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Raiders Rants: Cordarrelle Patterson, Marshall Newhouse and More

The Oakland Raiders finally made some Free Agency moves after what seemed like an endless first few day of the new NFL year.

Most recently, Oakland adds kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. The two-time All-Pro brings the gamechanging and consistent return ability that this team has lacked for years.

More importantly, it is a two-year deal with a team option for the second year. Reggie McKenzie strikes again with a bargain free agent.

Besides the return game, Patterson could have ability to challenge Seth Roberts in the slot receiver position. First, Patterson will need to work on his concentratrion on catches and refine his route tree.

At the very least, Patterson brings the 4.42 speed that late owner Al Davis would’ve have drooled on. Thus, Patterson can serve as a fourth receiver to stretch the field via vertical passes. Essentially, this assumes Andre Holmes’ role in the offense over the past two seasons.

Patterson is also a former Tennessee Volunteer which RM loves.

Not to mention, the Raiders signed Marshall Newhouse over the weekend. He wasn’t a highly coveted free agent but he is a solid depth veteran on a cheap contract. Apparently, McKenzie helped evaluate Newhouse when he was in Green Bay.

Either way, I’d expect the Raiders to add a tackle in the draft since Menelik Watson bounced. Oakland needs help as Donald Penn is aging and Austin Howard has been inconsistence.

Speaking of players leaving, Malcolm Smith, D.J. Hayden, Stacy McGee and Nate Allen are among key players not returning to the team. Those guys all played hard for the Silver and Black, so I wish them luck. 

All of those players can easily be upgraded, but it should be noted that teams wasted no time signing them. Clearly, they saw something that the Raiders did when they added them.

Hayden might actually do well with the Detroit Lions. He’ll have way less pressure there. Meanwhile, McGee and Watson will have to live up to their new starting expectations. Khalil Mack should be happy that Watson is in Denver now. That should equal more sacks.

As for Allen and Smith, neither lived up to the 2015 free agency hype. However, they were both constant pros who made plays at times. Not to mention, they helped change the Raiders’ losing culture. Hopefully, they can pull it together and remain solid NFL players.

Moving forward, the Raiders still have massive needs in the middle of their defense. Key targets like Dontari Poe and Johnathan Hankins should be on the Raiders’ priority list. Especially when you consider this DT draft class is not as good as last year.

At middle linebacker, this draft class is deep. The Raiders could draft a player here in the top of they draft. Either way, they should still add a savy veteran. Luckily, Donta Hightower, Perry Riley and Zachary Brown are all available. They’re the top players at the position. They have a ton of experience and they are all on the right side of 30. Considering all three are available, Oakland should be able to get whichever one they want. I’d expect Riley is the first priority since he joined the team last year. Then again, wouldn’t they have already signed him?

Nonetheless, stay posted for more Raiders free agency updates.

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Oakland Raiders Quarter Season Awards for 2016

Four games down and 12 remaining for the Oakland Raiders. Look at the good and bad from the Silver and Black’s 2016 season, with a quarter completed.

MVP: Derek Carr

Nine touchdowns and one interception. Don’t forget the game winning drives in the fourth quarter versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Derek Carr has lead the team to their best start since 2002, the same year quarterback Rich Gannon won league MVP.

It is no coincidence. He earned his ranking as the top-rated quarterback according to Pro Football Focus. FurtherCarr is taking that next step as he is finishing drives in the endzone and he has become reliable in the clutch.

As long as the Raiders have Carr, they can finally compete with the best teams in the league. He is a natural athlete and leader, which make this MVP campaign real.

Comeback Player: D.J. Hayden

It is not often that a player who started the year before wins comeback player of the year. Considering he ended last season in the coaches’ and fans’ doghouse, corner D.J. Hayden deserves whatever extra credit he can win.

