What we want to see versus the Bengals

The Raiders whooped the Bolts butt and it was amazing. I got to witness the greatness of the Raiders in its native home one last time. Shoutout to the Sacramento butcher who hooked it up with a nice cowboy steak. Also shout out to the dude who stole our compact toll box grill. The compact size was incredibly crucial for this quick turnaround. That is the last ride I guess for the limited edition grill.

Well it is on to the Cincinnati Bengals. A team the Raiders have always had weird ties to. The Bengals are currently headed towards a massive rebuild. Here’s what we want to see as we look to look for as we head to the playoffs.

Can the defensive line keep up the pressure?

Last Week, Clelin Ferrell had his break out game with 2.5 sacks versus the Chargers. A couple of those were discounted sacks due to Philip Rivers holding the ball too long. The Chargers O-line is also pretty bad versus any kind of speed.

All well, we will take it. the Raiders young defensive ends needed that confidence booster at home versus a rival and they should build on that versus the Bengals. They’ll be playing with a young quarterback Ryan Finley and down key players like AJ Green who have been hurt all season.

Hence, the Raiders should get another really strong performance versus the Bengals. Cincinnati also happens to be Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s previous team.

Maintain Offensive Momentum

When I said other key players from years past I meant corner Dre Kirkpatrick who is also missing most of this season. The Bengals defense is already in a transition year with other key players missing time too.

That puts the pressure on the Raiders to score. Let’s see Oakland score early and often. Give Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams some load management. They’ve been battling various injuries that need rest and there is no need to kill yourself versus the winless Bengals.

Oakland should use Jacobs to establish themselves early then take their shots with Tyrell and company. I want to see Zay Jones make an impact today too versus the Bengals. Derek Carr should dominate and spread the ball around.

The Replacements

Oakland’s safety has been fluid for a few seasons now. They lost Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner who were their best players and veteran leaders. They signed edge Dion Jordan and safety DJ Swearinger to help out. Swearinger should see some time but who knows. Erik Harris played the best game of his career and Curtis Riley has played and started for the Giants before playing in spots this season. Opportunities are limited there for Swearinger.

I’m most excited for Jordan because he has the highest ceiling. His tools are something you can’t teach and he flashed two seasons ago with the Seahawks. The Raiders have plenty of solid guys who can play but they need a specimen like Jordan who can win 1-on-1 pass rush on the edge, even if it is only in spots.

Ultimately, the Raiders need to handle their business as the football cliche goes. They need to build on the last game’s big performance, dominate early and lean on some lesser known characters to send the Bengals home one loss closer to the No. 1 overall pick.

Oakland Raiders: Keys to beating the Carolina Panthers

Last week, the Oakland Raiders nearly suffered a letdown. The Houston Texans led throughout the Monday Night Football matchup in Mexico City.

However, the Raiders found a way to win.

This week, the Raiders can not rely on the same heroics. Despite their record, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (4-6) still have the reigning MVP, big receivers and a scary defensive line. Don’t forget Oakland’s only two losses this season came at home. Hence, this could combine for a huge Panthers’ road victory over the Raiders.

Here is the formula which should help Oakland protect their home-field

1) Pound the football

Oakland made their running backs relevant via pass attempts. Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard both caught touchdown passes and Latavius Murray caught five passes for 59 yards.

Otherwise, Oakland only rushed for 30 yards on 20 carries. The Texans owned them in time of possession by more than 13 minutes.

Hence, Oakland must bounce back this week. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, and they face a great Carolina defensive line that is deep. It should be fun watching Kelechi Osemele and Kawann Short battle in the middle. Hopefully, the Raiders can take advantage of their versatility at the running back position with Murray, Richard and company.

Plus, Carolina will be without their all-pro run linebacker Luke Kuechly. This should open up some running lanes for the Raiders.

Expect them to get back to the ground game against the Panthers. This is the easiest way to limit Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s impact on the game.

2) Pressure Cam Newton

Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack enters this game with a chance to get a sack in his sixth consecutive game. However, it won’t be easy against the forever mobile Newton.

Thus, it will be on the entire defensive line to contain Newton. It is well documented that Newton has problems with the way he is hit on the run and in the pocket. Therefore, Oakland must get into his head by pressuring and hitting him in legal ways. This will keep the Panthers’ rushing and passing attack out of rhythm.

Further, the Raiders must stay in their passing lines. Newton can extend plays with his feet, so the Raiders must not let him run around. The Raiders secondary makes too many mistakes, and the Panthers receivers are too big and fast. It could spell disaster if the Raiders do not pressure Newton and keep contain.

Granted, that is easier said than done.

3) Secondary must improve

The Carolina secondary has not been the same since losing Josh Norman to free agency. Therefore, the deep group of Oakland receivers should exploit the Carolina corners.

However, the Panthers could make this a shootout. We know the Raiders secondary makes mistakes via penalties and big plays. This week, they matchup well against the big-bodied receivers in Carolina. Raiders corners Sean Smith and David Amerson are just as big and skilled as Panthers receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Tedd Ginn Jr.

