AFC West: Oakland Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No play has exemplified the Oakland Raiders' woes on defense more than J.J. Watt's one-yard touchdown catch to start the Houston Texans' onslaught Sunday.

Yes, Watt is a defensive end. That's the problem.

Watt entered the field with Houston at the goal line and the Raiders did nothing about it. He bolted for the back of the end zone and was left uncovered to easily catch a touchdown pass. Defensive end LaMarr Woodley was pointing at linebacker Sio Moore on the field after the play.

"We missed it," Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Monday. "We kind of knew it was coming. It was just poor execution on our part. We just didn't execute."

Added defensive end Justin Tuck, a team leader who spoke to the media Monday: "It was just a false read, honestly. A guy didn't know that he was eligible with the 99, so didn't cover him."

Allen has made it clear that moving forward, missed assignments and execution failures will not be accepted. The Watt play will likely continue to be pointed out in the defensive meeting room throughout the season.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A day of cooling off and watching the film didn’t change Dennis Allen’s mind much -- he still thinks his Oakland Raiders have to quickly figure things out after an 0-2 start in which the team has played poorly.

[+] EnlargeArian Foster, Charles Woodson, Carlos Rogers, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders
Ben Margot/Associated PressArian Foster and the Houston running game made mincemeat of the Raiders defense Sunday.
“[There are a] lot of things that we’ve got to get better at,” Allen said Monday, a day after a 30-14 home loss to Houston. “It’s time for us to do it. Talk’s cheap. We need to make improvement, and we need to make improvement fast.”

Allen said the biggest key is improving against the run --the Raiders have allowed 400 yards on the ground in two games -- and improving on third down on both sides of the ball. These issues have kept Oakland’s defense on the field way too long, and the Raiders have been crushed in the time-of-possession battle.

Allen said there are no magic solution. It comes down to deciding to get the job done.

“(The Texans) ran the ball on us when they wanted to run the ball on us,” Allen said. “That’s a mentality. We’ve got to change that. We’ve got to be better there. Until we prove that we can stop it, you’re going to keep seeing it. We’ve got to prove we can stop it.”

New defensive end Justin Tuck spoke to the media on an otherwise quiet day and he had the same message as his coach. Tuck, a 10-year veteran, said his own play needs to improve. He said the defense, which has eight new starters, is taking longer to find chemistry than perhaps everyone thought.

The Raiders player who made the headlines after the loss was future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson. He said “we suck” and he was “embarrassed” by the team's play. Allen said Monday that he wished all of his players were playing as well as Woodson, who is 37.

“I think that’s something that is spoken out of frustration,” Allen said. “When you watch Charles Woodson play in that game and the effort that he gave in that game and the passion in which he played in that game, it’s a tough pill to swallow -- when you go out there and don’t perform like you’re capable of performing. He gave everything he had in that game, and we have to get more guys playing like that.”

The Raiders’ problems aren’t just on defense. They had four turnovers Sunday -- two Derek Carr interceptions and fumbles by James Jones and Mychal Rivera. Allen said the Raiders are in the position to survive those types of miscues.

“We’ve got to have respect for the football,” Allen said.“We’re not good enough to overcome those types of mistakes.”

Allen said he is open to changing anything, from him calling defensive plays to personnel changes. Still, he said nothing is planned and noted there aren’t any “saviors” on the way.

The Raiders simply have to get better, and they have to do it now.

The Film Don't Lie: Raiders

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
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A weekly look at what the Raiders must fix:

The 0-2 Oakland Raiders have plenty of problems. But there is no doubt the biggest issue right now is stopping the run. They must address that area or they will have no chance Sunday at New England.

The Raiders have allowed exactly 400 yards rushing in two games. The Texans ran right at Oakland.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Houston had 151 yards rushing between the tackles. All but 13 of Arian Foster's 136 yards were between the tackles. The Texans didn’t feel they had to get fancy. They simply challenged the Raiders and won.