Yes, he has gotten beat. Yes, he has not been perfect. However, he has made plays that he did not in prior years. Hayden has shown ability as a pure tackler in the slot. He even broke up some passes last week.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has complimented his play multiple times in the season. David Amerson has said the sky is the limit for the young player. Hayden himself expects to continue building on the first quarter via CSN Bay AreaLook for Hayden to keep getting better with the entire team. The 2013 first round pick already climbed into the top 50 corners via PFF.

Best Newcomer: Cory James 

The Raiders are relying on lots of newcomers this season. We will limit it to rookies considering the high-profile free agents signed by Oakland.

Rookie runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have both sparked the ground game. Vandal Alexander has filled in nicely at tackle. Korey Joseph has made plays in the secondary.

Nonetheless, linebacker Cory James wins the award after coming out of nowhere. Dude was selected as a glorified special teams player but has made two starts, recorded 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He’s been all over the field and has helped the team communicate.

James is far from perfect, but he is playing better than Ben Heeney. Even his defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said the team would be better if they had a bunch of players like him. Imagine where Oakland would be without him.

Best Playmaker: Michael Crabtree

Receiver Michael Crabtree has four touchdown receptions. He put the team on his back last week with three touchdowns. The receiver is on pace for 1236 yards and sixteen touchdowns. Crabtree also caught the game-winning, two-point conversion in Week 1.

Consistently, Carr looks for Crabtree in clutch third downs and in the redzone. The two players have developed chemistry in their second year. Yes, Amari Cooper is the x-factor thanks to his big plays. However, Crabtree is the player we need to keep drives alive.

Added, Bruce Irvin could claim this award. He has two strip sacks that changed the momentum versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, we can’t reward a player that on one of the league’s worst defenses.

Biggest Bust: Dan Williams

Speaking of the defense, it gave up historically bad numbers in the first two weeks. Some may say it was because Dan Williams did not play. He only played 24 percent of last week’s snaps too.

Remember, Williams came into training camp out of shape. Last season, he was one of the better players on defense. Still, the team has not stopped the run and that starts at the nose tackle position. Their 5.1 yards per carry is the worst in the league, and their 134.5 yards per game is the second worst. Even with Williams on the field, the team is not playing much better. Nor has he earned more time thanks to his pass rushing ability.

It pains me to say it because Williams’ story about joining the Raiders is one of my favorite. Either way, he can and needs to play better.

All of these awards could easily change, because there are a ton of games remaining. Keep watching to see how the Raiders do.

Oakland Raiders: Turn up or Turn Down from Week 4

The Oakland Raiders secured their third road victory of the 2016 season via a defeat of the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens. Here are more lessons from the 28-27 victory.

Turn Up: 3-1 overall record for the 2016 season.

Forget the fact that Oakland won all three games by a single score. The Raiders have their best start since 2002, the same year they won the AFC title.  Not to mention, the team seems poised for their first winning season since that year. That all sounds like  cause for celebrations.

Turn up: The Special Teams

Marquette King registered the best-graded game ever rated by Pro Football Focus. Jalen Richard also added a 47-yard punt return. Special teams really gave the Raiders an edge in the one-point contest versus the Ravens. Especially when Devin Hester sparked his team with a few nice returns, the Silver and Black needed to execute on special teams.

That is exactly what head coach Jack Del Rio said in Monday’s press conference.

“All three phases playing complementary football, impacting the game, and it’s about us and our team, and what we’re able to do when those three phases work together like that. That’s a great example of it.” Del Rio said.

Let’s see more sparks via corner punts and long returns as the season continues.

Turn Down: The talks about an elite offense

Oakland played an efficient game on offense. Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes and went 25 of 35 for 199 yards. The leading rusher was DeAndre Washington with 30 yards on five carries. Plus, the unit only converted a quarter of their third down attempts.

Obviously, the Silver and Black will take the win. However, we need to see more from the rushing attack before this unit becomes elite. An example of this includes Baltimore winning the time of possession category by more than 9 minutes. It could help not having a rookie like Vandal Alexander at right tackle. Some of his penalties killed the team. An improved rushing attack also makes for more easily managed third downs.

Either way, Oakland still ranks in the top 10 as far as offensive averages for rushing and passing. They just need a little better execution to become an elite unit.

