Dennis Allens first NFL game as a head coach exposed him as a first-time coach in the NFL, short on solutions for bizarre eventualities and with too great a reliance on the plan even after the plan broke down. Typical, really to be expected.But the day after got worse.Jacoby Ford, the Raiders game-breaking wide receiver, is off to have season-jeopardizing surgery, thereby thinning out the already shallow wide receiver pool, and that means the looming spectre of Chad Ochenta y Cinco.I mean, at this stage of his career, he is no longer in charge of his name, and since 85 is already taken by Darrius Heyward-Bey, Chad may be seeking out ochenta otro.Another eighty.Okay, enough fun with old nomenclature. Allen is in his first true roster jam, Carson Palmer has subtly agitated for Chad Johnson, he is the best available veteran diva, he has more experience than the rest of the Raider wide receiver roster has in total, and he has been beyond humbled.Thats the up-side. The downside is that Allen needed this year to build his foundation, not paper over the old one, and Johnson is a potential complication as most as a potential solution.And frankly, Allen needs talent without complication right now.Now we dont know if the Raiders are looking for Chad Johnson in any form. He is a handy answer to the question, Whos out there? and he is at least more appealing as a player now than Terrell Owens. Owens, after all, got cut by Seattle for not meeting the Seahawks admittedly low receiving standard, while Johnson got banished from Miami in large part for being an irritant.But these Raiders arent the Raiders who would have swallowed up Johnson well before this. Not Al Davis Raiders, and not Hue Jacksons Raiders. Indeed, this is another revealing moment for Allen as he asks himself the question, How flexible must I be in deviating from the master plan?It must be noted that we do not know how much game Johnson has left. Ignoring the turmoil of his private life, he has played 11 full hard years, four full seasons since his last elite year.Moreover, he wont have the Randy Moss role in San Francisco, because he would be an emergency signing and not part of the overall scheme.But the point is, he could be a help to a team in need of it. Whether Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie are game for his kind of help will tell us much about what kind of team they want to build not just in the calm of the spring and summer, but the chaos of the fall.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
Running back Marshawn Lynch formally appealed his one-game suspension on Monday afternoon.
The Raiders hope to hear a ruling by Tuesday.
“I think we expect to hear something early in the week, hopefully by tomorrow,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a Monday press conference. “(It) would be the fairest thing so that the team can prepare.”
That’s the expectation, according to an ESPN report. The Raiders should know by Tuesday whether Lynch’s suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct will stand.
The suspension stems from a Thursday night incident where he left the sidelines to join an on-field fracas involving Raiders offensive linemen and Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters. The third-year pro was penalized for a late hit on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr his linemen didn’t take kindly.
Peters and Lynch are extremely close friends and Oakland natives, and Lynch instinctively went out to protect someone he views as family. He inadvertently grabbed an official by the jersey and let go shortly after. He was flagged and ejected by rule.
He missed most of Thursday’s 31-30 victory over the Chiefs, and the NFL suspended him one game without pay on Friday. That could cost Lynch a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.
ESPN reports that Peters by phone spoke at Lynch’s appeal hearing, where the running back’s team also cited precedent of others contacting an official without getting suspended. Leaving the sideline, however, may not help his appeal.
Del Rio said he hadn’t spoken with Lynch since the ejection.
“I said the other night I was disappointed that we had a player leave the bench,” Del Rio said. “It’s something we talk about – don’t leave the bench area.”
The Raiders ran with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington after Lynch’s ejection, and combined for 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The pair with shoulder a rushing load Sunday at Buffalo if Lynch is unavailable.
“They don’t have the size and the power but they have a little more quickness, they catch the ball a little easier, better route-runners, things like so,” Del Rio said. “So, if you’re playing a little more wide open, in some respects they give you a little more juice. Marshawn give you the power back when you want to finish people and in tough situations. Those guys give you more than a change of pace.”
Raiders receiver Amari Cooper has been creating steady separation for a few weeks now. That didn’t break him out of a prolonged slump.
Coaches were impressed by Cooper’s route running in a Week 5 loss to Baltimore. It only earned two targets and an eight-yard catch. They tried to find No. 89 more often in a Week 6 loss to the L.A. Chargers, though six targets generated five short catches for 28 yards.
Low production stretched through a four-game losing streak, with nine catches for 51 yards. Including stats from to early wins, Coopers season stats (18 catches, 146 yards and a touchdown) were worse than nearly 200 others.
Even that astonishment didn’t make Cooper demand the gosh darn football, please. The low-key Cooper attitude: The ball will find me.
It finally did in Thursday night’s 31-30 victory over Kansas City. Several times in fact.
Cooper had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 19 times. Nineteen. That’s no coincidence.
They moved him around, including significant snaps in the slot. He was targeted 11 times from that position, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, and produced six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
They schemed opportunities and quarterback Derek Carr used them to create big plays early.
Carr’s first pass went 12-yards to Cooper. His third was a 38-yard touchdown strike. His seventh was an in-stride delivery that Cooper took across and then up the field for a 45-yard score.
Just like that, Cooper was off and running for the first time this year.
“We put him in positions to make plays, obviously,” Carr said. “We knew that there were certain things that we liked. Nothing changed in his demeanor or his mentality or the way he worked or anything like that. We just stayed the course. We know what we have here and we know that if we just stay the course and work and grind through the tough times.
“…For ‘Coop’ to just continue to grind and get on the other side of it, I just felt good for him. You guys know Amari. I think we all felt good for him.”
Cooper said the early explosive touches provided confidence. Ability produced a signature performance. The Alabama product is excellent extending production with his legs, and had 78 of his yards come after the catch. That’s an average of 7.1 yards after the catch per reception, per PFF.
His second touchdown reached him 15 yards downfield, and he hit the jets and reached the end zone. He turned a short catch into 15 crucial yards to start the game-winning two-minute drill, and later high pointed a 39-yard receptions.
“The way he finished after the catch was really special,” Carr said. “Obviously, we all know he can go up and get a ball and all those things. That second touchdown where he cam across, the burst that he had, that’s freakish. Not a lot of guys have that. To turn the jets on like that and just out run the angles of the defense, that was really special. I think just after the catch he just played with some dog in him, which we know he has. We were able to get him the ball and let him shine and do what he does.”
Cooper’s showcase was vital to a huge victory that kept his team in the hunt. It also ended a rough month where Cooper and the Raiders both struggled. Veteran running mate Michael Crabtree was never concerned with the downturn and told the young receiver to stay the course during tough times.
“(I told him), ‘Just be you,’” Crabtree said. “It’s just about everything coming together. Coop’s a fighter, man. Coop has got skills. I don’t worry about Coop and I’m sure he doesn’t worry about me. That’s why we are so good together.”