Bucs use 17 big plays to embarrass Raiders


Bucs use 17 big plays to embarrass Raiders


OAKLAND -- In the smoky wreckage of the Raiders 42-32 loss to Doug Martin and various other Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Dennis Allen kept going on and on and on about execution, as though he was considering it as a midweek drill.His problem in that case, though, would have been in amassing sufficient ammunition. When a team loses like this, the blame is thick, wide, and applies easily.Mostly, though, Allens specialty, the defensive side of the ball, is the reason the Raiders got chased out of their own building Sunday. Tactically, strategically, technically and chronically, Oaklands defenders did little to earn the name.And while the offense had its issues (Carson Palmers three interceptions, two born of sheer Palmerian impatience), and is going to have more if the news on the ankles of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson is bad, the Raiders shamed themselves Sunday because of atrocious tackling and pursuit, which remain two of the most important things a defense can do.We didnt tackle well, is how Allen put it. Weve done a good job of tackling but today was not a good day.Then again, watching your garage burn down is not a good day, too.Martins 251 rushing yards and four scores were plenty in and of themselves, and it was only Tampa coach Greg Schianos conservatism down the stretch that kept those numbers from being more jaw-dropping.I kind of stumbled on a few early, and my coach was like, Get your head up, get your head up, Martin said. So I started to pick my head up after I was stumbling. What follows the head is the body, so I just kept going and I was on to the third level.The fourth level, of course, being Oakland International Airport.But the more elemental truth is this: Of the 63 offensive plays the Buccaneers ran Sunday, 17 went for 10 or more yards. Thats 27 percent of their plays from scrimmage. How they only ended up with 515 total yards based on that number alone is stunning.And not all 17 of those plays were Martins doing, which means this was not a matter of one man beating 11, as much as fantasy blokes might paint it as such. From the games first play, when Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman scrambled into wide open prairie for 11 yards, the Raiders gave up huge hunks of yardage to a multiplicity of Buccaneers. Martin for 12.
Freeman to former Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig for 11.
Freeman to wide receiver Vincent Jackson for 64, minus 15 for Jacksons taunting of Tyvon Branch.
Martin for 13.
Freeman to Jackson for 20 and the first touchdown.
Freeman for 11.
Freeman to tight end Dallas Clark for 10.
Freeman to Williams for 22.
Freeman to Clark for 12.
Martin for 10.
Freeman to running back D.J. Ware for 12.
Martin for 45 and the second touchdown.
Freeman to wide receiver Mike Williams for 37.
Martin for 67 and the fourth touchdown.
Martin for 70 and the fifth touchdown.
Freeman to tight end Nate Byham for 10.Thats 437 of the 515 yards, an average of 25.7 yards PER PLAY. Next to that, Palmers performance, which probably infuriated more people than it should have given the fact that the Raiders played most of the game without McFadden and half the fourth quarter without Goodson, was downright incandescent.Now you may be comfortable with the idea that this was just one of those days, but they play Baltimore (Ray Rice) next, and before seasons end still must face Cincinnati (BenJarvus Green-Ellis), Cleveland (Trent Richardson), Denver (Willis McGahee), Carolina (Cam Newton) and San Diego (Ryan Mathews). They all rank 22nd or higher (Martin was 11th), and theyve all had or nearly had 100 yards in a game.In short, there may be other days that approach this one not 251 yards worth, but enough to make an impression on a team whose latest impression is Doug Martins foot on their faces.And therein lies the true and enduring problem. The Raiders changed a lot of things over the off-season, and they manically emphasized defending the run. As a result, they ranked in or near the top 10 in total yards, yards per carry, and various lesser run numbers. After Sunday, they went from a thoroughly acceptable 3.9 yards per rush to 4.7, which would now place them 29th.In one day.In other words, this is still a work in progress, and slower progress than one would think. Many changes remain to be made before this ocean liner completes its U-turn, and Sunday was a 40-piece brass bands proof of that.And yes, execution still sounds like a pretty good idea. No matter how you define it.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires


Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

The Raiders are razor thin at cornerback, without many bodies or talent they can trust. They were down to three healthy career cornerbacks heading into Sunday’s game against New England, with TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald available.

