Carr's absence still has Raiders in a rut: 'Derek is gone'

Carr's absence still has Raiders in a rut: 'Derek is gone'

DENVER – The Raiders have played roughly five quarters since quarterback Derek Carr broke his right fibula. They’ve been outscored 35-6 in that span.

A quarter of that came after he got hurt against Indianapolis, when the Raiders were justifiably shell-shocked. The rest stems from Sunday’s 24-6 loss to the Denver Broncos, where poor quarterback play, an inept run game and defensive miscues killed any chance of winning the AFC West.

Now the Raiders must regroup on a short week before opening the playoffs Saturday afternoon in Houston. They aren’t sure who will play quarterback. It could be Matt McGloin, who wasn’t good even before suffering a shoulder/neck injury in the second quarter. It could be Connor Cook, a raw but talented rookie making his first NFL start in the postseason.

[RELATED: Report: Raiders flying in former practice squad quarterback]

There’s one option they won’t have. Carr isn’t coming back to save the day.

That’s something Raiders players and coaches understand, but that doesn't make it easy to move past. Carr was this team’s heart and soul on the field and off. Losing him at such a late stage, with reserves thrust into huge games without much time to prep, is a gut shot. There wasn’t time to come to grips with it, adjust over a longer stretch or even catch a breath.

The Raiders looked lost without Carr on Sunday in Denver. There is a void without him the Raiders are trying to fill on the fly. That's a tall task. Maybe improbable. Keeping eyes forward is the only option, especially with that giant cast on Carr’s surgically repaired right leg.

“We can’t keep talking about Derek, bro,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “Derek is gone. We have to do what we have to do to win. There isn’t any sense to keep bringing up Derek. It is what it is at this point. We got outplayed today. It’s plain and simple.”

The Raiders offense never got rolling. The Broncos were committed to stopping the run – as the Texans will be on Saturday – and dared quarterbacks to beat them deep. That didn’t happen much. Cook and McGloin threw for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 32 attempts.

The defense is also entering a new world order, one where adequate is no longer acceptable. The Raiders won’t be scoring at their usual clip without Carr, meaning points and yards allowed must come down to compete.

The defense fell behind early in Denver and the offense never found a rhythm. That made for one bad day at the office. The Raiders seemed sluggish, without the energy typical of this year’s team. That begs one obvious question: Are the Raiders still reeling over Carr?

“I think you leave yourself open to those kinds of questions for sure,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’re big boys. We can take it like men and move on. It’s not what we wanted by any stretch. In a lot of different areas, we can be a lot better. As a team, we are better than that. We need to just put this behind us and move on.”

The Raiders didn’t want to use Carr’s loss to excuse poor play. They didn’t tolerate failure just because McGloin started, got hurt and then Cook took over. This quarterback mess could well be their undoing, but the Raiders don’t want to go out with a whimper.

“You have to improvise and overcome,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “…Everybody should be ready to play.”

Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018


Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018

The Raiders signed veteran running back Doug Martin on Thursday, prompting many to believe the move meant the end of Marshawn Lynch's time in Oakland.

But as it has been expected, Martin is just another piece to go along with Lynch in the Raiders' backfield. According to multiple national reports, Lynch will remain in Silver and Black this upcoming season. 

The news will become official when the Raiders pay Lynch his $1 million roster bonus on Sunday. 

“One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. We’ll see what happens," Jon Gruden told Insider Scott Bair at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We have to take a look at the entire roster, but I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of this football team.”

Lynch, 31, rushed for 891 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns for the Raiders in 2017. 

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”