The third preseason games are supposed to be the meaningful ones. They’re the games that feature the starters for around a half, usually, and give us the best indication of how the important part of a roster is taking shape. For one team, that meant good things last night, but for the other not so much, leading to the Raiders’ second-team coming in to provide the spark that had been missing from the firsts.
Terrelle Pryor made a case for a legitimate shot at the starting job that the Raiders have been expecting Matt Flynn to wrap up long before now. Let’s take a look at what else we saw.
Chicago – Three Performances of Note
Sometimes you can look at Alshon Jeffery and see another Brandon Marshall, and this game was one of those times. That is just as well because the Bears got one of those games from Marshall when his hands deserted him. Marshall was thrown at four times with the first unit and couldn’t come up with a catch, dropping two of them and having another ripped from his grasp by CB D.J. Hayden.
Jeffery picked up the slack however, catching seven of the eight passes sent his way, moving the chains in exactly the way they usually expect Marshall to. If the Bears can get both of their receivers firing at the same time, they become a very tricky passing attack to contain.
The LT Comparison
When the Bears signed Jermon Bushrod, PFF was less than excited. J’Marcus Webb had improved steadily (from truly ugly beginnings in the league) and had reached a level that may not have been much, if any, worse than Bushrod, for a fraction of the cost. This was not a game in which he backed that up however. Webb did keep a clean sheet in pass protection from 11 snaps, but on 17 running plays he managed to accumulate a -2.4 grade, piling more misery on his performance with a pair of penalties.
This is compared to Bushrod who also kept a clean sheet in pass protection (on 22 passing plays), and also run blocked well, ending the game with a +1.8 grade overall for his play. I think the Bears still overpaid to get Bushrod, but given how poorly Webb has performed this preseason, the upgrade may have been more significant than it could have been all the same.
Standout with the Twos
In most preseason games, there is somebody from the second or third team that stands up to be counted with an impressive performance, and this game was no different. Bears D-lineman Cornelius Washington had himself a day, notching a sack, two hurries, and a batted pass from 17 plays rushing the passer, but also grading well against the run to end up with a team-leading +4.1 grade overall.
At a time in the year when people are fighting tooth and nail to earn a roster spot and ultimately some regular season playing time, Washington did himself a world of good with this performance.
Raiders – Three Performances of Note
In all honesty, it says far more about Matt Flynn’s performance than it does Pryor’s that the Raiders’ QB job has now become a competition that he may well be losing. Flynn hasn’t impressed in black and silver, and we may now all be seeing why his former position coach Joe Philbin never looked too keen on bringing him along to Miami despite no viable quarterback there at the time. Flynn has played badly enough to open the door, and in this game at least, Pryor jammed his foot into that opening.
Flynn finished his day with a -2.2 grade while Pryor, despite an ugly throw early on, completed enough impressive passes and made enough plays with his legs to earn a +2.4 grade. While it’s worth remembering Pryor did this against the second-team defense for Chicago, it’s definitely an upside that the Raiders haven’t seen from Flynn.
Barron Times at LT
Alex Barron is the subject of one of the best lines of pre-draft prospect evaluation I have ever heard. “He’ll play in the league for ten years, but you’ll be mad at him every single day of those years.” Here we are eight years in and he’s still driving coaches mad by looking like a left tackle and playing like a scrub. Barron only actually allowed a single hurry from 17 snaps in pass protection, but he was abused in the run game all day long and coughed up a pair of penalties to make things worse. The Raiders had themselves a fine left tackle in Jared Veldheer, but Alex Barron is a major problem at the position and gives them a real issue going forward.
D.J. Hayden Back
After suffering a tear to his vena cava, one of the main veins within the human body, and nearly dying as a result, D.J. Hayden finally made it all the way back to a football field for Oakland, and saw significant action against Chicago. He started the game and played 40 snaps before being replaced, and Chicago tested him early.
He was thrown at five times and allowed just two catches, though both were significant gains and one came in a strange moment that saw him completely miss his guy at the line. He also notched himself a PD by breaking up a pass to Brandon Marshall. It’s a little to soon to tell much from his performance, but the fact that he was out there at all is great news for him and the Raiders.
- Bears CBs Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman were both on the field for 27 snaps, were targeted a combined two times, and didn’t allow a reception.
- Five of Matt Flynn’s dropbacks were under pressure, and on those plays he had a QB rating of 0.0
- Five of Terrelle Pryor’s dropbacks were under pressure, and on those plays he had a QB rating of 118.8
PFF Game Ball
No player did himself more good than QB Terrelle Pryor, who forced himself into a very real quarterback battle, and in all honesty should have forced the Raiders’ coaches into giving him the job by default after Flynn’s performance.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam