Category Archives: Oakland Raiders

Goodbye, Gruden’s Casualties: OTAS

I know it is OTA’s and it is all about moving forward to the 2018 season but I want to take a few moment to remember the legacies of a few Raiders casualties. You won’t read about any of these guys in Raiders Hall of Fame. They’re the casualties of the lost 2017 season.

Michael Crabtree, Sean Smith, David Amerson, Clive Walford and Marshall Newhouse were all let go before their contracts expired. Jamize Olawale and Cordarelle Patterson were traded even though they flashed at times for the Silver and Black. Don’t forget Marquette King, JDR, TJ Carrie and Denico Autry who will also move on. Otherwise, peace out to Darius Latham and Jihad Ward. 

Marquette King, Broncos

I get it. Marquette King had more followers than some of these NFL teams but let’s not pretend like he wasn’t legit at his craft. And really, to let him go on the first day of the new year when he hadn’t met his new coach? Even if Gruden wants a punter who will be quiet and kick, adding one more roster question doesn’t help Oakland’s cause. King wasn’t the only person that got his walking players.

Still, let’s remember King not only for his dances after punts but all the work he did in the community. Plus, he was the league’s lone punter. He made us forget about Shane Lechler and was actually athletic in a similar way as Raiders legend Ray Guy.

Michael Crabtree, Ravens

Crabtree was the biggest surprise since he’s been Carr’s favorite weapon especially in the redzone. Crabtree’s numbers and relative contract, that had $6 million in non-guaranteed money, made him a likely candidate to stay on the Raiders. Instead, the Raiders cut him.

However, Gruden and the Raiders had other plans. It was clear that Crab fell out of favor with the last staff and for whatever reason, Gruden wasn’t ready to give him a restart. Lookout for Crab to really play with a chip on his shoulder this season.

Either way, let’s not forget Crab for being one of the first players to buy into the new era of the Silver and Black. He took a below market value contract to play with Derek Carr and prove his worth. He was the start of a culture change. Crabtree was more than a gold chain and Talib antagonist. He was a Raider.

David Amerson, Chiefs and Sean Smith, Free Agent

The greatest cornerback duo that never was. Amerson and Smith didn’t live up to their expectations. They were supposed to be the big, cornerback duo that could make plays on the ball. Last season, Amerson couldn’t stay on the field, despite being an underrated addition when he signed a few years ago. Smith couldn’t even get practice time after being a key free agent before the previous season.

As a unit, it took the Raiders nearly the whole season to get an interception. Some of that falls on these veterans. Plus, their contracts, Amerson’s health and Smith’s legal trouble just made it all to easy to start over. 

Marshall Newhouse, Bills

Speaking of upgrades, Newhouse was cut because he really didn’t solidify the right tackle spot. Newhouse was adequate on the right side. He also had experience playing a variety of positions on the offensive line. However, he wasn’t better than average and the Gruden regime wanted someone better for their scheme. Newhouse will always be remembered for recovering that fumble versus Miami and getting flipped when he tried to run and advance the ball.

Jamize Olawale, Cowboys

Here’s another trade that hurt. Olawale hadn’t been utilized by the previous regime. When he was, he flashed running ability like that big run versus the Steelers a few years ago. Otherwise, he was a balanced player with blocking, catching and special team abilities. Olawale was a class act in the community and still relatively young.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Patriots

Speaking of under utilization, Patterson played more than expected due to injuries to other WRs. However, he didn’t always see a lot of designed targets. He did give the Raiders some game changing runs, kick coverage and kick returns. That alone gives him a reason to be on an NFL roster. Now, Belichick gets to use his game changing speed and special teams ability. Patterson should see some extra snaps at RB too. Guess he had to go since the Raiders are deep at WR but we really chose Seth Roberts over him? And all we got back was conditional pick in this trade, SMH.

Navarro Bowman

Oh yeah, Navarro Bowman isn’t signed after a solid year as our runstopper. He is probably not in the plans since the Raiders already signed three veteran linebackers. 

Jihad Ward, Cowboys and Darius Latham, free agent

Here are two players that played a ton their rookie year but injuries and other competition kept them mostly out of the rotation. Latham isn’t too surprising since he was an undrafted player. However, Jihad Ward was a second round pick and he never even sniffed that potential. Both players didn’t seem like fits in the new defensive scheme and both are easily upgraded. Ward was traded and Latham waived.

Clive Walford, Jets

Another tragic draft pick waived. Walford never regained his career projections after he injured himself in an ATV accident before his sophomore season. He played well last year but we all knew Jared Cook was the starter. Walford had all the tools to be both a good blocker and pass catcher. He just never consistently put it all together. That’s why the Raiders always needed to bring in another player to compete or compliment him. Walford is the type of player who might benefit from a change of scenery though.

Corey James, Free Agent

Another player waiver with flashes who battled injuries. Hopefully he catches on somewhere else?

TJ Carrie, Browns and Denico Autry, Colts

Two surprise contributors who got more money elsewhere. I ain’t mad at them even if they’re both sorrier teams. Both Carrie and Autry served and represented the Silver and Black every week. Yes, we could’ve used more consistency out of both players but they both showed willingness to play multiple positions. They both fought for playing time and a roster spot. Plus, they arguably got better every single year. Carrie was undrafted and Autry was claimed from another team. These were too Raiders who I wish the best for moving forward.

Aldon Smith, N/A

An obvious subtraction since he hadn’t played in two seasons. Tragic story where unlimited potential was derailed by demons. Hopefully, he can get his life together.

Jack Del Rio, N/A

The bay area native, living his dream job. We’ll remember Captain Black Jack for his gutsy fourth down calls and weekly media cliches. He should also be remembered for modernizing the Raiders facilities, getting decent free agents and giving this team direction and foundation. The weird thing is, he lost all of that just as fast as he built it.

The truth is, 2017 was a weird season especially to those of us not in the lockerroom. Someone needed to pay the price and it was JDR. Not only did he let players impact the lockerroom culture, but he failed to make weekly or halftime adjustments. He got comfortable and the team got stagnant.

Don’t feel too bad though. He signed an extension before the year and he got cashed out to not work.

The New Guys

Regardless, you don’t really get mad until you realize who the Raiders replaced said players with. For a minute, there was a running joke that they were cutting black players for white players. That wasn’t entirely true but it was a weird coincidence. For instance, they signed Jordy Nelson to take over at receiver for Crab despite his added age and more recent injury concerns. Adding Martavis Bryant helps soften the loss of Crab and Patterson too. 

Smith, Carrie and Amerson were replaced with veterans like Rashaad Melvin, Shareece Wright and Leon Hall. It remains to be seen if they’re upgrades. Reggie Nelson was re-signed despite him getting beat bad a lot last year. Journey man tackle Breno Giacomini replaces Newhouse but that might not be an upgrade either. 

Oakland added Derek Carrier and Keith Smith and re-signed Lee Smith to replace Olawale and Walford in the new offensive scheme. Again, lateral moves at best.

They spent a bunch more draft picks to restructure their offensive line with the roster moves and new scheme. Emmanuel Lamur, Derrick Johnson and Tahir Whitehead will takeover for Bowman’s leadership.

The point is, yes Gruden made changes but it is unclear if any of them are really upgrades. Either way, it is clear Gruden is trying to change the culture and schemes and he doesn’t care where a player was drafted or signed. Hopefully, it all works out, the Raiders win and we forget all these casualties.

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Gruden Era Can’t Trust the Process

The Oakland Raiders blew up the process by firing Jack Del Rio and hiring Jon Gruden. You don’t hire Gruden from the booth, assemble of group of experienced and expensive assistants and pay Del Rio off to win a Division title. The expectations for Gruden and company is a Super Bowl ASAP.

Of course, that means the Raiders will need to fill their roster with Super Bowl level talent. They have glaring needs for elite talent and depth across the roster. They could wait for some draft picks from the previous regime to develop but that was the process that failed them in 2017.

The Raiders need to get top level talent in the draft, obviously, but they need to do that in free agency as well. Gruden has been out of coaching for a while so he doesn’t have a pipeline of active players ready to go. He’s got to get a new generation of players to buy into his legends of the 2000s.