Turn Down: Defensive hype

 

Yes, the Raiders defense came up with a four-and-out stop in the final two minutes before winning on the road. Yes, Bruce Irvin got a strip-sack and Khalil Mack got his first sack of the year in the fourth quarter. Plus, the team pressured Joe Flacco all day.

However, Ravens running back slashed through the Raiders defense for 113 yards on 21 carries. Joe Flacco also got 298 yards, even if it took him more than 50 attempts. Also, 37-year-old Steve Smith caught 8 balls for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.

Clearly, Oakland has a long way to go before the unit is actually good. They still rank last in total yards and average per pass. They are also second to last in opponent rushing yards per game.

It is great that the Silver and Black can rely on their team to make plays when it matters. Nonetheless, it would be great if they made plays through the entire game.

Turn Down: The Penalties

Overall, the Raiders have had too many penalties. They are No. 1 in offensive penalties with 43. They are in the top-five as far as defensive penalties too.

The margin for error is so low in the NFL. Oakland can not keep winning these one score games if they consistently lead in the penalty category.

Blame it on the Raiders-bias if you want. However, the Raiders need to look themselves in the mirror and execute better. This is especially true for an offensive line that is too good for holding calls and false starts.

Turn Up: D.J. Hayden in the nickel corner.

Hayden played 70 percent of the team’s snaps despite not starting in the base defense. He made six tackles and defensed one pass. Not to mention, he made some hits.

We’ve grown so much, man,” Hayden said. “As far as our execution; we’re playing smarter. We’re just out there playing. We’re not thinking, we’re just reacting.”

Considering how many fans were ready to write him off, we should definitely celebrate that Hayden is coming into his own  via the inside corner spot.

 

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints: Monday Morning Takeaways

Here are five lessons from the Oakland Raiders 35-34 defeat of the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 11.

The secondary needs work

Usually, you do not take much away from preseason football. However, the Raiders secondary showed signs of struggling during the exhibitions. This carried into the week one game with the Saints.

D.J. Hayden had some crucial penalties that kept some drives alive in the second-half. Willie Snead also got the best of Hayden from the slot.

Plus, Sean Smith got dusted for a 98-yard touchdown catch.

Even before that big play, Smith took his lumps against the New Orleans receivers.

Saints receivers Brandin Cooks and Snead both made plays. Snead registered 172 receiving yards, while Cooks got 143 yards.

That is way too many yards for a secondary group that was suppose to improve exponentially. The group may need more time playing together. However, the pass rush may also need to step their game up. Quarterback Drew Brees was only sacked one time.

The run defense?

Honestly, the New Orleans Saints got away from the run too early. Otherwise, maybe Oakland made some adjustments.

Either way, the Saints made some effective running plays in the first-half. Mark Ingrim dragged some defenders. However, that was not the case in the second-half. Not sure if that is attributed to an Oakland adjustment or if the Saints just liked what they were getting in pass coverage.

Ultimately, our run defense did some and bad. Inside linebacker Ben Heeney played his usual game. He did some good things, but struggled taking on linemen. Our defensive line played well versus the run in the second half. They also got drove back a few times.

Nonetheless, I need to see more from this group to determine how they will play.

Raiders are deep on the offensive line

Oakland had both of their right offensive tackles, Menelik Watson and Matt McCants go down versus the Saints. This is after they lost Austin Howard last week.

The team shuffled the line by moving Donald Penn from left tackle to right tackle. Meanwhile, Kelechi Osemele played left tackle and Jon Feliciano came in at right tackle.

This mismatched group did not prevent the Raiders from moving the ball via the run or pass. Clearly, this group is much improved from top to bottom. Hopefully, Oakland can get those guys back healthy.

Oakland plays to win

When was the last time Oakland started the season 1-0? More importantly, when was the last time you really thought the team could come back in a game that was a shootout?

Despite Oakland trailing in the second-half, you never felt like the game was out of reach. Further, the Raiders went to go and get the win.

