AFC West: Rashad Jenning

Progress being made in Oakland

August, 10, 2013

Random thoughts from the Oakland Raiders’ 19-17 home win over Dallas:

This season is going to be all about progress for this rebuilding program. And the first step has to be looked at as positive progress.

Dennis Allen has raved about how much this team loves football. It was easy to see Friday night. The Raiders were very spirited and fought to win this game. Every unit worked hard. This is one of the more interesting teams in the league this preseason because there is competition virtually all over the field. Competition breeds fighting spirit.

That’s the best thing Oakland has going for it right now. It wants to get better. I also think that is a credit to coach Dennis Allen and his staff. This game showed the coaching staff’s message is sinking in.

Now, let’s not get too crazy. The Raiders were far from perfect against Dallas and have a long way to go. But they seem like they are on the right track as a program.

The quarterback position is intriguing in Oakland. All four quarterbacks are a question mark.

Starter Matt Flynn was decent. He wasn’t great or terrible, although losing a fumble early was not good. Flynn will be the Raiders’ starting quarterback to start the season. The question is can he keep the job all season?

And, is anyone ready to take it from him?

Backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor was interesting Friday. He clearly has improved some and that’s a testament to his major work ethic and want-to attitude. But he has his inconsistencies. He forced an interception in the red zone and still seems raw. But he also made some things happen with his feet. Pryor is exciting and there will be a place for him.

Undrafted quarterback Matt McGloin continued to impress. He and fellow rookie Brice Butler connected on a beauty of a touchdown. McGloin received pro-style coaching at Penn State from Bill O‘Brien last year and it’s paying off. McGloin was much better than fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson. Wilson was previously considered an option to start this year. Now, he’s just trying to make the roster. While McGloin is doing well, it would be difficult to think an undrafted rookie could be in the starting mix in his first year.
  • Rookie linebacker Sio Moore had a huge sack of Tony Romo. The third-round pick from Connecticut is an exciting player. The Raiders hope he can give them a much-needed pass-rush burst.
  • Taiwan Jones, who converted to cornerback from running back this year, had a solid game and worked to solidify his status on the roster.
  • There were some issues as the offensive line. The pass rush and pass defense suffered at times.
  • Marquette King closed in on veteran punter Chris Kluwe, but Kluwe still remains the favorite to win the job.
  • The running back stable looks deep, which is a nice change from last year. Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray and Jamize Olawale all looked good.
  • None of the tight ends separated themselves in the chase to be the starter.
  • Undrafted rookie defensive back Chance Casey built on a strong camp with a good game Friday night.

Mailbag: Shaun Phillips' role

May, 29, 2013
Mid-week mail call:

Murray from Edmonton, Alberta, wants to know how I think Chris Ault’s experience with the Pistol offense will affect the Chiefs.

Bill Williamson: Ault is simply a consultant. He will not be around the team full-time. The Pistol will not be the focal point for the Chiefs' offense, though there will be some packages built for quarterback Alex Smith. Ault is also helping the Kansas City defense prepare to face the offense, which is gaining popularity in the NFL.

Terry from Ohio wants to know if I think free-agent signing Rashad Jennings can help Oakland at running back.

BW: Honestly, I’m not that high on Jennings. He is what he is -- a backup. If Darren McFadden, who has had injury issues, is out for an extended time, I don’t think Jennings will give Oakland anything special. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is bypassed by sixth-round pick Latavius Murray at some point.

Derek from San Diego wants to know if I think pass-rusher Shaun Phillips will play a big role in Denver.

BW: I think he will be a secondary pass-rusher for the Broncos -- he has some burst left and will be given the chance to play. He will not be Elvis Dumervil, but he doesn’t have to be. As long as he gives Denver a solid pass-rushing threat when needed, he’ll fill his role.