It is pretty easy to list off the reasons why the Oakland Raiders should not keep defensive coördinator Ken Norton Jr. A recent Just Blog Baby article makes a compelling argument for firing Norton Jr.
Additionally, head coach Jack Del Rio called out the defense it in his closing press conference.
“There were far too many explosive plays allowed this year, whether it be run or pass,” Del Rio said. “That’s, you know, that’s an area that must be addressed. That might be the number one thing that we must do better going into 2017.”
Not to mention, the Raiders gave up the most yards per play in the league. They also gave up the 13th most points per game. Oakland ranked No. 4 in penalty yards for defense. The Raiders also gave up the No. 10 most rushing yards per game and the 9th most passing yards per game. They also finished last in the league with 25 sacks.
All that said, Ken Norton Jr. deserves to keep his job for another season.
Placing the blame on him for the poor defensive play is irresponsible. Norton Jr. is merely the figurehead, coordinator and collaborator. He is not out there to execute plays, although he did once roam NFL fields.
Now, let’s look at why Ken Norton Jr. should stay another season in Oakland.
Defense played well in stretches
We all remember the horrible outings versus the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. It has also been cited that the Raiders gave up more points than any other team during the third quarter.
However, the Raiders played well in stretches. Quarterback Derek Carr led many fourth quarter comebacks but the defense put him in a position to do that. The defense clinched victories versus the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Not to mention, the team led the league in turnover differential. That is precisely the culture Norton Jr. was supposed to bring with him from the Seattle Seahawks.
It is not all Ken Norton Jr.’s fault
Ken Norton Jr. earned some criticism for his play calling this season. There were times where he needed to blitz and didn’t. There were other times he made questionable coverage calls.
However, Norton was not out there missing tackles on big plays. He was not out there holding receivers and committing pass interference. That is execution.
Something all the Raiders defenders could have done better.
Not to mention, Jack Del Rio is a defensive mind. Therefore, I’d put some blame on him too. I’m sure Del Rio hired Norton Jr. as a first-time coordinator so the defensive head coach could still have some say in the day-to-day operations of the defense.
I don’t want to overlook the Raiders terrible defensive standings. However, let’s remember this team played with a ton of defensive linemen and linebackers. On-field adjustments are difficult when you go through three starting middle linebackers and play callers via Ben Heeney, Cory James and Pat Riley Jr.
It is hard to do anything when your interior players are either true defensive ends or out of shape. Denico Autry, Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards Jr., Dan Williams, Justin Ellis, Darius Latham, and Stacy McGee all took turns playing injured and inconsistent.
As for coverage, the Raiders lost their nickel corner to injured reserve and went through three starting strong safeties. You can blame play calling for poor coverage assignments, but corners David Amerson and Sean Smith are paid well enough. They should cover anyone via any scheme.
I’m not saying Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t deserve any blame, but he does not deserve all of it. This team featured new starters at both safeties, corner, two linebackers spots and two defensive line positions. Give Norton Jr. a break. These guys should improve with playoff experience and another year in the scheme.
There is no better replacement
Don’t give me your Wade Phillips rumors. No disrespect to him, he is a great football mind.. However, the Raiders need a coördinator who is more connected with their players like Norton Jr.
The only name that might be better is Gus Bradley, who also has a Seahawks pedigree.
Remember, Del Rio has maintained that he is building a winning culture. Part of that culture includes updating the facilities and playing music at practice. Another part of it is winning.
Phillips may know about defense and winning, but they do not know about this new Raiders culture. Del Rio does not need the old heads stepping on his toes.
Further, Norton Jr. and Del Rio played and coached together. Entering a third season with the Raiders, the duo will develop more chemistry and make better adjustments next season.
The team could roll the dice on an internal candidate, but you’re still talking about a team adjusting to a new leader and play caller. Let the defense continue to develop under Norton Jr. in 2017.
The defense will improve in 2017
I get the frustration. The defense did not make a sack in the last three games. They failed to rise to the occasion in the last regular season game versus the Denver Broncos and against the Texans.They also did not recover a couple of fumbles versus Houston.