It affected every aspect of the game. That is why the Texans held the ball for more than 38 minutes and why the Raiders' offense couldn’t get in a rhythm. Simply, the Raiders have to get tougher against the run if they want a chance to win.
OAKLAND -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Oakland Raiders' 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans:
    Woodson
  • Safety Charles Woodson didn’t mince words Sunday after the lopsided loss in the home opener: “We suck. … I’m embarrassed.”
  • The locker room was a very quiet place after the game. The Raiders are concerned about their terrible play in the first two games. Last week, the Raiders were positive after a loss at the New York Jets. There wasn’t much of a happy spin after this game.
  • Coach Dennis Allen was very direct. He said his team needs to get better in a hurry. Allen and players were not happy with the run defense. The Raiders gave up 188 yards on the ground Sunday after giving up 212 yards on the ground last week.
  • Allen said linebacker Sio Moore has an ankle injury and X-rays were negative. Receiver Rod Streater has a hip flexor injury.

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
7:23
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OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans.

What it means: The Raiders fell to 0-2 and looked awful. This team was lacking in essentially every area a football team can be lacking. The Texans are an average team and they steamrolled Oakland. The Raiders did not play well in a 19-14 loss at the New York Jets last week. But they regressed big time in what was considered a winnable game at home. Expect to hear more and more rumblings about the job security of coach Dennis Allen. Owner Mark Davis is on the record saying he is tired of stinkers. This was just a horrible way to start the home slate.

Stock Watch: The defense is trending way down. The unit wasn’t terrible against the Jets and made some big plays to keep the Raiders in that game. That wasn’t the case against the Texans. Houston dominated in the run and pass game.

Raiders get sloppy: The silver lining of last week’s was the Raiders were penalized just four times and didn’t commit a turnover. They played clean. That was not the case Sunday. The Raiders had four turnovers (all of them ugly) and committed five penalties. This team is not talented enough to overcome those types of mistakes.

Game ball: It’s tough to give a game ball after a performance like this, but I’m going with quarterback Derek Carr. Yes, he made some mistakes. But as was the case last week, Carr was not the reason why the Raiders lost this game. The NFL does not look too big for this kid.

What’s next: It does not get easier for the Raiders. They have to go to New England next week and then directly to London for a “home game” against Miami. The Raiders will not be back in Oakland for four weeks. The question is will Allen be on the sideline when they return?
OAKLAND -- As expected, the Oakland Raiders will be without two starters Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and middle linebacker Nick Roach are inactive for the game. Both players were listed as questionable on the injury report, but appeared unlikely during the week that they would be able to play. Jones-Drew has a hand injury and Roach suffered a concussion Aug. 22 at Green Bay and has not been cleared to play.

Miles Burris will continue to play for Roach, who played every defensive snap for Oakland last season. Burris had 12 tackles in a 19-14 loss at the New York Jets.

Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray will play for Jones-Drew, who had just 11 yards on nine carries last week.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Officially, Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew is listed as questionable to play Sunday against the Houston Texans with an injured hand. However, at this point, it would be considered a surprise if he plays.

Murray
That means Latavius Murray will get this chance. This is an opportunity for another young Oakland player to show he deserves more playing time. Murray – a sixth-round pick last year who was on the injured reserve with a foot injury – is poised to get this first NFL carries. If Jones-Drew doesn’t play, Murray will backup veteran Darren McFadden, who would start.

The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Murray is the team’s kick returner and the team is intrigued by him because of his preseason work. He ran with solid authority. Oakland coach Dennis Allen said is comfortable with Murray playing in the regular season.

“I thought he had a good preseason,” Allen said. “I feel good about him if he’s called on.”

ESPN analyst Matt Williamson thinks the time is right for Murray to get a chance. The Raiders had just 25 yards rushing in a 19-14 loss at the New York Jets on Sunday.

“I would assume they see Murray as the RB of the future and I think it would be wise to get him more and more involved,” Williamson said. “He isn’t a real refined runner, but he is very big and very fast for such a big RB. He needs reps.”

Unless Jones-Drew makes a fast recovery, Murray should get those repetitions Sunday.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders gave Taiwan Jones a three-year extension this offseason, making him one of the game’s highest-paid special-teams players.

Jones
Now they will have to wait until next season to get dividends. Jones, listed as a cornerback, is being put on season-ending injured reserve with a foot injury. Initially, the team did not think the injured reserve would be necessary. Jones was hurt Sunday at a loss at the New York Jets. The team is expected to promote Bojay Filiomeatu from the practice squad. It would give the Raiders six linebackers.

