Oakland Raiders: The good, bad, and ugly in preseason win over the Lions

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /
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Oakland Raiders
GLENDALE, AZ – AUGUST 12: Quarterback Connor Cook #18 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Good: Connor Cook

Connor Cook has had an up and down start to his career. To say the least. The last time we saw Cook in extended action, he was stinking up the joint, throwing three picks, in a lopsided 27-14 playoff loss – that wasn’t actually even that close – to the Houston Texans back in 2016.

Yeah, it’s absolutely unfair to put that loss all on him. He was a rookie and was making his first start – in a playoff game, no less. The pressure on him and the weight on his shoulders had to be immense. Unimaginable.

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Well, after that, the team picked up E.J. Manuel, who served as Derek Carr‘s primary understudy for the 2017 season, and Cook found himself buried on the depth chart. Inactive on most game days.

But, with a new coaching staff, comes new life.

Cook finds himself in a battle for the quarterback spot with Manuel, though you have to believe that Cook has the upper hand. Not only does Gruden love him – he’s raved about him since before he was drafted by the Raiders – his performance against the Lions, in comparison to Manuel’s, had to put some separation between the two.

Not that Manuel was bad. He wasn’t. Manuel’s never been bad in his short tenure with the Raiders. He’s just never been – great. About the best that can be said for Manuel is that he’s been “okay.”

In a new system against the Lions, Manuel seemed – competent. He threw for 46 yards on 4/6 passing, and was without a touchdown or an interception. He was, “okay.”

In the very early stages though, Cook seems to be thriving in Gruden’s quarterback-friendly system, throwing for 141 yards on 11/19 passing, with a touchdown, and no interceptions. His seven-yard touchdown strike to Ryan Switzer was impressive, as he was able to extend a play with his legs, and fire a rocket to a place where only Switzer had a chance to make the grab.

It was a fantastic play by both Switzer, to get open, and Cook, to deliver a solid ball.

It was a good opening act, and one that should give Cook a solid handle on the backup job. If he continues to play like he did against Detroit, when the final cuts are made, he may find himself the only other quarterback on the final roster.

It’s a positive, encouraging sign, to see him play so well, but let’s all remember, it’s a small sample size — and that former Raiders quarterback Mat McGloin always looked fantastic in the preseason too.