Plus, the defense did not grow enough in year two of Norton Jr. This is especially true when you factor in offseason additions like draft picks Jihad Ward, Karl Joseph and Cory James and free agents Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson.
Still, championships are not won in free agency. The Raiders should finally address the middle of their defense with the No. 24 pick in the NFL Draft.
Expect them to take a linebacker and/or defensive tackle with the first couple of picks, like I’ve said for three seasons.
Del Rio even admitted that the team did not get enough push in the middle via ESPN. He called out the whole defensive tackle group for not being factors this season.
Therefore, this team will get better when they get some consistency at middle backer and defensive tackle.
Plus, the Raiders should see Aldon Smith finally reinstated. That could allow Bruce Irvin or Khalil Mack to concentrate more on linebacker duties.
Further, Smith’s presence on the edge may slide Jihad Ward or Mario Edwards Jr. into full-time defensive tackle play. Both players could use some bulk to better anchor against the run, but they both have the god-given traits to terrorize guards in a pass rush situation.
Additionally, I expect Joseph and James to improve with another year in the system.
In the end, I believe Ken Norton Jr. deserves some blame for the poor defensive play. However, firing Norton Jr. will not solve all the Raiders problems. Give him one more season so this unit can develop together.
Good teams do not fire their defensive coordinators. The Raiders are finally a perennial playoff team and firing Norton would only set them back.
“We want more,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said at his final press conference of the season. “As an organization, our goals are higher. So, that’s not going to change.”
Del Rio continued to talk about his teams’ good accomplishments. The fact that the team won 12 games, six-games in a row, and made the playoffs.
However, the Raiders leader is right. This team should not be satisified. They were a broken leg to Derek Carr away from at least playing in the divisional round of the playoffs.
So when we look back at the 2016 season, there are no moral victories.
It doesn’t matter that the team averaged more points per game than they have in a decade. It doesn’t matter that Derek Carr was an MVP candidate and his offensive line gave up the least amount of sacks. It doesn’t matter that Marquette King led the league in punts of more than 50 yards, or that the team lead the league in turnover differntial.
All that matters is that this team got bounced in the first round. All that matters is that this team lost a tie for the AFC West due to head to head losses via the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sure, the Raiders have a lot to be proud of. However, they also have a lot to improve. The 2016 season was merely a series of lessons to learn from.
Carr said it himself. The whole team has to work to be better next year. That is the only way they can take the next step as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
If the Wild Card loss to the Texans showed us anything, it proved how valuable a single playoff experience can be to a team. Last season, Houston got spanked by Kansas City in the same round.
Hence, Oakland will benefit from their own whooping on ESPN.
Therefore, I don’t want to hear about brightsides or silver linings. The Raiders are building a winning culture and they can not be satisified with moral victories or advanced statistics.
What is tangible is that the Raiders will be sitting at home next week. They need to remember that and come back for more next season.
Forget, the moral lessons and sports cliches. Oakland must move forward and prepare to win more next season.
Further, it is time for us to expect more from our Raiders. It is time for the Raiders to expect more from themselves.
Only winning matters. No moral victories.
When was the last time the Oakland Raiders played a meaningful game in primetime? When was the last time the Raiders had a legitimate chance to win said game?
Oakland will face the Denver Broncos for this week’s Sunday Night Football action. The Raiders have a real shot at defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions this Sunday. Don’t forget Oakland defeated the Broncos one time last year.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this game. Beyond the typical AFC West rivalry hype, both teams are 6-2. The winner gains access to the driver seat in the division. Here is how the Raiders can live up to their hype.
Control the line of scrimmage
The Raiders top rusher only averages about 46 yards per game. The runner by committee contributes to that mediocrity. However, Oakland needs a big performance from a running back… cough… Latavius Murray.
Oakland needs to control the ball at home. They need to pound away at the Broncos defense. An effective running attack gives Derek Carr managable third downs.
Otherwise, Von Miller as a pass rusher versus the Raiders revolving door at right tackle is too much. Plus, Denver’s starting corners – if Aquib Talib is healthy – are too much for Oakland to throw the ball 60 times.
