Updated August 5, 2022 - 8:24 am
CANTON, Ohio — For a few brief moments on Thursday, the finishing touch on Josh McDaniels’ Ohio homecoming was left in doubt by a severe thunderstorm that swept across his hometown and threatened to shut down the Hall of Fame game between the Raiders and Jaguars.
But as weather cells are prone to do in this part of the country, the storm quickly came and went, the sky brightened and after a 40-minute delay, the Raiders’ coaching debut of McDaniels went off as scheduled.
On the same field he starred at quarterback for Canton McKinley High School, and while strolling on the same sidelines as his father, Thom, did as one of the great high school coaches in Ohio history, McDaniels rolled out a Raiders team that looked impressively crisp and efficient in a 27-11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It was a unique opportunity,” McDaniels said. “I’m very grateful I had it.”
His players were happy to get the win for their first-year head coach.
“We knew how much this meant to him, so it was nice to help make it a special night for him,” said Jarrett Stidham, who got the call at quarterback to start the game, with Derek Carr getting the night off.
By no means was it perfect. The Raiders still have some cleaning up to do on the offensive line. But given how big guns like Carr, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones didn’t play a snap, it was a positive first outing for McDaniels and his Raiders.
Save for the three sacks allowed — two of which came off the left side, where starting tackle Kolton Miller got the night off — it was mostly an efficient first half for the Raiders resulting in a 20-0 lead.
The Raiders have emphasized disciplined football throughout camp, with players routinely running laps for transgressions such as false starts and mishandled center/quarterback exchanges The goal has been to cut down on the self-inflicted wounds the club has been guilty of for years now, including committing the second-most penalties in the NFL last year with 44 infractions occurring before the snap of the ball.
“Our goal was basically to set the tone for what kind of football team we want to be,” said Alex Leatherwood, who played most of the first half at right tackle. “We want to be a team that’s tough, smart and can execute under critical situations. I feel like we did a lot of good things tonight.”
They were guilty of just one penalty during a crisp first half that resulted in four possessions that ended with points, including two touchdowns and a pair of Daniel Carlson field goals.
Of particular note was the play of Stidham, who the Raiders acquired in a trade with the Patriots during the offseason. A three-year pupil of McDaniels in New England, Stidham has been impressive throughout camp and appears to have a leg up on the backup job behind Carr.
His first-half numbers — 8 of 14 for 96 yards — were tainted a bit by a dropped pass by Tyron Johnson that cost the Raiders another 40 or so yards. Stidham directed three scoring drives over the first two quarters, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown dash in which he flashed his speed and athletic ability.
On the flip side, it was just a so-so debut for the offensive line, specifically the struggles of Brandon Parker as a replacement for Miller. Parker has been getting the majority of first-team reps at right tackle, where he is in a battle with Alex Leatherwood. But with Miller getting the night off, Parker took his spot with Leatherwood getting the nod on the other side.
Parker did not have a good night, while Leatherwood looked solid in run blocking and pass protection. The Raiders have opened the right side up for competition, and after one game Leatherwood appeared to have taken a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, left guard John Simpson, center Andre James and right guard Lester Cotton all had solid nights.