Del Rio needed to attract free agents too. He did to some extent. They found budget guys like Perry Riley Jr., Reggie Nelson, David Amerson, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch and Navarro Bowman. They got top guys like Keleci Osemele and Rodney Hudson. They capitalized on second tier free agents like Sean Smith, Dan Williams, Donald Penn and Bruce Irvin.

Now, Gruden has got to take it a step further. In the past, general manager Reggie McKenzie has been hesitant to pay older free agents or handover big contracts. That will have to change in the Gruden era. They will need take some short cuts and that means signing the top free agents.

We’re seeing it in Jacksonville. The Jaguars spent dollars on elite free agents. They also drafted well and developed those players. Now, they’ve got a deep roster with veterans and young players. Oakland needs to follow a similar format.

On the other hand, we’ve seen teams like Giants sign free agents and take steps backwards. That proves the Raiders need a balance of draft picks and free agents to improve their depth.


When Reggie McKenzie took over this organization, he tore down the roster by releasing underperforming players. He hired Dennis Allen to lead the rebuild.

A few years later, McKenzie started reconstruction. He hired an experienced coach like Del Rio. He started attracting under the radar free agents that offered the most return on their investment. He found veterans willing to buy-in and prove themselves.

Now, the Raiders will enter the re-tool part of the process. They have cornerstone players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Amari Cooper to build around. They have veterans who have proved themselves like Osemele, Irvin, Hudson and others. Gruden will need to take this nucleus and mold into a true contender.

Gruden is tasked with getting this team an identity. He’s got some talent that he needs to get to buy into his vision. However, he’s going to need to get some more talent around them that fits his image. This is how the team takes the next step.

It means getting rid of players who don’t fit the character or play style that Gruden needs. Those who don’t buy in or fit in will need to be replaced.

That means bringing in talent that elevates the quality of the roster and is willing to fill specific needs. They need elite talented players willing to buy into Gruden’s image of the Raiders. Oakland will need to spend on elite players that compliment the nucleus they already have and will fit Gruden’s identity.

The Raiders can’t waste anymore time waiting for players to develop. They can’t keep players on scholarship. They can’t squeeze round pegs into Gruden’s image.

Hiring Gruden didn’t just speed up the process. Combine that with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in two years and the entire process is blown up.

Oakland is taking a huge gamble on Gruden. They’re taking a huge gamble moving to Las Vegas. Oakland needs a Super Bowl ASAP.

The Jaguars and Titans both won a playoff game before the Silver and Black. If that is not an indicator that the team needs to speed up the process, what is?

The Raiders can’t stop gambling now. They got to gamble by spending money on specific, elite free agents. Sorry McKenzie, but your entire process is blown up. Oakland can’t wait for you draft picks to develop. You gotta open up that checkbook and take some shortcuts to help Gruden build his identity.

$100 million later, Jon Gruden is officially official head coach of the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders officially got their white whale. They gave Jon Gruden $100 million over 10 years so the ESPN commentator would return to the sideline. ruden’s assistants are expected to be heavily compensated as well.

It is rumored they’re hiring Rams QB coach Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator and Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will hold the same positions in Oakland.

Why Gruden’s return is good

Every Raiders fan remembers the last time Gruden wore Raiders colors as a coach. It was the infamous Tuck Rule game. If his return reverses that curse, then I’m all for it.Other fans, look forward to the nostalgia of Gruden getting the offense back in shape and making plenty of great sound bites. If the coordinator rumors are true that is great too. Guenther is a true 4-3 guy who will finally give this defense an identity. They won’t hide behind a hybrid scheme. They won’t get pushed around either. Gruden is also a proclaimed offensive guru. That means it will be on him to get Amari Cooper and Derek Carr back on track after both regressed in 2017.Ultimately, the move is a signal from Raiders owner Mark Davis. You don’t give that kind of money to Gruden and eat Jack Del Rio’s contract if you aren’t committed to winning a championship as soon as possible. The Raiders have up to two years left in Oakland and it is clear they want to make a playoff push before that. Having an organization committed to a winning culture is always a good thing. It’s a move that should lift the morale of fans too.