Not to mention, the Raiders defense ranks towards the bottom in most categories. Therefore, Oakland needs to run the ball so their defense stays off the field.
Start the Carr
Derek Carr is for sure the best quarterback in this game. He may just be the best player on the entire field.
All of this MVP talk is warranted. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a 66 percent completion rate. Not to mention, every Raiders fan has seen Carr lead momentous drives versus the Saints, Buccaneers, Ravens, and every other win.
Carr will need to get the offense started again. He needs a breakout game under the prime lights. That does not necessarily mean he needs to throw for 50 times like he did versus Tampa Bay. However, he needs to throw curcial big plays. He needs to keep drives alive by hitting the check downs. He needs to keep his feet accurate on routine passes and screens. He may also need to scramble for a necessary gain.
Basically, Derek Carr needs to continue his growth as a franchise quarterback versus the Broncos.
Oakland has a top five offense and a bottom five defense. The only way they’ve been able to win games is by creating turnovers.
Last season, neither team scored more than twenty points in either game. Therefore, defense will be critical again.
The Broncos will be without C.J. Anderson. Hence, the Raiders should improve at stopping the run.
That means the Broncos are going to gamble more on longer second and third downs. This translates to more pass rushing opportunities for Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack. It should result for more picks via the secondary.
Ultimately, we know the Broncos can create turnovers. We know their defense is No. 1 against the pass. Can the Raiders hold their own by creating turnovers at home?
P.S. The Raiders are leading the league in penalties by a lot. They’ve been able to win in spite of that. Can the Raiders keep it up? Or will those yards and points left on the field hurt Oakland?
My annual trip to a Raiders game fell on the week of the Chargers.
There’s no better feeling than being amongst the thousands of Raider Nation faithful. Shoutout to all the friendly people who hooked me up with ice, wipes, an oven-glove, and great vibes.
It was a trueky memorable experience and we’re not even talking about the game.
I don’t take the atmosphere of the Black Hole for granted.
The Oakland Raiders secured their best start since 2002 via a 31-34 win over the San Diego Chargers.
After years of interchanging quarterbacks and coaches, let’s not take that for granted.
Oakland is tied for first in the NFL and first in their division.
This isn’t just a paper championship earned via the draft and free agency.
The Raiders finally have a product reflected by their 4-1 record.
Sure, it has not been perfect. Oakland got just enough autumn win for San Diego to muff the snap on a game tying field goal.
Otherwise, the Raiders running game was largely inefficient as it managed less than four yards a carry. They also got torched in the passing game. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams both registered more than 100 passing yards for the Chargers.
Still, the team found a way to win. That’s been the moral of this season. Rather it was on the two-point conversion in New Orleans or the defensive stand versus the Ravens.
It has not always been pretty. The defense ranks towards the bottom and they’re not always efficient on third down, offensively. However, the Raiders continue to win despite not getting much production from their best defensive-line player Khalil Mack, best corner Sean Smith and rotating through tight ends and right tackles.
It is still early in the season, but let’s not take this Raiders team for granted. We must appreciate that this team is finding ways to win when previous teams always found way to lose.
Not to mention, they’re doing it in Oakland -the Mecca for Raider Nation. Despite the city’s inability to find a long-term stadium option, it is important that this team wins for a city that supports them through thick and thin.
Finally, the Silver and Black are rising from the shadows of mediocrity. The media has been noticing, but fans knew this thing was turning around years ago.
Let’s not take our recent success for granted. Enjoy the winning and let’s keep it going versus Kansas City on Sunday at 10:05 p.m.
Just win baby!
Mark Davis did not say a whole lot about the Oakland Raiders possible relocation to Las Vegas.
Davis said Las Vegas is a global city and a NFL market. He also relied on the old cliche when asked about the possible move.
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Davis said.
But can his professional team actually stay in Vegas?
There are a number of ethical concerns about putting a professional team in Las Vegas.
Does a city with a poor economy and bad public schools need a stadium?
Probably not. However, UNLV is already getting a proposed $1 billion stadium. That means Davis and the Raiders only need to show up and pay for relocation fees.
