination that goes through one’s mind watching uninteresting and downright comical Oakland Raiders quarterback play.

Aspuria’s Assertions: Is the Raiders backup QB depth FUBAR?

It appears neither Connor Cook or EJ Manuel really want the primary backup gig to Derek Carr. Two sequences against the Los Angeles Rams this past Saturday brought upon the most vivid imagination (hallucination maybe more apt) in my mind:


  1. Manuel’s bizarre fumble sequence.
  2. Cook’s forward pass fumble.


The first was a sight to behold. Manuel had no time as he immediately had to escape a collapsing pocket, but shortly after he made a break for it, he coughed up the pigskin. He gave chase and was about to pick up the ball only to realize: “Wait, Connor promised me his entire salary this season if I scuttle my quest to be DC’s backup.” and thus, he kicked the ball right to a Rams defender.

The second leaves you equally as flummoxed. As Cook cocked back to fire the ball, it appears he tries to pull up at the last second and the ball wiggles free of his fingers as his arm moves forward. It hits the turf and the Rams alertly pounce on the ball. Perhaps Cook wanted to deliver another nostalgic moment for his head coach Jon Gruden (The Tuck Rule!).

Either way, you’re left contemplating is the Raiders backup quarterback situation FUBAR.

Ask me this immediately after Saturday’s preseason tilt and I would have said yes. But upon further review … a resounding no.

The SNAFU’s at QB were a direct result of the Raiders and Rams going head-to-head in Week 1 of the regular season. Gruden and the Raiders took the minimalist approach when it came to the offense and it showed immensely.

“We didn’t want to play our starters, we didn’t want them to hear our audibles or hand signals,” Jon Gruden said after the game. “I don’t think they wanted us to get a feel for them either. … It was a strange ballgame in that regard.”

So what exactly did that preseason week 2 snoozefest show us? What the offense would look like if Jack Del Rio, Todd Downing and the rest of the previous coaching staff were at the helm. No adjustments, no audibles, no creativity and no sense of direction. That was rudimentary to the core and that was a Downing special last season.

Still, while play-calling was straight vanilla, execution (or lack thereof) was a big culprit in the Raiders decrepit offense.

“You have two holding calls one on first and 10, one on second and 1 … it’s ridiculous,” Gruden said. “We don’t pass-protect in the two-minute drill, and our quarterbacks put the ball on the ground with carelessness.
“It wasn’t good enough and it was flat-out embarrassing, honestly.”

The Cook-Manuel battle will continue with two preseason games on tap, but we might not see much of them until the prep finale. Week 3 is a great litmus test against the Green Bay Packers and that’s usually the preseason tilt starters see the most time.

That probably means we see the backup QB battle in its earnest in the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks.

Another former Spartan opening eyes?

Turns out Connor Cook isn’t the only former Michigan State standout changing people’s perception. Shilique Calhoun came on strong against the Rams exhibiting speed and power the Raiders haven’t seen since watching his college tape.

His game-ending facemask penalty notwithstanding, the third-year man showed pass-rushing chops and backfield tackling ability that will not only impress the Raiders coaching staff, but other teams if he is waxed from Oakland’s 53-man roster.

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