The Raiders — under the fresh tutelage of new coach Dennis Allen — failed to win their first preseason game last week, and their second one as well just days later.
But if there’s anything notably encouraging, it’s that Oakland fared better against the Arizona Cardinals than it did in its preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. And with a week’s worth of preparation, Allen hopes Saturday’s outing against the Detroit Lions will result in his first win as coach.
“It’s more of a dress rehearsal,” Allen said of his Week 3 matchup in Oakland. “We’ve got a little bit more in, from a game-planning standpoint this week than we normally do. We’re still not full game plan, but more than what we’ve done the first two preseason games.”
That seems like a sound idea. Because in seeking their first win in exhibition play, the Raiders will have to blunt the offensive force that is Detroit.
“Obviously, defensively we have to be prepared for [wide receiver] Calvin Johnson is an outstanding player,” Allen said. “Obviously, Matt Stafford is an exceptional quarterback, so we have our hands full on defense.”
Detroit is coming into Oakland having just thrashed the Baltimore Ravens 27-12. Stafford passed for 184 yards while tallying two touchdowns. Johnson, not to be outdone, nabbed five receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown in less than a half.
“They’re scheming him now, to know where he’s at all times,” Raiders free safety Michael Huff said of Johnson.
“He’s obviously their best offensive threat and one of the best, if not the best, receivers in the league. So, you have to always know where he’s at.”
But defense, unlike in seasons past, seems to be a priority in Oakland. The Raiders twice sacked Arizona quarterbacks last week, while recording an interception and forcing multiple fumbles.
“That’s the one thing with this defense. You never know what you’re going to get,” Huff said. “[The defense] kind of plays to the strength of the D-line, linebackers and secondary. It puts people in position to make plays. And it is up to us to make the play.”
But while Oakland’s preseason defense can be deemed formidable, so are the Lions behind defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“They rush the passer really well,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “So it’s a good defense with a very good offense behind it.”
It’s an offense that Oakland will have to match without receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. But Rod Streater, who’s had solid outings thus far, will fill in for Ford on Saturday.