The Raiders might need him Sunday. Middle linebacker Nick Roach is listed as questionable. He hasn’t played since he suffered a concussion at Green Bay on Aug. 22. He has yet to been cleared for contact Miles Burris started for Roach and had 12 tackles against the Jets.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was listed as probable on the injury report. He has missed several weeks with a foot injury. He is poised to be the No. 3 cornerback.

Texans vs. Raiders preview

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
8:00
AM ET

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The loser of this Week 2 matchup will face some tough early-season consequences.

If the Oakland Raiders lose their home opener, they'll fall to 0-2, which will be difficult for their fan base to accept. The Raiders made a lot of changes this offseason. If Oakland drops another game, it will be difficult for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning record since 2002 to get to 9-7 or better this year.

If the Houston Texans lose to the Raiders and rookie quarterback Derek Carr, the Texans will have to deal with the reality that they passed on Carr in the second round before the Raiders took him at No. 36. Derek Carr is the younger brother of David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick by Houston in 2002. Derek Carr and his family moved to Houston to be with David, who flamed out with the Texans. Perhaps the Texans were afraid to sell the choice of another Carr to their fan base. If they lose this game, though, the Texans might face more questions.

Texans reporter Tania Ganguli and Raiders reporter Bill Williamson discuss the matchup:

Williamson: Tania, will the Texans regret not taking Carr?

Ganguli: They did a lot of work on Carr in the pre-draft process and liked him. Coach Bill O’Brien spoke very highly of Carr this week, too, saying he will be a good pro and the Raiders did a good job drafting him. He was then quick to say he also thinks Tom Savage, who the Texans drafted in the fourth round, was a good pick there. This is something I’ll definitely watch as the season goes on. The Raiders took Carr, who is obviously now their starting quarterback, three picks after the Texans selected guard Xavier Su'a-Filo with the first pick of the second round. The players are in different situations, so it’s not fair to directly compare them. Carr was there for the whole offseason, in a place where the starter was struggling tremendously. Su'a-Filo's arrival was delayed by the quarter-system rule; the NFL prohibits players from working out with their new teams until the player's academic calendar is complete. In the meantime, Ben Jones won the left guard job. Bill, why aren’t the Texans facing their former quarterback, Matt Schaub, who is now the Raiders' backup? How did he handle the Raiders' decision to start Carr?

Williamson: The Raiders figured Schaub would be a short-term answer, but he didn’t necessarily have what it takes to be a difference-maker who could win games. So Oakland decided to serve youth now with Carr. As far as how Schaub handled losing the starting job, he was terrific. This guy is a pro. Schaub admitted he wasn’t pleased with the move, but he handled it well. Carr has praised Schaub for offering to help in any way possible. Schaub’s actions have made the transition easier for everyone. Tania, Texans punter Shane Lechler, who was Oakland's punter for many years, is a Black Hole favorite. Is this a big game for him?

Ganguli: The Raiders' organization means a lot to Lechler. He appreciates Al Davis spending a fifth-round pick on him in 2000. He loved his 13 seasons there -- especially the Super Bowl season. But, like many players in this situation, he doesn’t want to draw too much attention to that. It helps that he faced the Raiders last season. It also helps that he barely knows anyone on the team anymore. Lechler said this week that he hopes to punt for the Texans as long as he punted for the Raiders. That would be quite a feat. Bill, speaking of favorites, DE Antonio Smith was a favorite in Houston. What has his role been Oakland?

Williamson: Smith is one of the many veterans the Raiders paid for this offseason. He is a starter and one of the leaders of Oakland’s defense. Week 1 wasn’t great for Smith and his defensive teammates, but the Raiders think he can help this season. Smith is a big fan of former teammate J.J. Watt. Who isn’t, right?

Ganguli: Watt’s play in the Texans' season opener was truly spectacular. He had a fumble recovery, a batted pass, a blocked extra-point attempt, two tackles for loss and a sack. Watt will be a problem for Oakland, no matter how they try to combat him. And what was really helpful for the Texans in their season opener was that Watt had help. That will be the challenge for Oakland. The Raiders can double Watt, as most teams do, but that creates opportunities for a guy like Brooks Reed, who had another outstanding game. Finally, Bill, how good is the Raiders’ run defense?

Williamson: The Raiders think they are going to have a stout run defense this season. They are big and strong up front. That didn’t help against the Jets, who had 212 yards rushing and averaged 6.2 yards per run. The difference in the game was a 71-yard touchdown run by New York’s Chris Ivory in the fourth quarter. The weather was warm and the defense was on the field a lot for Oakland. And they did wear down. That is an area this team must improve quickly.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- This week might be remembered as the turning point if Khalil Mack ends up producing a monster rookie season.

After a so-so first NFL game, the No. 5 overall draft pick kept his head down this week and opened eyes on the coaching staff.

Mack
“He’s had his two best days of practice, [they] have been these past two days,” Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said Thursday. “That’s what I’m excited about. He got better as (Sunday’s game) went; he’s had his best two practices since he’s been here these two days, so he keeps on this progression.”

Tarver and Oakland head coach Dennis Allen have said the Buffalo product has improved steadily through the preseason and into Sunday’s game. What the Raiders must like about Mack is his attention to detail and desire to improve. Tarver said that was evident Sunda, as Mack was more disruptive as the game went on.

“I thought as the game went, you could see the explosion in the young man,” Tarver said. “He got better and anything that we coached him on the sideline, he did right and fast the next time, so he’s right in the progression where he needs to be.”

Told that Tarver said he has had his best two days of practice, Mack acknowledged that he has felt good this week.

“You can kind of sense when things are going well,” Mack said. “The key for this is to keep playing fast. There’s 40-time fast and there’s speed, but there is also playing football fast. That’s the key.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You never know who you're going to run into the Black Hole.

The Oakland Raiders' infamous "Black Hole" in the south end zone is known for being one of the most hostile areas in any NFL stadium. It's a seasonlong dark, loud, finger-pointing Halloween party.

David Carr
Derek Carr
Sunday, for the Raiders' season opener, the Black Hole may play host to a famous visitor. But is planning to keep his identity hidden.

"My brother said he's going and sitting in the Black Hole, all dressed up," Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr said. His brother is David Carr. The former No. 1 overall draft of the Houston Texans, who just happen to be the Raiders' opponent Sunday.

If David is actually going to be in the Black Hole, he won't be advertising it.

"He has been sending me all kinds of pictures of different masks he might wear," Derek said. "It's pretty funny."

Does Derek think his brother, who starred at Fresno State prior to being drafted in 2002, will go through with it?

"I don't know, he might," Derek said said. "I don't think he wants to go to the game and have everyone see him. It's California. Everybody will notice him."

What would Derek think if his brother actually is part of the Black Hole?

"It'd be great."

Getting most out of Mack is key

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
8:35
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders used the No. 5 overall pick on Khalil Mack because they want him to be a game-changing pass-rusher.

Mack
However, in Mack's first NFL game -- a loss at the New York Jets -- there were some passing situations in which Mack wasn't on the field. Is that a sign of concern?

No, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said, it's just the way things are in the NFL.

"You're talking about a guy that plays linebacker, he plays defensive line, he does both," Allen said of Mack. "To be able to get a consistent rush, we've got to be able to rotate all those guys. He's not the only one that gets rotated in and out. The objective is to be able to have four fresh rushers when it's time to throw the ball. We'll continue to do that. He's going to play a majority of the snaps, just like he did last week. But there will be some times where we'll have to rest him."

Mack had an uneven game Sunday, but he did harass Jets quarterback Geno Smith on a couple of occasions.

"I think he's vastly improved from the first game you saw him in the preseason to where he's at right now," Allen said. "I think he's continued to get better."

The Houston Texans studied Mack a lot before the draft but took South Carolina pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall. Texans coach Bill O'Brien said he knows what to expect from Mack on Sunday when Houston visits the Raiders.

"Khalil was definitely a guy that we thought was an instinctive player, an explosive player, a guy that we felt like his best football was ahead of him, because we felt like this is a guy that can really rush the passer and also probably drop into pass coverage, be a second-level defender," O'Brien said. "That's what we see on tape, he's a really good football player."
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew is day-to-day with a hand injury he suffered Sunday in a 19-14 loss at the New York Jets, coach Dennis Allen said.