How would the NFL handle sports gambling?
The NFL already excepts money from DFS providers which may or may not be gambling. Ultimately, the public is much more accepting of sports gambling.
It is still unlikely the league would ever endorse Vegas-styled sports gambling. There are ethical concerns like turning basketball players into even more of a commodity. These are men here, and we do not need to bet on them like horses. Plus, there are also valid concerns about players and referees avoiding conflict of interests. We know players already love gambling and Vegas too much.
Could Las Vegas really support a NFL team?
Let’s not forget Las Vegas is a basketball team. UNLV basketball games sellout when the team is good. It is home to the NBA Summer League, USA Basketball Showcases and many preseason games each year.
Hence, the team would have to immerse itself in the community. Luckily, the Raiders do a good job already in blue-collar Oakland. Also, the Raiders California fan-base would make the short drive and plane-rides to neighboring Las Vegas. Those reasons make the Raiders and Las Vegas a nice fit. There is also plenty of cheap rooms for Raidernation to save bucks.
Not to mention, the arena only needs to sellout eight games a year. The Raiders are on the brink of the playoffs and they could attract casual fans outside of their silver and black faithful. Besides, the NFL is so hot that people will want to go to a NFl stadium to be seen. Further, the NFL team would be the only pro sports team in town, which is a draw itself.
Could players succeed in Las Vegas?
Players and fans might worry about that scorching summer heat. However, that does not make players afraid of hot climates like Phoenix, Texas or Florida. Plus, Las Vegas is home to more luxury hotels and clubs than all those places. I am interested if players and owners could deal with that access to alcohol, money and gambling.
In closing, Las Vegas makes a lot of sense for the Raiders. Unlike San Antonio or Portland, Las Vegas has public funds and close proximity to California fans.
A Las Vegas move would be the power move that the Raiders need after rejection from Los Angeles relocation. Not to mention, Mark Davis could do some renegade things by being the first professional sports team in Las Vegas. It is the perfect move to piss off other NFL owners like his pops did many times.
The 4-6 Oakland Raiders are on a three game losing streak.
Before we all freak out, let’s remember this team 0-10 a year ago. Hence, there has been progress.
To keep that progress alive, the Raiders must defeat the Titans on the road.
Here are three ways Oakland can smoke the Titans.
Run the ball
This was a key for last week’s game, but the Raiders failed against the Detroit Lions.
Latavius Murray only racked-up 28 rushing yards against the Lions. The Raiders needed more third and shorts. They needed to control the clock better.
The same goes for this week. Moreover, the Raiders need Murray and the running backs to kill the clock if they get a lead.
The running game will also help neutralize the Titans’ blitz happy defense.
Cooper must show up
Amari Cooper seems to have hit the rookie wall. He’s dropped some balls and has not made the game-changing plays he made earlier in the season.
Last week, Crabtree was the Raiders only reliable target. This week the Raiders will need to get Cooper going early and often.
Throw him some bubble screens to gain some confidence.
Defense must keep contain
This should probably be the No. 1 key for Sunday’s game. The Raiders let Landry Jones, Teddy Bridewater and Matt Stafford embarrass them with their feet.
Now they face rookie Marcus Mariota who is actually a dynamic scrambler.
The Raiders must limit Mariota’s ability to make plays with his feet.
Oakland’s corners already struggle. They will struggle more if Mariota breaks contain and delivers strikes on the run.
Ultimately, the Raiders should win this game.
However, fans know there is no such thing as an easy win with this young football team.
The Oakland Raiders set the stage for a huge road win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Oakland started the game hot by stopping the Steelers’ first drive. Then the Raider offense got the ball and scored on just a few big plays.
The Steelers seemed to strip the ball from the Raiders every chance they got. Many times the Raiders were saved by the balls.
However, they could not help themselves on a few occasions. Latavius Murray put the ball on the grown after a hit which led to a concussion.
Back and forth, the two teams battled and exchanged big hits. Antonio Brown ran rapid in the secondary. He racked 180 yards just before the half. DeAngelo Williams did not allow the Pittsburgh offense to miss a beat without LeVeon Bell. Williams charged for more than 170 yards game.