Head coach Jack Del Rio added a new name to the mix. He started second-round safety Obi Melifonwu at cornerback against the high-flying Patriots, an experiment that didn’t work out well.

Melifonwu played 26 snaps at cornerback, where he had been working some in practice since becoming eligible to return off injured reserve. He spent the early season on IR after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Melifonwu was put in a tough spot, and struggled as a result. He allowed two receptions for 69 yards on four targets, including a 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks where he had his eyes in the backfield when the Patriots speedster blew right by.

This position switch came in Melifonwu’s second NFL game, with just seven defensive snaps under his belt. 

Head coach Jack Del Rio admitted it was a move made out of desperation.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Del Rio said after Sunday’s 33-8 loss to New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “We need more production (at cornerback). We're willing to try just about anything and we talked about being lean there and needing more production from that spot.

“(Melifonwu’s) a talented kid and it was probably asking a little too much, but we are going to roll those guys, we rolled our guys in the secondary tonight, and we're going to do that. We have got to do that until somebody starts playing well enough to stay in there full-time.”

The Raiders are in a bind at cornerback with Gareon Conley on injured reserve and David Amerson out three straight games with a foot injury. Demetrius McCray and Antonio Hamilton are also on season-ending injured reserve.

Carrie was a mainstay on Sunday, playing all 60 defensive snaps. Smith took over early, when the Melifonwu experiment wasn’t working out. He played 43 snaps, allowing three catches for 34 yards on five targets. McDonald played just eight snaps.

The Raiders are hoping someone can improve and settle into a full-time spot. The secondary has been thin for some time, but the personnel department has declined to sign anyone new off the street for depth.

That means Del Rio’s staff is still searching for answers at that position from a small pool.

“We're not playing really well on the back end and we have to find a way,” Del Rio said. “And we're going to make it competitive and let guys challenge for it and challenge for time and the guys that play the best are going to play the most.”

Quarterback – Derek Carr 74
Running back – DeAndre Washington 24, Marshawn Lynch 21, Jamize Olawale 14, Jalen Richard 11,
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 67, Seth Roberts 59, Michael Crabtree 58, Cordarelle Patterson 25, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 54, Clive Walford 14, Lee Smith 10
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 74, Rodney Hudson 74, Donald Penn 74, Gabe Jackson 74, Vadal Alexander 74

Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Justin Ellis 38, Eddie Vanderdoes 34, Denico Autry 31, Treyvon Hester 24, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 51, Bruce Irvin 46, Cory James 44, Nicholas Morrow 15, Marquel Lee 9
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 60, Sean Smith 43, Obi Melifonwu 26, Dexter McDonald 8
Safety – Reggie Nelson 60, Karl Joseph 51, Shalom Luani 9

Nicholas Morrow 18, James Cowser 18, Marquel Lee 15, Erik Harris 15, Xavier Woodson-Luster 15, Keith McGill 15, Jamize Olawale 15, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Dexter McDonald 12, DeAndre Washington 11, Jalen Richard 9, Shalom Luani 9, Lee Smith 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes 7, Denico Autry 7, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Feliciano 7, Johnny Holton 6, TJ Carrie 6, Jon Condo 4, Marquette King 4, Karl Joseph 2, Cory James 2, Obi Melifonwu 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2

QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, LB Shilique Calhoun, RT Marshall Newhouse, DT Darius Latham

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery


Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley will have surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, a week after he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

This year’s No. 24 overall pick announced that news in an Instagram post, accompanied by a picture of his young son.

Surgery was always a likely outcome after heading to IR, though the team never formally stated that would occur.

The Raiders believe Conley will return completely healthy for the 2018 campaign, and have high hopes for him as a lock down cover man.

They could certainly use him this season. He was expected to contribute heavily as a rookie, but a shin injury suffered in a June minicamp prevented that from happening. He missed training camp and the entire preseason slate, but eventually made his NFL debut in Week 2. He suffered a setback in a Week 3 game at Washington, and was shut down indefinitely on Oct. 6.

Conley was re-evaluated early last week, and the Raiders didn’t see enough progress to keep him on the 2017 roster.

The Raiders are lacking at cornerback with Conley down and David Amerson dealing with a foot injury.

Head coach Jack Del Rio will speak to the media Monday afternoon, and provide an update on Conley’s procedure.