Jones-Drew did not practice Wednesday. Allen said he is not sure if the running back will be able to play Sunday against Houston and will see how he feels if and when he next practices. The injury does not appear to be serious.

If Jones-Drew, in his first season with Oakland, doesn’t play Sunday, Darren McFadden will start. Latavius Murray would back up McFadden.

Meanwhile, Allen said starting middle linebacker Nick Roach is feeling better after suffering a concussion Aug. 22 at Green Bay, but he has not been cleared for full contact yet. He was limited in practice Wednesday. Roach practiced some last week, but didn’t play against the Jets.

Backup cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was limited in practice. He missed the past several weeks with a knee injury.

Taiwan Jones likely out 4-8 week

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
5:55
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Jones
The Oakland Raiders may be without special teams ace Taiwan Jones for up to two months.

Two NFL sources told me, and ESPN’s Adam Caplan said Jones’ recovery timeline is 4-8 weeks from a foot injury he suffered Sunday in the Raiders’ 19-14 loss at the New York Jets on Sunday.

Monday, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said this of Jones: “I would imagine that he would be out for some time.” Allen said it is too early to discuss whether Jones will be put on the injured reserve.

Jones could return as soon as after the Raiders’ Week 5 bye or as late as early November. Jones is one of Oakland’s best special teams players.
videoEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Coach Dennis Allen's expectation in the past few weeks -- whether the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback was Matt Schaub or Derek Carr -- was better execution from the entire offense.

One of the reasons the Raiders boldly named Carr, a second-round pick, as the starter was the way the offense executed with him behind center in the preseason and training camp.

However, when the bright lights of Week 1 came on, Carr and his offense lacked that same energy, cohesion and spark. The result was a sluggish 19-14 loss -- the game was not that close -- to the New York Jets.

“It should have been a rat kill,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

The Raiders, hoping that change would create better bottom-line results, are 0-1 and have now lost nine straight games dating back to last season. Oakland had just 158 total yards of offense -- 73 of which came on the team’s final drive. It was Oakland’s lowest offensive output since 2009. Yes, that was the JaMarcus Russell era.

The question for the Raiders is if Sunday’s lethargic offensive output was a sign of things to come or if it was simply a slow start for an offense being led by a talented, yet green, quarterback?

It's probably the latter. The Raiders did not lose this game because Carr was awful. Allen said Carr predictably made some mistakes, but he didn’t think the game was too big for the Fresno State product.

“The key is finding a quarterback you trust,” Oakland receiver Rod Streater said. “I have found that in Derek. We have to help him.”

Precisely. The Oakland offense will have to get better as a unit. Carr will grow. But his offense has to elevate with him.

The Raiders were clearly cautious with Carr. The game plan was for him to throw short passes against a smart, strong New York defense. Until the Raiders’ last drive -- essentially a garbage time outing that ended in a nifty 30-yard touchdown pass from Carr to new veteran receiver James Jones -- to make it a one-touchdown game in the final moments, Carr threw just one pass for more than 15 yards.

Expect the Raiders’ game plan to remain conservative as Carr gains more experience, especially against a quick Houston defensive front at home next Sunday. Carr started out well as he got the ball out quickly and he was thriving as he completed his first eight passes.

Yet, as the Jets’ defense stiffened, Carr became inconsistent. His teammates didn’t help.

Spanning the second through fourth quarters, the Raiders went more than half the game without getting into Jets' territory. The Raiders’ run game -- which is supposed to kick start the offense this season -- was nonexistent. New starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew had 11 yards on nine carries. Fellow veteran Darren McFadden had 15 yards on four carries. The Raiders ended up with 25 yards of rushing offense.

Ryan chided new Oakland guard, and former Jets player Austin Howard, for saying this week he thought the Raiders could push the Jets around a bit. The only pushing was being done by the Jets.

“I thought they won the line of scrimmage battle,” Allen said. “We’ve just got to be able to execute and do better.”

It starts with Oakland’s veterans on offense helping their rookie quarterback more than they did Sunday.

 

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