October 4, 2022

0 out of 5

    AP Photo/David Dermer

    The first NFL preseason game is over. After an offseason filled with trades and dramatic turnarounds, eating fresh football felt so good. The Las Vegas Raiders beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11 in the 2022 NFL Hall of Fame Game on Thursday.

    The biggest names of each team took part in this game to avoid injuries. We’ll continue to wait to see if Jaguars cornerstones Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Christian Kirk can develop chemistry. We also missed seeing the renewed connection between Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams.

    That’s not to say we didn’t learn something about both the Raiders and Jaguars. We found five staple meals from the Hall of Fame Game.

    With both teams entering new coaching staffs in their first competitive action of the season, any information on how this season could play out is helpful. Let’s jump into our top takeaways.

1 out of 5

    AP Photo/David Dermer

    He only played the first two drives of the game, but No. 1 pick Travon Walker made his presence felt. Walker bullied Raiders backup left tackle Brandon Parker throughout his snaps, recording his first sack and putting pressure on Jarrett Stidham several times. He was called for a questionable roughness on the passer on his first play after he powered past Parker’s chest to get into the pocket.

    The Jaguars knew they were getting an athletic passer who could win with exceptional power when they drafted him. However, Walker was expected to need time to understand his hand usage and the nuances of the role, given that he was primarily tasked with stopping the Georgia run. Against the Raiders, Walker showed that his growth curve might not be as steep.

    The Jaguars also saw solid performances from Arden Key and K’Lavon Chaisson, while star Josh Allen did not play. Rotating the four athletic linebackers could quickly change the identity of this defense. Walker will be a huge part of that effort if this first game was any indication of what’s to come.

2 out of 5

    Nick Cammett/Getty Images

    While most starters sat in this game for both teams, the Raiders elected to play all of their running backs despite the field being wet. That included the top two running backs on their depth chart: Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. It’s likely not bad news for their roster situation, but it’s certainly not good news that anyone is secure in their role.

    Jacobs was hauled in with five carries and two receptions for 44 total yards despite being a proven talent in his fourth season. He is also under contract. Most starting tailbacks don’t play in the preseason until the third game, if at all, because of the risk of injury.

    Drake is also in a contract year and played enough snaps to leave you scratching your head about his future. He caught five carries for nine yards before leaving the field with an apparent hand injury. He returned later in the game. With Brandon Bolden also on the roster as a co-pass rusher, Drake’s role could be in jeopardy.

    Coach Josh McDaniels showed he wasn’t afraid to lose his top two running backs.

    Substitutes Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah looked outstanding in their touches. White had 52 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards. Abdullah ran for just seven yards on two attempts, but had 23 yards on two catches.

    This could be a situation to watch as the final day of cuts before the start of the regular season arrives.

3 out of 5

    AP Photo/David Dermer

    The first half from Jacksonville’s offense was an eerie throwback to what the team looked like under Urban Meyer last year. Of course, the Jaguars sat the majority of their starters to avoid injuries. However, the unit’s lack of rhythm and flow on a team led by veteran coach Doug Pederson was surprising.

    The Jaguars had only two fully loaded practices coming into the game. That was certainly a factor to some degree. However, their decision to backup Jake Luton and Kyle Sloter on the roster should also be questioned as their level of play was abysmal throughout the night.

    Key backup CJ Beathard is also not the answer to being competitive in games if Lawrence goes down. If Lawrence suffers a major injury, the Jaguars didn’t show anything during the Hall of Fame Game to believe they’d have a chance to compete on a weekly basis.

    That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that spent $175.3 million in guarantees this offseason. Pederson needs to convey how important it is for this young team loaded with new pieces to be jealous of before the regular season. If he doesn’t, the Jaguars could have a rough start to the year until they find their footing.

4 out of 5

    Nick Cammett/Getty Images

    Having a quality backup quarterback can be the difference between winning one more game and making the playoffs or missing the postseason. The Raiders traded a sixth-round pick for Jarett Stidham shortly after McDaniels took over as head coach. The two had previously worked together in New England since Stidham was drafted in the fourth round in 2019.

    Stidham has shown some promise as a strong, athletic passer in his few opportunities. He continued to generate positive momentum in this game, completing eight of 15 passes for 96 yards. He also ran for a 12-yard touchdown.

    Nick Mullins played well behind Stidham and had a higher completion percentage. But Stidham also missed a potential deep touchdown when receiver Tyron Johnson threw a perfectly placed ball that landed in his hands.

    After this performance, the Raiders can be more confident that they can win a game if Derek Carr has to leave a contest early or miss a week for any reason.

5 out of 5

    AP Photo/Ellen Schmidt

    After using the offseason to add stars like Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, the Raiders’ depth at multiple positions was still questionable. Who would be their second outside receiver besides Adams was a concern. Their corner room had no apparent rotation.

    We were able to see both the receiver and cornerback positions perform well against the Jaguars. The receivers expected to compete for the No. 2 outside job are Keelan Cole, Mack Hollins, Tyron Johnson and Demarcus Robinson. Hollins, Johnson and Cole started while Robinson played in the second half. Johnson stood out more thanks to his deep speed and ability to get open. It was one drop away from a perfect appearance.

    Cole left the game after being hit in the head in one end. Still, the Raiders should feel better about their ability to complement their passing game after seeing Cole (1 catch, 31 yards) and Johnson (2 catches, 39 yards) play well.

    The corner who made the most of his opportunity was veteran Darius Phillips. With four tackles, Phillips showed great discipline and toughness in the run game. He also forced a fumble that led to a turnover. These are the timely plays this Raiders defense will need to survive in the tough AFC West.

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