Carr changes fourth down play call, delivers clutch TD strike to Crabtree

Carr changes fourth down play call, delivers clutch TD strike to Crabtree

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio weighed his options and once again decided to be bold. He went for it on a pivotal fourth down late in Sunday’s game against San Diego, and coordinator Bill Musgrave dialed up a play to get just beyond the sticks.

Quarterback Derek Carr had something else in mind. Michael Crabtree was isolated in single coverage with Casey Hayward, a matchup Carr was confident his guy would win. He sent Crabtree deep, and tossed a perfect, arching fade the receiver caught just beyond the goal line.

Touchdown, Raiders. The moment was a game changer. The Raiders established a lead they would not relinquish to win their third straight.

Carr made a tough call in the moment, one that would’ve been heavily criticized had the play failed. He made it without fear or doubt, trusting his arm and his guy to make a big play.

“I just know that as soon as the ball goes up, I know what they were thinking like, ‘We didn’t call that,’” Carr said with a laugh. “It’s just funny. It’s nothing outside the framework of what they want me to do or being aggressive and those kinds of things. I would never do that kind of stuff, be an insubordinate. I’m not like that. I try and stay in the framework and run the offense the way Coach Musgrave and (quarterbacks coach Todd Downing) want it.”

Musgrave’s original play call was a good one and could’ve worked. Carr saw a golden opportunity and took it.

In his internal struggle between gunslinger and game manager, the six guns won.

"A lot of those criteria are based on coverage and what he sees," Musgrave said. "We have certain routes we like versus certain coverages. He knows his criteria and he applied it perfectly there."

Carr has talked extensively about being smarter and more poised in tough situations, confident in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to make every play all by himself. He has help on a talented roster, and isn’t afraid to let them shoulder some weight carrying the team.

There are times, however, when Carr must take firm control. There are times when playing conservative does not apply.

“I always remain aggressive and erred on that side of the line,” Carr told after his press conference. “That’s how you have to play the game. You can’t be passive from the quarterback position. That’s how I think about it. I go with the flow of the game and take what’s given, but I’m going to push it when the time’s right.”

Carr doesn’t do so based on gut feelings. He takes calculated risks.

“Sometimes you have to draw the line and dare to make a big play,” Carr said. “You can be smart about it, factoring in the route and the coverage. You weigh things out, and sometimes you have to go make a play that can help lead the team to victory.”

It doesn’t always work out, though it has for this season’s 4-1 Raiders and their quarterback, who already has two fourth-quarter comebacks to his credit.

Carr now knows when to pull the trigger, when to exercise restraint and take what’s given.

"Our coaching staff has put together a terrific system that enables and is conducive for a quarterback to make quarter-turn adjustments or change the entire play," Musgrave said. "He’s done a terrific job, as have all the quarterbacks."

Musgrave and Downing have given him freedom to make important calls, to check to different plays and routes. It’s a privilege Carr enjoys.

“That’s the way I love to play. I love having a lot put on my back,” Carr said. “I like having… Any quarterback does. Coach Musgrave talks to me about his time with Matt Ryan (in Atlanta), how he loved that and how we’re similar in that way. We just love that kind of stuff. I absolutely love it.”

Carr used that power well, running a high-octane offense ranked fourth in the NFL. His contributions have been nearly all positive, with 1,383 yards and 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

Carr continues to grow into a consistently top-flight performer, and his coaches trust him to make big plays and important calls at the right time.

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on

Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary


Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary

The Raiders started this offseason looking to revamp their secondary around their last two first-round picks. Gareon Conley would start at one cornerback spot. Karl Joseph was penned at strong safety.

Every other job, however, was wide open and likely filled from the outside.

Safety Marcus Gilchrist came aboard Thursday, but one premium spot remained open opposite Conley. Veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin took it Friday afternoon, agreeing on terms of a one-year $6.5 million contract.

NFL Network broke the news of a bargain compared to other cornerback free-agent deals. They aren’t attached to him long term, and Melvin can sign a bigger deal if he plays well in 2018.

The Raiders declared interest in the former Indianapolis cornerback early this week and worked toward an agreement sealed during a Friday morning visit at the team’s Alameda practice facility.

The 28-year old’s fresh off a career year, allowing just 29 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 55 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Quarterbacks had a paltry 60.3 passer rating against him.

Melvin stands 6-foot-2, 196 pounds and has the athleticism to excel in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.

Melvin bounced around before settling with the Colts, struggling to find footing in Tampa Bay, Baltimore New England and two offseason programs in Miami. He found a home in Indianapolis, and became a regular starter in 2016. His breakout 2017 season was cut short by a hand injury that kept him out the last five games.

Melvin projects to start right away. The Raiders will be thrilled if he stays healthy and retains recent form. Melvin has solid ball skills, regularly forces incompletions and thrived in tough assignments that came with being the Colts’ top cornerback.

Gilchrist’s addition, Melvin’s deal and the Friday addition of Shareece Wright fills a cupboard in the defensive backfield laid bare by design.

The Raiders cut David Amerson and now-jailed Sean Smith this offseason. TJ Carrie took a big deal in Cleveland. Reggie Nelson’s allowed to walk as a free agent.

The Raiders added three free agents to the group thus far, and could well draft another defensive back next month.

They’ll have safety Obi Melifonwu in reserve – he’ll have to earn a role after missing most of 2017 with injury – and cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald vying for spots.

Melvin will be plenty motivated to have a big year and cash in at age 29, for what might be his last shot at a big payday.