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AP Photo/David Demer
The first NFL preseason game is over. After an offseason full of deals and dramatic twists, it feels great to consume fresh football. On Thursday, the Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11 in the 2022 NFL Hall of Fame game.
The biggest names on each team played in this game to avoid injury. We’ll continue to see if the Jaguars’ building blocks Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Christian Kirk develop chemistry. We also missed the chance to see a reconnection between Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams.
That doesn’t mean we don’t know a thing or two about the Raiders and Jaguars. We uncovered five key takeaways from the Hall of Fame game.
With both teams adding new coaching staff for their first games of the season, every bit of information on how the season unfolds is helpful. Let’s jump into our main takeaway.
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AP Photo/David Demer
He only played the first two drives of the game, but the No. 1 overall pick Traven Walker made his presence felt. Walker bullied Raiders backup left tackle Brandon Parker in his snap, recording his first sack and putting pressure on Jarrett Stidham multiple times. After getting into the pocket through Parker’s chest, he was called for a controversial rough-and-tumble on the passer in his first game.
The Jaguars know they’re getting an athletic passer who can win with great power when they draft him. However, given that Walker’s primary mission is to stop Georgia’s run, expect it to take time for Walker to figure out the nuances of his hand usage and role. Against the Raiders, Walker showed that his developmental curve may not be that big.
The Jaguars also saw strong performances from Arden Key and K’Lavon Chaisson while star rusher Josh Allen didn’t play. A rotation of four athletic guards can quickly change the identity of this defense. If Game 1 is any indication of what’s to come, Walker will be a big part of that effort.
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While most of the starters played in the game, the Raiders opted to have all of their running backs on the field despite the damp field. That includes the top two guards on their depth chart: Josh Jacobs and Kenya Drake. That might not be bad news for their roster status, but it certainly isn’t good news for their characters.
Despite proving talent in his fourth season, Jacobs had five carries and two catches for 44 yards. He is also in contract year. Because of the risk of injury, most starting linebackers don’t play in the preseason until Game 3, if at all.
Drake is also in a contract year and has played enough snaps to make you scratch your head about his future. Before leaving the field, he performed 5 carries for 9 yards with a visibly injured hand. He came back late in the game. With Brandon Bolden also on the roster as a good passer, Drake’s role could be in jeopardy.
Head coach Josh McDaniels has shown he’s not afraid to lose his top two guards.
Subs Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah looked great. White had 52 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards. Abdullah only ran for 7 yards on two attempts, but ran for 23 yards on two catches.
This could be a situation to watch as the final layoff day comes before the regular season begins.
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AP Photo/David Demer
The first half of Jacksonville’s offense was eerily reminiscent of what the team looked like last year under Urban Meyer. Of course, most of the Jaguars’ starters sit in their starting positions to avoid injury. But the lack of rhythm and fluidity remains surprising in a team led by veteran head coach Doug Pederson.
The Jaguars entered the game with just two fully padded practices. That must be a factor to some extent. However, their decision to opt for substitutes Jack Luton and Kyle Slotter should also be questioned given their poor level of play throughout the night.
Nor is primary backup CJ Beathard the answer to staying competitive in the game if Lawrence goes down. If Lawrence was seriously injured, the Jaguars didn’t show anything in the Hall of Fame game that would lead us to believe they’d have a chance to play every week.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that spent $175.3 million in guarantees this offseason. Pederson had to convey the importance of this young team full of new recruits ahead of the regular season. If he doesn’t, the Jaguars could have a rough start to the year until they get a foothold.
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Having a good backup quarterback can be the difference between winning a game and making or missing the playoffs. The Raiders traded a sixth-round pick to Jarrett Stidham shortly after McDaniels took over as head coach. The two have 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 chances. He continued to build positive momentum in the game, completing 8 of 15 passes for 96 yards. He also ran for a 12-yard touchdown.
Nick Mullins played well behind Stidham with a higher completion rate. But Stidham also lost a potential deep touchdown when receiver Tyron Johnson dropped a perfect ball that fell into his hands.
After this performance, if Derek Carr has to leave the game early or miss a week for any reason, the Raiders can be more confident of winning a game.
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AP Photo/Alan Schmidt
After taking advantage of the offseason to bring in stars like Davant Adams and Chandler Jones, the Raiders’ depth at several positions remains questionable. Who their second wide receiver besides Adams is is a question. Their cornerback space lacks a clear rotation.
We were able to see the receivers and corner positions both play well against the Jaguars. The receivers expected to compete for the No. 2 perimeter position are Kieran Cole, Mike Hollins, Tyron Johnson and DeMarcus Robinson. Hollins, Johnson and Kerr started, and Robinson entered the second half. Johnson’s standout performance is due to his speed and ability to drive the ball. He was one step away from a perfect performance.
Cole left the game after being hit in the head in one round. Still, after seeing Cole (1 catch, 31 yards) and Johnson (2 catches, 39 yards) play well, the Raiders should feel better about their ability to supplement the pass.
The cornerback who made the most of his opportunity was veteran Darius Phillips. Phillips made four tackles and showed great discipline and tenacity on the run. He also forced a turnover that led to a change in possession. These are the timely plays the Raiders defense needs to survive in the tough AFC West.