Hence, the Oakland secondary must improve. D.J. Hayden, Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson, Malcolm Smith, and Perry Riley could all see matchups versus tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is one of the best in the NFL.

Oakland can not let the Panthers keep this game close by giving up big plays in the passing game. No mistakes this week, guys!

The Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers play at 1:25 p.m. PST.

Oakland Raiders: Midseason Awards

The Oakland Raiders (7-2) entered their bye week with a first place spot in the AFC West, fresh off a win over their AFC West rival the Denver Broncos.

It was a long week for Raiders Nation. Besides not having a game last week, they watched as the Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos both escaped with narrow victories.

Nonetheless, the Raiders have a lot to celebrate over the first half of their season. Headed into a Monday Night Football game versus the Houston Texans in Mexico City, it is time to hand out some awards.

Unlike other Midseason Awards, I will not keep this team specific. The Raiders are on the national stage and their players deserve consideration for NFL recognition.

MVP: Derek Carr

The Raiders are tied for the best record in the AFC West, and Derek Carr deserves a lot of credit. He led game-winning drives against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. He also helped the team close out games versus the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Carr is also on pace to throw for more than 4,500 yards in the season.

Candidates Ezekiel Elliott, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan all get consideration for this award. However, Brady missed four games. Elliott plays behind a dominant offensive line and Ryan could drop off in the second half of the season. Carr has a case for midseason MVP, and it should not be that close.

Offensive Player of Midseason: Derek Carr

Clearly, Carr is a candidate for the offensive player of the year award if he is an option for overall MVP.

Granted, Amari Cooper is having a great year. The Raiders defense would not be the same without him.

However, Cooper and Crabtree should both surpass 1,000 receiving yards. That is due to Carr.

The Raiders quarterback also shattered a franchise record for passing attempts and yards. He’s won AFC Player of the Week twice.

Even if you give the MVP of midseason to another player in the league, you must make Carr the offensive player of the year. He leads a Raiders offense that ranks No. 5 in yards per game and No. 6 in total points. Carr also owns one of the best touchdowns to interceptions ratio in the NFL.

Defensive Player of Midseason: Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack turned his season around by registering six sacks in four games. That puts him on pace for 14 this season. PFF ranks Mack as one of the best edge players this season.

Von Miller is also in the conversation. Aaron Donald may be as well. Both of those players may have a better argument because their defensive units rank better than the Raiders in most categories.

Thus far, Miller has 9.5 sacks and Donald has five sacks. Donald faces a disadvantage for the award because he plays inside, where he gets fewer opportunities to sack the quarterback. Also, Donald’s Rams seem most unlikely to make the playoffs.

Therefore, Mack’s shot at this award lies with the entire defense. Currently, Oakland ranks 16th in total points and fifth in most defensive yards per game. If Mack wants to win the NFL DPOY award, he must help turn those stats around. Taking the AFC West from the Broncos could also help Mack claim the award from Miller’s hands.

Rookie of the Year: Karl Joseph

Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott make it hard for Joseph to win this award on a national scale.

Joey Bosa’s four sacks and Leonard Floyd’s five sacks make it hard for Joseph to win the defensive edition too. Also, Deion Jones also has a couple of interceptions, a touchdown and a gang of tackles.

Joseph’s best argument centers around his one interception and holding the second highest tackles mark on the team. Joseph did not start the first three games of the season, but he can easily win this award with a few interceptions.

Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio

Listen, I don’t care what Jason Garrett is doing with his rookies. I don’t care how many times Bill Belichick can win this award. I don’t care what Gus Bradley is doing in his own franchise turnaround.

Jack Del Rio deserves this award, especially if he ends the Raiders 14-year playoff drought. Del Rio turned around the losing culture in Oakland. He brought them back into the national spotlight with some of his gambling playcalls.

Del Rio’s biggest obstacle for this award revolves around that struggling defense. Afterall, Del Rio is a defensive coach.

Biggest Disappointment: Clive Walford

Sean Smith has made enough plays to get himself out of this conversation. Instead, we can award it to our second-year tight end. Fantasy football experts hyped him up as our third passing target. Unfortunately, he only has one touchdown catch and is barely on pace to eclipse his rookie totals for catches and yards.

You could add some players like Dan Williams or Menelik Watson into this list. That is partly because they have not commanded the roles of full-time starters. Williams for his condition and Watson for the nagging injuries.

However, Walford was suppossed to become elite. He’s barely progressing.

Remember, they do call this the Not-For-Long league. Therefore, I gotta imagine there is a bigger bust somewhere in the league.

Oakland Raiders: The one thing to improve versus the Tennesse Titans

The Oakland Raiders and Tennesse Titans had even odds at the beginning of the week. Now, the week three game moved in the Titans’ favor, according to Silver and Black Pride.

One of the biggest reasons the Raiders could lose to the Titans is the defense.

How bad is the Oakland Raiders defense?

Here are some alarming numbers about the Raiders defense.