Why Gruden part two could get bad

Remember the last time Mark Davis made a move that fans loved but everyone else questioned. That was the addition of Marshawn Lynch a year after retirement. The jury is still out on that move.Don’t forget it was also Davis who hired Del Rio. Del Rio was a great hire at the time but that turned sour quick.Gruden will have even higher expectations. Ownership will expect a significant playoff push before they leave Oakland. If not, Reggie McKenzie could get his pink slip next. Speaking of that, it is rumored that Gruden may want to make some additions to the personnel department too. McKenzie will stay onboard for the interim. However, it remains to be seen if he will stay with Gruden long term. Then there’s the whole matter of Las Vegas. The Raiders are taking on a lot of debt to make the move happen. They’ll need Gruden to make the team into a winner before, during and after the move. The success of the relocation to a smaller city and new sports town depends on the Raiders on-field-product.Additionally, there’s a huge elephant in the room. Gruden hasn’t called a game in nearly a decade. Certainly, he’s analyzed the game and become aware of new trends as an outsider. However, that’s completely different than leading men and putting together a game plan.On top of that, he’ll lead on Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator. Olsen held the same title with the Raiders during Carr’s rookie year. That’s good for continuity but let’s remember that is the year Carr earned his check down Derek nickname. It also reminds me of the time we rehashed Gregg Knapp. It can’t be much worse than that. Olsen did help Jared Goff develop this year. He probably learned some modern west coast offense from Sean McVay too. But Olsen didn’t do anything in his second stint with Jacksonville. Olsen’s offenses have been average throughout his career. Don’t forget that. Otherwise, John DeFillipo was the QB coach that year and the year before. He’s the real attributed mastermind behind Carr’s rookie year and the year that brought us Terelle Pryor. Except DeFillipo will probably get a head coaching job and not return to Oakland with Olsen. Hopefully, Gruden and Olsen don’t expect to dink and dunk their way to a title in 2018. If that’s the case, expect Raiders fans to turn their morale real quick. On both sides of the ball, the Raiders are going to have to add some guys to help the transition to Gruden’s regime? If it works, is to be determined…

The verdict

Applaud the Raiders for doing what they had to do and gambling on Gruden seems like the sexy bet. It won’t come without challenges because all coaching changes result in growing pains. Nonetheless, it was clear they had to move on from Jack Del Rio. Del Rio looked old and tired as the season went on. He never could find the answers during the games or in post game press conferences. There was a ton of weird drama from Lynch, Carr, the defense and the offensive line. Del Rio couldn’t keep it under control. Reports also said Del Rio wasn’t staying as late as much either. It seems like Del Rio always found someone to blame besides himself. He could never build a defensive culture or limit penalties during his entire tenure. He couldn’t maximize his talent in 2017. Del Rio wasn’t going to persuade any free agents moving forward either.Further, all this offseason lockerrrom snitching proves the Raiders lost their camaraderie. It proves that they weren’t responding to Del Rio. Raiders fans saw that as the team lacked motivation and often looked beaten during games. This prestigious franchise seemed like they were losing the physical battle each week. It was time to move on. Props to Del Rio though. He took getting fired from his dream job in stride. Del Rio got the news directly after a road game but still delivered his post game pressed. I can only imagine the emotions of losing your dream job. As fans, we all dream of doing the job that Del Rio worked his way into. He probably had the same dreams as a kid in the bay. His family and him also did a ton for the community. Del Rio built a foundation and moved the culture forward. Hopefully, Gruden can get the Raiders to the next step. This would be like the Warriors firing Marc Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr. In that same comparison, Gruden has got to win and win fast. He’s got to get this team contending for serious titles each year. He’s got to get a couple of Super Bowls over the next ten years. He’s got to get one with this core group, preferably before the team leaves its home. At the very least, Gruden needs to win a Super Bowl in four years or this could be a huge embarrassment for every one involved.Gruden has got to be more than just an upgrade over Del Rio. Gruden has got to turn the offense around and get the defense playing hard again. He’s got to sell tickets in Oakland and Las Vegas. He’s gotta coexist with Davis and McKenzie to get quality draft picks and feee agents. Can Gruden do all that? That is to be determined.

