The last two years, the Raiders have had the luxury of having an established, veteran backup quarterback in Marcus Mariotta. This year, if starter Derek Carr were to suffer an injury, the team will have to hand over the reins to either Jarrett Stidham or Nick Mullens.
In Thursday’s first pre-season game, the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, Stidham and Mullens saw all the snaps. And, on first glance, performed well a the Raiders defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-11.
The Raiders led 20-0 at the half and didn’t give up a touchdown until late in the game. Stidham started and completed 8 of 15 passes for 96 yards. He also scrambled for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Mullens completed 8 of 11 passes for 72 yards.
“I thought (Stidham) got off to a decent start,” said head coach Josh McDaniels, making his Raider coaching debut. “We had a couple times down there where we got stopped in the red zone early which those can come back to haunt you if you don’t put those in. But I thought he made some good decisions, threw the ball away a couple times when it wasn’t there, escaped out of the pocket on the one touchdown run. Generally, he operated the offense well.”
Stidham’s first drives ended in Daniel Carlson field goals, the first from 32 yards out and the second from 55 yards out. Mullens came in the game on the third series and drove the Raiders 50 yards on five plays capped by an Ameer Abdullah 8-yard touchdown run.
Late in the second quarter, Stidham returned and scored on a 12-yard scramble, capping a 14-play, 69-yard drive with 3:58 left in the half.
“They each had a little bit of duress that they had to deal with and again, I’m happy that you get to do that in a preseason game because really you get the opportunity to see if they’re going to make a good decision,” McDaniels said. “They didn’t turn it over tonight, which I was happy about that, and they made some good plays.”
In the fourth quarter, Austin Walter scored on an 8-yard run to extend the Raiders lead to 27-3. That series was helmed by Chase Garbers, who finished the game completing 4 of 6 passes for 35 yards.
The Raiders showed a lot of depth at running back, led by Zamir White with 52 yards on 11 carries. Walter had 49 yards on eight carries and last year’s starter Josh Jacobs getting five surprise carries for 30 yards.
“(White) did that at Georgia — he ran hard with the ball in his hand. He’s tough to tackle,” McDaniels said. “He finishes runs the right way, brings a physical element to the game and the team. It was a good opportunity for him to get in there and do that at our level. He played the kicking game some, and there are going to be some things that we’re going to have to tweak and clean up.
“But I thought for him to get out there and establish that was the kind of runner he was at Georgia and to see him do it here was good.”