They scored on the go ahead two-point conversion thanks to quarterback Derek Carr leading the drive.

Carr matured in yesterday’s game. He proved capable of leading a game-winning drive, and he did not play outsde of his normal abilitites. His decision-making seemed a little late, but Carr’s competitive toughness should never be questioned. Carr reminded us that, yesterday.

Oakland is deep at the skill position

The Silver and Blacked proved their offense can play with the best of them. Not only by the last-minute score, but Oakland played well throughout.

Eight different players caught passes and six players got rushing attempts. This shows Oakland’s depth and it illustrates a regime willing to utilize different players in positions that help the team.

Taiwan Jones, Seth Roberts, Clive Walford and Jamize Olawale made plays that kept the offense on the field. Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree all played their roles outstanding. Therefore, the Raiders have a group on offense.

Othere defenses should be scared as everyone will continue meshing together.

 

 

 

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints: First Half Notes

The Oakland Raiders took on the New Orleans Saints for the first game of the season. The Saints lead 17-10 at home.

DEFENSE:

  • Bruce Irvin sacked and forced a fumble on Drew Brees which ends first drive. Leads to first points of the season off of Sebastian Janikowski kick.
  • Mark Ingrim gets 12 and 20-yard gains for Saints on the second series. Saints held to a field goal, which ties game at three all.
  • Tim Hightower gets run going again later in first. Willie Snead tears apart Raiders. Snead Catches a deep ball that puts them in the red zone. He then catches short fourth and goal touchdown pass to make game 10-10.
  • Saints go up 17-10 in second quarter thanks to Brandin  Cooks touchdown pass. He beat D.J. Hayden in coverage. Sean Smith also gave up the crucial play that put Saints inside the red zone. Michael Thomas catches a pass, then registers some yards after the catch.
  • D.J. Hayden gets defensive holding call that negates Bruce Irvin sack. Luckily, Raiders defense forces punt with a little more than a minute left in first half.

OFFENSE:

  • Latavius Murray gets the Raiders first touchdown of the year via an 11-yard run thanks to an Amari Cooper sprawling catch which put Raiders at the five-yard-line. It was Cooper’s second catch on the drive. Oakland goes up 10-3.
  • Jalen Richard made his first appearance with a catch in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Taiwan Jones loses eight yards on a carry later in the first half.
  • Derek Carr shows his scrambling ability in second quarter. Makes first down run and leaps for extra yards. However, this drive did not lead to points.
  • Menelik Watson goes down during Raiders final drive with about a minute left in the second quarter. He walks off the field on his own, but it looked like an ankle injury.
  • Cooper catches the final pass of the half via a hitch route.

Oakland must try to stop the run on defense. Hightower and Ingrim were having their way. On offense, look for Oakland to continue establishing the run. Hopefully, Watson’s injury is not serious. Backup right tackle Austin Howard got hurt last week, so he is inactive.

Raiders Rants: D.J. Hayden, Mario Edwards, Karl Joseph, Matt McGloin & more

The Oakland Raiders finished minicamp a couple of weeks ago. Here is my take on the biggest headlines since then.

Matt McGloin

Raiders QB Matt McGloin started minicamp as the No. 3 quarterback, behind Connor Cook.

My Take: It should not come as a surprise. McGloin was drafted by the previous regime. He is a game manager at best. Let’s see what we got in Cook. All reports indicate he looks good.

Karl Joseph

  • Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this secondary is more talented than last season’s crop.
  • Norton Jr. said Raiders rookie Karl Joseph is a stick of dynamite, because of his explosiveness via film.

My Take: Norton Jr.’s comments are in line with what everyone has said about the Raiders secondary. However, they need to get healthy. We gotta see it on the field, because they haven’t played together yet due to injuries.

D.J. Hayden

Speaking of the Raiders secondary, head coach Jack Del Rio said D.J. Hayden had a good spring. He said he was excited about Hayden’s development.

My Take: I’ve made it a point to defend Hayden. I’m glad the Raiders are doing so as well. It is clear he will have the first shot at winning the slot corner position.