Raider Nation Rise

If you’re anything like me, than you’re a Los Angeles Raiders fan disappointed you’re not attending the game that is the closest your team has ever been to you in your lifetime.

Nonetheless, the Raiders need a win today. It doesn’t matter that a win will earn them a less important draft pick or another year with a mediocre coaching staff. Oakland needs this win for its fans.

The Raider Nation paying three times regular ticket value to black out the StubHub center deserve a win. The Raiders fans in Oakland facing the fact that they have one more season with their team deserve a win. Those of us who expected a Super Bowl battle deserve a win too.

Sure, all wins matter. This one matters a little more since the Raiders are returning to their second home. The Silver and Black won Lombardi trophies as the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders in LA. Raider Nation usually packs out Chargers games but this one means more since it’s on our home court.

It also means more cause the Raiders season is basically over. They have nothing to play for but their jobs and coaches jobs. Oh yeah, they have to play for those Raiders and fans who wear the emblem and colors with pride 365 days a year. Those of us wearing our gear in Week 17 with nothing to play for deserve this win. It’s time for the Raiders to play for their fans and it’s time for RaiderNation to rise.

Are the Raiders’ Decision Makers Bold?

The Oakland Raiders suffered an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. A seemingly defeated head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t seem like he knew the answers. He insisted that the offense needed to play “Bold.”

Silver and Black QB Derek Carr later said he was going to let it rip because that is what the coaches want. However, I’d push back on Jack Del Rio. How has he or this organization been bold? What example is the team following?

Outside of a few 4th and 1 gambles, when has the coaching staff been bold? Was it bold to fire Ken Norton Jr. after 11 games? He was the sacrificial lamb but he had already had his power compromised by Del Rio and John Pagano. Before Pagano took over, the defense played anything but bold. They were one of the least blitzing teams in the league.

It might have been bold for the Raiders to replace OC Bill Musgrave after he his contract expired. They promoted Todd Downing who never held the title. Downing changed the scheme with more zone blocking and pocket concepts. Is that a bold move or a dumb move?

Was it bold to bring in Marshawn Lynch? Lynch was the hometown heroes of fans. He filled a need at running back.

How about holding onto underperforming players like Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith on defense? Both were supposed to help change the culture of the defense. It is amazing they both find themselves as significant contributors. However, it is an indicator of the talent level on defense. There are hardly any bold playmakers outside of Khalil Mack.

Speaking of the draft, the Raiders have taken some bold gambles. They drafted a corner with off-field incidents and he played well in only two games. Now he is on IR along with our second round pick who needs massive development.

Factor that in with our third round pick in this year’s draft as well as our second and third picks from 2016 and we have a bunch of developmental defensive linemen who might not last in the league. They’ve gotten some flashes from Mario Edwards Jr., Justin Ellis and Denico Autry but they haven’t been dominating enough collectively. Or maybe their coaching hasn’t been bold enough to put them into positions to succeed?

Otherwise, signing Navarro Bowman was a bold move. Except the Raiders were depleted at linebacker which was already the worst position group on the team. Bowman was another no-brainer since he came from a Bay Area native anyways.

The Raiders boldest moves were giving extensions to Gabe Jackson, Jack Del Rio, Derek Carr and Donald Penn. Penn is aging and appears to be on the decline but he is still a solid player. Carr and Jackson have both proven to be franchise building blocks but both have struggled this year. Del Rio had a great year last year but so did this entire team. It actually appears like the team hasn’t rallied around JDR like they have in the previous years.

Ultimately, the amount of money the Raiders dished out to the aforementioned stakeholders was bold. It was bold because it was largely based off one year of elite play and good play the year before.  It’s hard to say it was a worthy gamble considering those stakeholders’ performance this year. Oakland will stick with their investments and that’s pretty bold too.

Thus, the Raiders coaching staff wants the Raiders to play bolder this week but have they been bold? Have they taken risks and let it ripped? It’s arguable that they played it safe by keeping the core of the team together.

Nonetheless, when Oakland did make bold investments and decisions it has rarely paid off. Therefore, don’t blame the players if they play it safe too. Don’t blame them for reinforcing the safe culture established by the coaches.