Even with their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the locker room with an ankle injury, the Steelers seized all the momentum at home.
Eventually, the Raiders found themselves with a 14 point deceit, thanks to a Taiwan Jones fumble after a Steelers touchdown. Oakland seemed headed for a loss.
Then they showed something we have not seen in years. Some belief and playoff fight.
Derek Carr threw seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in the previous two games. Hence, he was due for one.
Nonetheless, he lead a drive that brought the Raiders within a touchdown. Then he helped the team tie the game by throwing another touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with just over a minute left.
It was not enough to win the game. A 50 yard pass to Antonio Brown delivered the dagger by setting up the game-winning field goal.
Regardless, the Raiders have nothing to be ashamed about from the 35-38 loss.
Yes, the defense played terrible. But what did we expect against the high powered Steelers offense?
We knew the Raiders had a terrible secondary. We knew the run defense was inconsistent. We knew the team had a bad history on the road.
What we did not know is if this team had the confidence to fight back.
The Raiders entered a hostile environment and they got hit in the month many times. Unlike years past, the team did not just get up but they struck back.
Of course it would have been great to win the game. But the Raiders are still learning to win.
Oakland is young at key positions including defensive line, corner back, wide receiver, quarterback and running back.
Forget morale victories or excuses. There are no such thing in football, which requires both teams to leave the field battered and bruised. Hence every football team is disappointed when they don’t get a win.
That said, I am still proud of my football team after Sunday’s loss. They battled until the final whistle.
Are they perfect? God no.
But the heart breaker against the Steelers shows Oakland is clearly headed in the right direction. The Raiders showed the competitive fight that you want to see in a young team battling for the AFC Playoffs.
The game is simple. Here are some gameplan elements from the New York Jets win that the Raiders need to keep or get rid of.
- Taiwan Jones… Dude made four guys miss on his way to a 50 yard touchdown reception. Finally, we are seeing the Raiders implement his speed into the offensive game plan. He is the perfect compliment for Latavius Murray’s bruising style.
- Speaking of running backs, the Raiders made a Jets’ top run-defense look silly. In fact, this was the first time in franchise history that the team had 300 yard passer, 100 yard receiver and 100 yard runner twice in the same season. Keep trying to build the offensive gameplan around the running game
- Deep Passes…. You know Al Davis smiled from heaven when the Raiders completed those deep passes. It was great to see Andre Holmes finally put that big body and speed to use. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper might both head for 1,000 yard seasons, but Holmes will be critical if he can develop into that No. 3 target.
- Clive Walford…. Walford made another big play in this game. This time it was a touchdown pass. The Raiders will need him to continue occupying the middle of the field. It should help them proceed pushing deep.
- The Swagger… I get it, the Raiders are relevant for the first time in 13 years. However, keep the humble and quiet swagger. There is no need to shout-out just yet. Let’s keep winning and not get ahead of ourselves.
- There was not much else to throw out. The Raiders basically played a perfect game… Even the secondary found some swagger.
On defense, the Oakland Raiders have not done much well. They have faced plenty of growing pains in a new scheme with a new defensive coordinator. Between Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. leading this group, they should be playing a lot better.
Against the Bengals, Jeremy Hill tore apart the Raiders defense. Versus the Ravens, Joe Flacco looked precise and comfortable. Then against the Browns, Josh McCown kept his team in the game. Even Jay Cutler looked like a good quarterback against the Raiders.
So what has been consistent?
It has not been the passing defense. Everyone knows the Raider can not cover a tight end. Someone on Twitter said they want to be reincarnated as a tight end versus the Raiders, get in line bruh.
Then the secondary has been a mixed back. They make plays but they also make plenty of mistakes.
Here are some more specifics on position grades, after four games played.
Defensive Line: B-
The Raiders defensive line has played respectable. They have not been terrible, but they have not dominated either.
They find ways to create pressure, but not as a unit. To be fair, Aldon Smith just joined the unit. Justin Tuck and Justin Ellis have been on the injury report for a while. Khalil Mack also suffered an injury.
Outside of that, Denico Autry and Stacy McGee proved they are a little more than bums. C.J. Wilson and Mario Edwards should perform better with whatever snaps they get.
Hopefully they can bring it all together before the mid point of the season.
The Raiders made headlines by completely rebuilding their linebacker corps. Gone are starters Miles Burris and Sio Moore from the past regime. Khalil Mack plays defensive end now.
However, the new additions have not been lights out. Ray Ray Armstrong struggled early. He seems to be getting more comfortable, but is he anything more than a depth guy?
Curtis Lofton struggles in pass coverage still. Personally, I would like to see him create some turnovers.
Malcolm Smith has probably been the best in the group. He too struggles in pass coverage though.
As a unit, their best games were probably against the Browns and Bears. Aldon Smith also plays linebacker but he gets a pass as he was a late addition.
The Raiders secondary was mediocre at best. Now, they are mangled and doing their best to stay afloat. D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie both take turns getting picked apart. Charles Woodson and whoever has played in Nate Allen’s void also get beat in coverage.
Kudos to the coaching staff for finding David Amerson, he looks like he can be a contributor.
Nonetheless, the group is banged up. They’ve also saved themselves by creating some crucial turnovers. Against Baltimore and Cleveland, the secondary saved the game with an interception in the final moments.
What do you think about the Raiders defense thus far?
Coincidently, a report from NJ.com said the player had connections with known gang members from Los Angeles, which may or may not have influenced his release.
With the Aaron Hernandez ordeal still in the back of everyone’s minds, teams are weary of players with questionable histories.
Lets make this clear, Jackson has a clean record and no history of crime. Sure he knows some people in gangs, but that does not mean he is affiliated with gangs.
The only thing Jackson is guilty of is being an outspoken media darling wanting a bigger contract. What NFL Wide-Reciever is not guilty of that?
For those unfamiliar with Jackson’s background he comes from Los Angeles and Long Beach Poly High School. Sure he knows gang signs, which NFL and NBA player doesn’t. Gang Signs are thrown up all the time, and that does not mean a gang affiliation so much as means a sign of respect for where he is from.
Added, Jackson does own a record label with questionable affiliations. Which professional athlete isn’t trying to crossover into the music industry which is an industry thirsty for street credibility?
Lastly, growing up in Los Angeles it is almost inevitable knowing people with gang affiliations. Being a prominent athlete does not exclude you from interacting in a gang environment. Especially as an athlete who can not get in trouble, many times you make friendships with gang members because they can protect you from other gangs who have self interest in physical or verbal altercations.
That may not even be the case with Jackson, but either way these gang ties are a non story. What do you think the 3pt sign is that NBA players throw up?
As for the Raiders, adding Jackson almost makes too much sense for it to happen. Jackson is from cali, he played at Cal, and there are even pictures of him at a Raider game as a kid.
The Raiders also have the most salary cap short and long term to give him the deal he desires. There is definitely a need for a true number one WR who can impact games everytime they touch the ball, and Jackson can do that. Matt Schaub needs playmakers around him, and adding Jackson would be a great start, not to mention it adds more flexibility to what the Raiders can do in the Draft.
Maybe he does not fit the squeaky clean mold Reggie McKenzie wants, but he does have a chip on his shoulder which is something that McKenzie values. After being released, Jackson’s asking price should come down, and by the looks of his gang affiliations I do not think he is a fan of the 49ers because of their RED (LOL JK). Plus the oppurtunity to be closer to home and play for a team he probably loved is priceless.
Football wise, Jackson can stretch the field vertically. He is young enough to give the offense an identity it has lacked for years to come. I even thought he was a fit for the Raiders out of the draft, but philly got to him first. Sure he could do more across the middle, but Streater, and Jones are both more than capable slot options. Jackson with the big targets of Rivera, Streater, and Moore are all great weapons’ for Greg Olsen’s arsinal.
Off the field, Jackson’s accomplishments and advocacy have gone unnoticed. He is a force in his community and speaks out against bullying. That is a message he could bring to the Bay Area as well as his exciting play on the field.