  • The Raiders are the first team to have allowed more than 500 yards in each of their first two games, since the 1970 merger, per ESPN.
  • The Raiders rank 23rd among NFL defenses in yards per carry with 4.5 yards per carry average. They also give up 404 passing yards per game.
  • Opposing teams completed 54 of 76 passes for 808 yards, seven touchdowns (most in the NFL) and only one interception. *
  • Oakland ranks No. 29 in opponent’s completion percentage (71.1 percent) and 32nd in opponent’s passer rating (131.4). *
  • Football Outsiders ranks the Raiders 30th in defense-adjusted value over average, which calculates the Raiders’ defense to an average schedule of opponents. Oakland is last in pass defense and 28th in rush defense according to this metric.
  • The Raiders rank 30th in sacks, with only two. Both came on the first drive in Weeks One and Two. Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Denico Autry, Williams, Justin Ellis, and Stacy McGee have combined for 10 pressures between them, according to PFF.
  • Overall, the Raiders interior linemen grade poorly by PFF. Ellis ranks 58th among defensive interior lineman. Autry is tied for 60th. Darius Latham ranks 92nd, Ward ranks 101st, and Dan Williams ranks 108.
  • The Raiders pressure QBs on just 21.8 percent of opponent’s dropbacks in two games, which is below the league average of 31 percent in 2016.
  • Oakland can still not cover the tight ends. The Falcons tight ends caught 10 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

*Stats via CBS Sports Article.

The Major Key to beating the Titans

Before we all discount the Raiders defense, let’s remember it is two games. Granted, it is two horrible games. However, Oakland has too much talent and wise minds on defense not to produce.

Remember, the Raiders brought in a lot of changing parts via the NFL Draft and free agency. It was foolish to expect the Raiders to not have growing pains. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this as he took some responsibility for the poor performance too.

Either way, the Raiders main key to victory remains the defense. Anyone who watched either game versus the Saints or Falcons can tell you that. Atlanta used Tevin Coleman and DeVonta Freeman to expose the middle of Oakland’s defense. The Saints relied on their crafty receivers.

Against the Titans, the Raiders defense must drastically improve.

Tennessee already proved they could move the ball in the third preseason game. Derek Henry and DeMarcco Murray could both bring outstanding fantasy performances versus the Raiders.

Not to mention, the Raiders still struggle covering the tight end. Now, Oakland faces one of the league’s best in Delanie Walker.

Further, Marcus Mariota is slowly becoming a dynamic player as he has completed 67 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, 509 yards, and two interceptions.

Ultimately, this game will come down to the Oakland making a play on defense. Last year’s matchup was a single score victory for the Raiders. Both teams improved since then, so it should be an interesting matchup.

On offense, Oakland has proven they can play with anyone. Quarterback Derek Carr lead the team on a game-winning drive in week one. He has only been sacked one time while finding a cast of different receivers.

The running game has been balanced. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both serve as the explosive change of pace backs behind Latavius Murray.

Therefore, do not expect the offensive game plan to change much.

Defensively, the Raiders will change it by integrated rookies Corey James and Karl Joseph. I’d also like to see more of Shilique Calhoun and Dan Williams.

Either way, their defensive effort can not get much worse. This is the biggest key to victory for the 1-1 Raiders.

Oakland will try to turn their defensive effort around at 10 A.M. PST on Sunday, Sept. 25 versus the Tennessee Titans.

 

 

Oakland Raiders Notes: Cory James, Karl Joseph, & Ken Norton Jr.

Cory James

The Raiders will play rookie Corey James more on Sunday versus Tennessee, according to CSN Bay Area.

Starter Ben Heeney put up mixed results, but head coach Jack Del Rio said his backup Cowser is a ball magnent.

“It took some time to grow on me since OTAs and everything, but I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with it,” James said. “…I’m still learning, still working to get more comfortable with recognizing formations and things like that, but I still need work there. Playing and knowing the plays, I am pretty comfortable with that.”

As for how much James will play versus the Titans, Del Rio said there was no benefit to declaring the team’s plans.

Karl Joseph

Speaking of rookies getting more plenty time, first-round draft pick Karl Joseph should make his NFL debut.

Del Rio said he is impressed with Joseph’s attitude and overall work ethic via the Raiders.com

“I think the health issue is really kind of behind him now.” Del Rio said. “I feel good about that. I feel good about the way he’s preparing. Now we just look forward to all of us going out and playing well on Sunday.”

Ken Norton Jr.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. took some of the blame for the Raiders’ poor defensive outings in two games, via SF Gate.

“ I’m accountable for it. We have to work harder, work better and we expect to come out of this.” Norton said.

The defensive coordinator said he still believes the team can turn it around.

“Again, no one said it was going to be easy. You’re going to have adverse times and those adverse times really reveal us, reveal who you are, and I think that the team has come together, come close.” Norton said. “You can tell the guys really care. No one wants to play as bad as we’ve played.”

Check out offensive notes for the week here.

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.