Don’t get mad at the players for not being bold when you’ve rarely been bold. The coaches need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they’ve been bold? Because maybe the players are being safe to negative the reckless personnel decisions and safe play calling that has infected the Raiders.

 

 

 

Ravens versus Raiders: How Oakland wins again

The Silver and Black have the privilege of beating the Baltimore Ravens the past two seasons. That means both teams have plenty of tape on each other. There won’t be a ton of surprises but the Ravens are hungry to avenge the past two narrow defeats. Here is how Oakland can win another close one at home.

Tailor the offense to E.J. Manuel 

Let’s get one thing straight, E.J. Manuel came into a hostile situation and played well last week. This week he should be more mentally and physically prepared to play. Hopefully, his receivers and offensive line won’t live him out to dry this week. 

Still, it would still be a mistake to call the same game plan with Manuel as we would with Derek Carr.

We always here how offensive coordinators tailor their game plans to the personel, but now is the time to see it. I’d love to see Oakland experiment with some zone reads to neutralize their inconsistent tackle play as well as the over aggressive edges on the Ravens. The Raiders should sprinkle in some reverses, shovel screens and jet sweeps to keep Baltimore’s run game on its heals. They probably load the box so it would be awesome to hit on a big play that they do not expect. 

In the passing game, the Raiders should start with some screen passes to Amari Cooper. Cooper desperately needs some confidence and this might help the Raiders take the top off the defense later. Oakland should also call their backs out for routes a lot too. Between Jamize Olawale, Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, the Raiders have plenty of good pass catchers out of the backfield. Manuel should throw to these guys early so he can gain some confidence. Let’s see what they can do in space.

Give the TEs the ball

Baltimore’s biggest liability is their safeties. Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson are known playmakers but they’ll fail on gambles too. Oakland should rely on their tight ends as big targets with the catch radius to make plays for Manuel’s passes. 

Clive Walford should get a bigger opportunity with some three and four tight end sets. These sets are good for establishing the run, protecting the QB and getting mismatched with the plat action pass. Don’t forget Manuel has a rapport with Lee Smith from Buffalo. He should see some opportunities to move the chains. 

Create turnovers 

If your defense is creating turnovers, they’re not giving up points. Our defense reminded us of that last week by keeping the Broncos from putting up points in the second half. They found ways to keep the game close. Oakland needs to do that again this week.

Last season, Bruce Irvin came up with the strip-sack fumble that turned the game for the Raiders. Who will do it in Oaklan this year? 

Jor Flacco will take chances as he’s shown over his career. Even if their offense is more run focused with a back by committee situation, Baltimore is able to hit big plays with their receivers. This could be the game Jeremy Maclin or Mike Wallace gets off this season. Both players have burnt the Raiders at times. 

The defense needs to bend and not bold. Find ways to make plays and get off the field. You know the stereotypical things defenses do. That gives Manuel and the offense a chance to win the game.

Raiders Versus Broncos: How to win Week Four

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure why the Raiders and Redskins were in prime time. I didn’t think it would be a competitive game other than it pitting the Racists versus the Renegades (I’m talking team images of course).

Either way, the country watched as our Silver and Black got smoked mostly due to Derek Carr deflating our team’s offense from the get-go. A fact that Carr has even admitted.

Nonetheless, the Raiders must rebound versus a division opponent. Here is how the Raiders can beat Denver on the road.

Forget last week’s loss

All season long, I’ve talked about the Raiders building a championship winning attitude. Part of that attitude includes responding to the adversity that comes with a big loss. Not to get all football cliche, but Oakland needs to move on from last week’s loss. The worst thing they can do is have a hangover from the blowout loss last week.

Oakland’s receivers especially need to have a bounce back game. It is no secret that the Raiders receivers struggle with physical corners. Josh Norman proved that last week and the Denver Broncos proved that twice last year. Now, the Silver and Black get another physical test versus the best corners group in the league.

The great thing about playing receiver, it only takes one big play to re-gain your confidence. If Carr can connect with Cooper or Crabtree for a big gain, that could be the confidence booster to put this team back in rythme.

