The 2022 preseason kicked off with the Hall of Fame game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars. There were multiple things to be pleased with in the 27-11 victory, but three stuck out.
The Raiders run game
One of the most impressive components of the win was the run game. As a team, the Raiders rushed for three rushing touchdowns. The offensive line “1’s and 2’s” did a phenomenal job of opening holes for Josh Jacobs and Zamir White. White was the leading rusher with 52 yards on 11 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Austin Walter continued his dominance on the ground in the second half. Both Jacobs and Walker averaged over six yards per carry.
When the run game is going, it makes it easier for the offense to concentrate and get into a rhythm. One that has been interrupted by whistles and flags.
No mental mistakes
Running laps in the heat after committing stupid penalties has paid dividends towards eliminating pre-snap penalties and mental mistakes. Far too often, the Raiders shot themselves in the foot. Over the course of the offseason, we have repeatedly heard reports about preaching accountability.
Of the six penalties committed by the Raiders, there was an illegal formation but not a false start. On defense, there were no free plays from an offside defender. As little as that may seem, the Raiders have been a losing team for a long time because they beat themselves. In solving that issue, they can focus on more pressing ones.
The Achilles heel of the Raiders’ defense in 2021 was its run defense. In its first preseason game of 2022, the defense held six different rushers to 59 yards on 16 carries. The Jaguars may not have been using their best running backs, but the Raiders were without their starting defensive interior players as well. Making offenses one-dimensional and having to attack the most talented portion of your team is a win.
Raiders vs. Jaguars: Game Balls
It’s important to remember that it’s only the first game of the preseason. Of equal importance is to realize that dominating the preseason doesn’t count and is meaningless. Nevertheless, game balls are in order.
Zamir White, Jarrett Stidham, and Lester Cotton Sr. are the recipients of tonight’s game balls. White was the leading rusher, Stidham was the leading passer, and Cotton was instrumental in the run game and pass protection.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports