Diving into who stood out and who struggled after Raiders’ first preseason game
It was an impressive showing for the Las Vegas Raiders in their first preseason game against the Settle Seahawks. The Raiders scored on their opening drive and led the rest of the way en route to a 20-7 victory.
The game never really felt like it was out of Las Vegas’ control, which is probably even more comforting to see than the final score this time of year. That’s what happens when several players are executing at a high-level play after play, making it easy to find players whose stock is “up” after Saturday.
However, there were still a handful of guys who could have played better, as is the case with every game, so we’ll dive into their performances as well. Although, I will say it was more difficult to find Raiders who are “down” than “up” this week.
Nathan Peterman: UP
To me, the biggest standout of the game for the Raiders was Nathan Peterman by far. With Marcus Mariota getting banged up late last week, Peterman received a great opportunity to show how much he’s grown over the last few years. And that’s exactly what he did on Saturday.
Peterman started the game off with an absolute dime down the sideline for about a 30 yard gain to Zay Jones on the team’s opening drive (see video below). The rest of the way, the signal caller looked sharp, dropping a few other beautiful throws down the field, throwing with great anticipation, taking command pre-snap at the line of scrimmage and so on.
He finished the game with 29 completions on 39 attempts and 246 yards, and the Raiders receivers had three drops, per Pro Football Focus, so those figures easily could have been higher. Also, Peterman’s lone blemish on the boxscore was a second-quarter interception where he was hit while throwing, to make it four out of ten incompletions that weren’t his fault.
The five-year pro also showed some ability to pull the ball down and run, tacking on 32 rushing yards and two first downs on the ground. Obviously, he made the most of his opportunity.
#Raiders use Double Fade from 11-personnel. Great way to attack MOFC. Zay Jones sells an inside release to create some extra room on the side line. Great job my Nathan Peterman to drop this pass outside the redline so the MOF safety couldn’t make a play on the ball. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/BJ65hxdsSe
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) August 15, 2021
Patrick Omameh: DOWN
At the start of training camp, offensive coordinator Greg Olson spoke about the “great competition” at every position along the offensive line and specifically mentioned Patrick Omameh. Well, the coach might be singing a different tune after the first preseason game.
Omameh took snaps at both left and right tackle and struggled mightily in pass protection. With three pressures on just 13 true pass sets, he earned a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 88.5 and 41.5 PFF pass-blocking grade. It looked like his feet were stuck in cement when trying to hold down the edge in pass protection.
Of course, Kolton Miller and Alex Leatherwood are the team’s starting tackles so, in an ideal world, Omameh won’t see much, if any, playing time when the games count. However, if either of those starters goes down, things could get dicey if the veteran backup doesn’t turn it around.
Zay Jones: UP
Over the last few years, Zay Jones has received quite a bit of scrutiny from Raider Nation, myself included. The organization gave up a fifth-round pick for a receiver that had plenty of potential and seemingly just needed a bigger opportunity. However, he continued to struggle to earn playing time and hasn’t been productive with the Silver and Black.
This Saturday was a different story, though as that potential finally started to shine through. Jones only ran seven routes but was targeted three times and caught all three passes for 57 yards. Two of those three receptions were contested catches as well, and he earned the sixth-highest PFF grade among all wide receivers this week. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even play in the second quarter.
Jones is competing with several other wideouts for the last roster spot in the position group, and he certainly gained the upper hand against his competition this weekend.
Jaryd Jones-Smith: DOWN
Unfortunately, both of Las Vegas’ backup offensive tackles land on the “down” list. Much like Omameh, Jary Jones-Smith looked slow and struggled to hold down the edge.
PFF credited Jones-Smith with two sacks, one quarterback hurry and one of the lowest pass blocking grades (35.8) among tackles with at least 13 snaps this weekend. Ironically, all three of the pressures he allowed came outside of true pass sets, so he struggled even when the play call was designed to give him help.
Now, there is some optimism in regards to Jones-Smith. He was effective in the run game and, as hinted at above, he held up in pass protection on true pass sets. But, to put it simply, the Raiders can’t rely on a backup offensive lineman who comes in and gives up two sacks, no matter how they come about.
Clelin Ferrell: UP
Clelin Ferrell might be facing the most pressure out of anyone on the Raiders’ roster this season. He enters a pivotal year three where the organization will have to decide to pick up his fifth-year option or not, and he’s already facing an uphill battle after being demoted to second string. However, the former top-five pick took a big step forward in the team’s first preseason game.
Ferrell’s performance was impressive not for his run defense, which was his strength in years one and two, but for his pass rush. The defensive end rushed the passer 12 times and racked up three pressures and a team-high 88.1 pass-rush grade. His pass-rush win rate (27.3 percent) ranked tied for 13th among edge rushers with at least eight pass rushes this weekend, and his grade ranked fourth.
Beyond the metrics, it felt like Ferrell was consistently collapsing the pocket on the few plays that he was out there. Of course, this came against Seattle’s backups and he still has a long way to go to prove he was worthy of his draft selection. But the Clemson product did exactly what he needed to do on Saturday and this performance was a step in the right direction.
Malcolm Koonce: DOWN
On paper, it looks like Malcolm Koonce had a pretty good showing. He registered two pressures and received a decent overall PFF Grade – 67.6. But to me, a lot of the concerns I had about him heading into the game showed up on tape.
One of the biggest factors in transitioning from the MAC to the NFL is the speed of the game. Adjusting to how much faster everyone moves is difficult for rookies that come from Power Five schools, so it can feel like people are moving at warp speed for guys coming from smaller conferences. And it seemed to me that Koonce was struggling with this on Saturday.
At Buffalo, the pass rusher showed an explosive get-off to beat offensive tackles around the edge, but he seemed a tick slow off the ball against Seattle. It looked like he was thinking a little too much and the game was moving a little too quickly for him.
While Koonce did record those two pressures, one of them came as an unblocked rusher and the other was more of a “clean-up” quarterback hurry, meaning he took a while to beat the offensive lineman and the stat actually speaks higher to coverage on that play. His sub-par pass-rush grade of 58.9 supports this as well since that takes into account how quickly a rusher defeats the offensive lineman.
Granted, it was Koonce’s first NFL game and he’s bound to have some struggles early on. The good news is he has two more preseason matchups to get his feet wet and hit the ground running come September.