Otherwise, the offensive line had their worst game in a few seasons. The Raiders got exposed on national TV and they haven’t been all that great at tackle this year. Some of that falls on the team adapting to Donald Penn holding out. However, the offensive line will continue getting better as the season goes on, especially in the run game. Still, the line has to get it together since they’re facing Von Miller this week.

Khalil Mack’s breakout game

Don’t get me wrong, Khalil Mack has done his thing this season. He’s impacted games even if his stats aren’t stuffed.

Nonetheless, the Raiders defensive line is incredibly mediocre. They’ll rely on Mack to take over the game versus former Raiders tackle Menelik Watson. Expect the reigning defensive player of the year to get a couple of sacks and a turnover. Hopefully, Mack’s presense trickles to the rest of the defensive line. Oakland desperately needs a Bruce Irvin sighting. Ideally, one of the defensive tackles should break out if our Edge players can make some plays too.

Stick to the formula

I’ve already touched on this, but it is that important. The Raiders do not need to change their gameplan. It is simple. Take some shots to get a lead. Run the ball to kill the clock. Give your defense a lead so they can take some chances and get some turnovers. That plan should not change after a fat L last week.

Ultimately, we will learn a lot about our Raiders this week. It is our first AFC West opponent and the Broncos are playing better than people expected. This physical divisional game should let us know if the Raiders are a real contender. Can they beat a tough opponent that their familiar with on the road?

Moreover, how will the Raiders answer after a big loss. This team is more experienced and has more swagger than they have in almost a decade. Will that be lost after one big loss? The answer better be no. The Silver and Black must stay swaggy and confident if they want to beat Denver and continue on their Super Bowl quest.

 

How the Raiders can scrape the Jets

As someone who has written a lot of sports headlines, I usually reserve scraps for the worst of the beatings. The Raiders have a good chance at applying that sort of beating on the Jets today. New York is clearly tanking and rebuilding while the Raiders have Super Bowl aspirations. Still, Oakland has to take care of business. How can the Silver and Black give their home crowd a victory? 

Apply pressure 

Can you name a Jets offensive lineman? Exactly.

The Raiders defensive line looked good against a great Titans offensive line. This young group did a good job of holding the line of scrimmage and getting off the ball. 

However, they need to finish on the quarterback this week. The Jets have the offensive line and quarterback that should give Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack a chance at multiple sacks. I’d love to see one of the defensive tackles cement themselves as the starter. The Raiders kept a steady rotation last week but that should tight up as the season moves along. 

Eddie Vanderdoes looked good but he still has a lot to work on in terms of his pad level, hands and play recognition. Jelly Bean Ellis also played well. It looks like he’s finally in shape. Mario Edwards Jr. seemed like he’s fully recovered from last year’s injury. Either way, the starting DTs will be critical moving forward. Hopefully, they can get some pressure,

Protect Derek Carr

For all the things that the Jets lack, they don’t lack a strong defensive line. Between Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, the Raiders offensive line faces a great test in run and pass assignments.

Last week, the Raiders offensive line played really well in the run game. They held double teams well and got up to backer which helped out Marshawn Lynch a lot. 

Still, Oakland had a few lapses in pass protection. Overall, they played well in blitz pickup but there were some stunts that caught the Raiders slipping.

This week, I expect New York to revisit some of this stunt and twists. The Jets use a 3-4 defense like the Titans so New York will also try to create some confusing blitzes. Additionally, the Jets should use their safeties in run support as well as blitzes. Oakland can’t let these safety looks confuse them. They’ve got to protect the QB no matter where the blitzes come from.

Winning mentality

Again, the Raiders Xs and Os aren’t going to change much from week to week. Nonetheless, the Raiders need to enter this game the same way as if the Jets were relevant. It’s the home opener and Oakland deserves to see an ass whooping considering the team will leave in plus or minus three years.

Hence, Oakland can’t come out slow or soft cause the Jets are sorry. This is the type of game that can help the Silver and Black build momentum. It is the type of game that will haunt them in playoff positioning if they are upset. This is the biggest favorite the Raiders have had in a long time. It’s up to them to have that winning mentality that exceeds those high expectations.

Gareon Conley Update

Hooray! Gareon Conley was not indicted on rape or sexual assault accusations. It was all smiles from GM Reggie McKenzie as he was asked about the news. His first round pick agreed to a contract with the team after the legal issue was resolved.

After the Raiders selected Conley in NFL Draft, I wrote a piece that said this entire situation should make Raiders fans uncomfortable. Of course, Conley was always innocent until proven guilty but this entire ordeal perpetuated the Raiders stereotype for drafting players with questionable character. Granted, this has changed over the past few years but that was the mainstream perspective.

On a deeper level, we can’t act like this did not happen either. At the very least, Conley is guilty of bad judgment. All accounts say that he is a great guy with great character but he allowed himself to be put in that situation. Hopefully, this is one small blemish on a perfect public persona. Conley should learn not to trust everyone or every situation. Otherwise, another mess up could completely destroy his public image.

At the end of the day, this is a very sensitive matter. Conley could easily be our brother, best friend or son. The same is said for the woman who accused him. She could be our daughter, bestie or sister. Either way, we wouldn’t want someone close to us to be on either side of the spectrum. Conley will lose the benefit of the doubt due to these false accusations. The woman will receive all types of threats and hate for these accusations.

Ultimately, this woman needs help if she made up these accusations. IF something did happen, even if the court dismissed any illegal mishappenings, she still needs help and support. Conley will need some help with his image but good football play will overcome these dismissed accusations. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger. And if Conley did get off on something than he may need help  too.

Nonetheless, it is great that this ugly chapter is finally behind Conley, the Raiders and us. We can all stop talking about this and allow the two young people to continue their lives. Hopefully, they can both recovery from this situation.

 

Cash Carr: Derek is worth the fat extension

Forget the yards per attempt. Forget the happy feet in the pocket and the leg injury. Derek Carr is worth every penny and he hasn’t won the Raiders a championship or NFL MVP, yet. Carr and the Raiders seemed poised for both until Trent Cole sacked the Raiders QB and ended hopes for either.

But this 5-year, $125 million extension isn’t about Carr’s past. It isn’t about Carr being the Raiders most stable quarterback since Rich Gannon or the most promising prospect since Kenny Stabler. It isn’t about Carr’s comeback wins or low interception rates. It isn’t even about the viable comparisons to Aaron Rodgers.

This extension is about Carr’s future as the unquestioned face of the Raiders franchise. I know he will share that title with Khalil Mack for most of their careers, but Carr plays the position that touches the ball the most. He will be a Raider until 2022 which means he will lead the team to their relocation to Las Vegas.

Carr is already renowned for his community work as well as sharing his beautiful family on social media. Just look at all the respect he got from opposing players and coaches. Todd Gurley and Kyle Long both congratulated him. This is because the California native is the face of the modern Raiders era. He understands what it takes to be an NFL quarterback because he watched his brother flame out but he also understands what it means to be a Raider on the field and the community.

For Raiders fans, we’ve witnessed Andrew Walters, Aaron Brooks, Dante Culpepper, Jamarcus Russell and so many other QBs who were not worthy of the Silver and Black. On countless Sundays, we watched the most important position let us down. For decades, we cringed as QBs couldn’t keep us in games or bring us back. Therefore, you can’t put a price on the intangibles that Derek Carr brings.

Many people have called this one of the best days in Raiders history. Many have broken down the contract and found that it is a fair deal for many. In fact, Carr might not even be the highest paid player for much longer if Kirk Cousins cashes out.

Either way, Carr is worth every penny. You can dive into the stats like everyone else. However, every Raiders fan can tell you he is worth it. You can’t put a price on feeling like your team has a chance against anyone. You can’t put a pricetag on knowing that your team is never really out of a game. This is the effect that Carr has on the Raiders and it is a wonder that he fell into the second-round.

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie understands how lucky he was that  Carr turned out alright on and off the field. Like Raiders fans, he does not take that for granted. He locked up Carr and now it is time for the Raiders QB to deliver on his side of the bargain with an NFL MVP and Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, props to McKenzie and Carr for getting the deal done before we all sweated about it into the season. This is how contract negotiations should go on both sides. Teams should play their players and good players should want to stay with great franchises. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Carr has been a textbook franchise quarterback since he landed in Oakland.

God Bless DC and the Raiders. Just Spend Baby!