At long last, football is finally back in our lives. The NFL returned as they opened up the preseason with an exhibition between the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. With many of the starters left on the bench for this head-to-head, it was predictably not a super competitive affair and the Raiders were able to run away with a 27-11 victory.
Las Vegas scored on its first three possessions and were able to get out to a comfortable lead as Jacksonville — who held out the bulk of their notable offensive players including quarterback Trevor Lawrence — was stagnant on that side of the ball. Raiders starter Jarrett Stidham finished with 96 yards passing while completing 8 of his 15 throws. Meanwhile, Jake Luton, who got the start of the Jags, completed 10-of-17 for 94 yards.
Below, you’ll find the key takeaways from our first preseason game of the year.
Why the Raiders won
Give credit to the hometown kid, Josh McDaniels — the Raiders came to play right out of the gate. From the jump, Las Vegas seemed dialed-in offensively, even with key starters like Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller not playing. Jarrett Stidham got the nod to start the game under center and led two field goal drives on the Raiders’ opening two possessions. Those drives were headlined by the strong play of running back Josh Jacobs, who consistently moved the chains during the time he was on the field. He rushed for 30 yards on just five carries and caught both of his targets for 14 yards. That success on the offensive side of the ball continued throughout the first half where Las Vegas would go on a 20-0 run to really pull away.
Defensively, the Raiders were going up against backups, but that still doesn’t mean it wasn’t a strong effort by them. In the first half, Las Vegas’ defense forced three punts, a fumble, and watched as Jacksonville missed a 60-yard field goal. That stout defensive play continued for the bulk of the second half, outside of a garbage time touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Why the Jaguars lost
Of course, the lack of success offensively does come with a grain of salt as the Jaguars didn’t have any of their heavy-hitters playing in this game. However, Jake Luton didn’t exactly do himself many favors in trying to secure a roster spot. The offense struggled to move down the field while he was under center and were unable to put any points on the scoreboard. Even though there was a missed field goal sprinkled in when Luton was playing, it wasn’t like it was a gimme kick by any measure as it came from 60 yards out, so he didn’t exactly put his team in the best position to succeed. The only time the offense was able to put up points was when former USFL star Kyle Sloter was in.
Meanwhile, it was a bit concerning to see their defense get pushed around early with some of their starting rotation along the front seven, specifically on the ground. In the first half, the Raiders ran for 95 yards on a 4.5 yards per carry average and two touchdowns. For the game, the Jags gave up 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. That’ll need to improve as they move forward this…