After a disappointing outing to open the preseason in Baltimore, quarterback Sean Mannion may have hushed some of his critics with Saturday's performance against Oakland.
Playing the entire first half, Mannion completed 10 of his 16 passes for 84 yards. He led L.A. to an 11-play drive that would end in a missed field goal, but also three scoring drives in the second quarter.
When Mannion exited the game, Los Angeles had a 13-0 lead at halftime.
"I think going back and looking at the tape of the Baltimore game, obviously not the performance you want, but also don't think it was all bad. There was a couple of balls bad at the line, some things that are a little bit out of your control on offense," Mannion said. "The whole team did a great job of just looking to improve, and there's certainly ways for me to improve. Like I said, I just felt like it was efficient. I didn't think there were any balls that I forced or any balls that I had open and missed. I think it was an efficient day for the offense as a whole."
While the two teams traded punts for the game's first four possessions, Mannion broke through for a first down with a strong 17-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver Mike Thomas.
"Shane kind of said if we're going to do a first-down run here we're going to dial for run-action, and that's exactly what happened," Mannion said of the pass, referring to passing game coordinator Shane Waldron. "Mike ran a great route, did a great job winning on his route and great protection. Anytime you get one of those explosive passes, really you get into a rhythm pretty easily."
Mannion also go to air it out a bit with a long downfield throw on the right sideline to wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge. The young wideout made an outstanding grab to pull the ball down while being well covered.
Check out in-game photos from the Rams' first home preseason matchup against the Raiders at the Coliseum.
"That was a situation where we got the right look to take a shot. I just tried to put some air under it, give him a chance and he went up and made a great play," Mannion said.
Head coach Sean McVay credited Mannion for the way he commanded the offense throughout the first half, specifically calling out the throws to Thomas and Hodge.
"I thought he did a good job with some plays. I think [he had a] tough start a little bit, but I think the big play down the field to Hodge and then earlier on when he hit Mike Thomas off the play action on the deep in-breaking route — those were two big plays," McVay said. "Good throws, where longer developing play actions kind of let it develop. Made some nice accurate throws down the field — one in-break, one down the sideline and then kind of managed the game throughout. But, I think to go 10-for-16 definitely was an improvement and those two plays were two of the better plays that he made today."
With just a couple weeks until the start of the regular season, it appears Mannion still has a solid grasp on the backup quarterback role. And he feels like he's ready to come in and execute the offense well if called upon.
"Yes, absolutely," he said. "I think the preseason is a great chance for everybody to get live reps and real game action. I think our coaches do such a great job of even in practice, whether it's situational work or a competitive period against the defense. Really making it as close to a game as you can without it being a real thing.
"I absolutely feel comfortable going into a game if need be. I think that's a credit to Sean [McVay] and the whole staff for giving me opportunities in the preseason, and then also creating those situations at practice as well."