As is customary, before a game we exchange questions with the opposing team blog. This week, as the Arizona Cardinals play the Oakland Raiders Sunday night, Levi Damien from Silver And Black Pride and I made the exchange. He also was a guest on the podcast, so you can listen to that, too.
Here is what Levi had to say:
Bruce Arians said the Raiders defense looks a lot like Seattle's with Ken Norton coaching. How much truth is there to that?
If he's suggesting they are on nearly the same level, yeah, no. Not even close. However, there are similarities. The Raiders have some big corners like the Seahawks do such as Keith McGill (6-3, 210), Neiko Thorpe (6-1, 200), Ras-I Dowling (6-1, 200), and TJ Carrie (6-0, 205). Norton has compared his use of Khalil Mack to that of Bruce Irvin. Norton also has a couple of his former players from Seattle in Benson Mayowa and Malcolm Smith. And I'm sure he has brought a lot of what he learned in Seattle with him to the Raiders so I'm sure there will be some schematic similarities.
How much different should Derek Carr look with a pair of new, talented receivers?
Outside of the obvious benefits to having two receivers who are better than anyone he had last season, having them imparts a lot of confidence in Carr he didn't have last season. He didn't have a lot of faith in his receivers last season to consistently get open and gain separation. He has great arm strength and throws a fantastic deep ball, but rarely got to show it off last season. He is also coming into his second season in which most quarterbacks take their biggest leap now that he's had an entire offseason to digest what he learned as a rookie.
If you had to pick a word to describe the offense and one for the defense, what would they be and why?
For the offense: Sharp. Carr looks sharp, his receivers run crisp routes, and Latavius Murray is instinctual and explosive.
For the defense: Energetic. They fly around the field. The intention being that if they lose, it won't be for lack of effort and hustle. Whether the talent is there is the question.
Give me one under-the-radar player on each side of the ball we should be looking out for in this game.
Look for Brice Butler on offense. He is the team's leading receiver this preseason, just as he was last preseason. He has good hands with the athletic ability to make something happen after the catch.
On the defense look for Keith McGill. He was injured a lot as a fourth round rookie last season and fell behind his teammates. He came on strong this offseason and is pushing for a starting job, but missed some time in training camp. I expect them to give him a long look with the first team and possibly the second team as well. He doesn't have great feet, but as I mentioned earlier, he is huge (6-3, 210) and has done against the deep ball as well as jump balls (as you might expect).
Do you see any surprise cuts for the Raiders coming? Who?
No big surprises for someone who doesn't follow them closely. There are some tough cuts on the defensive line and someone will be shocked by whomever ends up getting the ax because of it. The Raiders are still in rebuilding mode so I don't expect any cuts that would really send a shockwave across the NFL. If I had to choose one guy whose status is not secure and whose release might surprise some people, I'd say Andre Holmes. He led the team in receiving yards last season (693), but the receiving corps is much deeper than it was last season, dropping him down the depth chart. I think he'll make the team, but he is definitely on the bubble. If he is cut, I expect a team would look to sign him. He won't play in this game because he is out with a broken hand.