Max McCaffrey

My Take: Max McCaffrey made a name for himself this spring. That is a lot considering he is the son of a Broncos great and brother to a Stanford great. McCaffrey should be one of the leads to breakout as an UDFA this year. Think Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, and Rod Streater mold.

Read more on dude here.

Pro Football Focus

  • The popular stats website graded Khalil Mack as the No. 6 overall player in the league.
  • Other Raiders like Amari Cooper and Derek Carr also made the list.

My Take: Shout out to the Raiders finally catching some respect.

Kick Returners

  • Apparently, the Raiders will keep the status quo at the returner positions.
  • T.J. Carrie is expected to keep his job as the punt returner, while Taiwan Jones will return kickoffs.

My Take: No surprise here. Both Jones and Carrie could see reduced roles at their normal positions. Carrie is no longer a starter at CB and Jones could lose his spot as RB No. 2. Both dudes are athletes who should make great contributions on special teams still.

Mario Edwards Jr.

Mario Edwards participated in minicamp. His status was questionable with an undisclosed neck injury.

My Take: Good for Edwards. He should breakout with more talent around him on defense. He balled as a rookie, until injuries cut his season short.

 

 

 

 

Reaction to Raiders’ first official depth chart

Depth Chart via Raiders.com.

Depth Chart via Raiders.com.

The Oakland Raiders released their first depth chart, Aug. 10. Headlining some of the surprises are some position changes and incumbents who have fallen behind because of injuries.

Khalil Mack shocked a lot of people, because he is listed as DE. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the team, because they have been adamant about him rushing the passer. My worries are about his long-term development. How many times did Jacksonville need a DE when JDR was head coach there?

Speaking of high draft-picks. D.J. Hayden claimed his rightful spot a top the depth chart. Then again, it shouldn’t be an accomplishment for the player drafted No. 12 in 2013. Moreover, it is a testament to the lack of talent the Raiders have at the position. Regardless, Hayden has displayed the right mentality so far in the offseason. Hayden said he plans to play all-out, without worrying about mistakes.

Then there were the snubbs. Rod Streater has yet to practice in training camp, so it is no surprise he has fallen behind. The Raiders have signed lots of competition at the position. Streater has the versatility to reclaim the spot, however, the coaching staff needs to see it.

Other injured players tumbling include Sio Moore. He is listed as a Will linebacker on the depth chart. The Will and Sam have some slightly different specifics, but I think Moore is better fitted at the Sam. Either way, he faces a tough challenge getting back into the starter role. Ray-Ray Armstrong has the coaching staff praising him constantly. Then there is the starting Will, former Super Bowl MVP, former Trojan and Seahawk Malcolm Smith. Smith’s versatility in coverage better suits the other two linebackers. Plus, Ken Norton Jr. is familiar with him from Seattle.

How about the Raiders other top position battles?

Well, the right tackle position has pretty much been Menelik Watson’s to lose. The former second round pick is listed as the starter, despite missing some time. Austin Howard and his $6 million dollars who? The tight end position will probably be an on-going one, throughout the season.

Mychael Rivera is listed as a No. 2, despite media praising him as a camp stand-out. His chemistry with Derek Carr gives him an advantage over the rookie third round pick Clive Watford. However, Lee Smith is the one getting the nod for the first pre-season bout. The primary blocker listed as a starter probably has more to do with the offense’s commitment to running the ball then anything else.

Remember Trent Richardson? Vic Tafur said his chances of making the team were 50/50, but I would put them higher. Helu is currently listed as the No. 2 runner behind Latavius Murray. However, Helu is primarily a receiving back. With Marcel Reece and Rivera taking most of the snaps at H-back, Helu might be repetitive. Maybe, just maybe, Richardson can seize the spot. The slimmed down Richardson has too much potential not to.

Yes, it is only preseason. Lets not read into these too much just yet. Not to be corny, but it is not where you start on the depth chart, but where you finish. The Raiders will sort out their depth chart more in a preseason game against the Rams.