Tomorrow night is the second playoff game. The starters (including Cutler) should play anywhere from the entire first quarter to the entire first half. Hopefully this'll give us a chance to see if Cutler's 2-2, 47 yard performance to start last week's game is going to be an aberration or possibly a regular occurence this year. A few other things to watch:
The offensive line: Of course. The pass blocking was Okay when the first team offensive line was in the game, but shitty when the back-ups came in. The run blocking was shitty no matter who was out there. I'd expect them to try to establish the run a little bit to see if they can average more than 2.6 yards per carry and calm people down a bit.
The Safeties: Major Wright's performance last week should have been another step on the way to earning the starting job, but the injury to his finger will probably keep him out until the season opener and will cost him the starting job to begin with, most likely. This sucks, as it means yet another healthy dose of Danieal Manning. Now, it's not that I dislike Danieal. He seems like a nice guy, always does what he's asked, and he's a hell of a kick returner. But he sucks ass as a safety. Hairy guy ass. He can't tackle to save his life and his instincts are absolutely terrible. He's going to lose his job to Major Wright eventually, it's just a shame that probably won't be until week two of the regular season at the earliest. Oh, and Craig Steltz got hurt, so at least we don't have to worry about him lining up with the starters, which would be the only scenario worse than handing the job back to Manning. I'm not sure why I said you should watch the safeties. I mean, it's not like one preseason game is going to change how much they all suck (outside of Chris Harris). We've been seeing that for years. I guess maybe you should look away, lest you suffer some kind of horrible disappointment.
Pisa and Roach: I have a feeling the team really wants Pisa to win the SAM linebacker spot, but to their credit, and according to all observers, the reps have been split equally between the two. Whichever one of these two guys plays better this week and next week will walk away as the starter.
Dan LeFevour: Unless Matt Gutierrez is some kind of wizard who can pick up the Martz offfense in three days, LeFevour will be the back up quarterback until Hanie returns. We should hope that he plays a bit better than he did last week, although the possibility of LeFevour playing an actual regular season game if Cutler goes down reminds me of this conversation about Jim Sorgi and the Colts reported on Kissing Suzy Kolber earlier this week:
"One of my friends used to work/intern for a sports show. One day, he was helping a reporter interview Colts OC Tom Moore. The Colts, of course, were set at QB with LaserRocketArm, so the reporter decided to question Moore about the backup, Jim Sorgi. One part of the interview went a little something like this.
Reporter – How many reps does Sorgi get with the first team offense during the week?
Moore – None.
Reporter – Why is that?
Moore – Because he doesn’t play with the first team during games.
Reporter – So you don’t want him to get any practice with the first team, in case Peyton goes down?
Moore – Well, if Peyton goes down, we are fucked.
Reporter – So why not give Sorgi some first team reps just in case he does?
Moore – Why would we practice being fucked?"
Found here. And that's pretty much exactly how you should feel if #15 (how did they not retire Jim Miller's number?) takes the field in any meaningful game this year.
The runningbacks: Despite all the good we've heard about them this offseason, they collectively dropped a load in the first preseason game. They all missed blocks (very, very crucial for backs to block in this offense) and they averaged little-to-nothing on their carries. It'd be nice to see those things improve.
More pressure from the defensive line, please: The Chargers were pretty good at going with short passes to keep the defensive line from being much of a factor. The Raiders don't tend to work that way, so there should be opportunities to get at Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller, or Colt Brennan (Wow. That's some depth chart). Hopefully they take advantage.
That's about all I'll be looking for, especially since it's still the preseason and 99% of the conclusions I draw will be wrong (whereas in the regular season I'd like to believe that number hovers around 85%). Enjoy the game, I'll be back with reactions either Sunday or Monday.