Instant Analysis: Carr returns, but Raiders fall to last place in AFC West


Instant Analysis: Carr returns, but Raiders fall to last place in AFC West


OAKLAND – The Raiders were mired in a three game losing streak heading into Sunday’s AFC West clash with the Chargers. Something had to change.

Head coach Jack Del Rio knew it. And had no problem saying it out loud.

“We need (a win) pretty bad,” Del Rio said. “If there’s a desperation meter, we want it pretty bad.”

The Raiders had to turn things around, with margin for error rapidly heading for zero.

Desire was there. Execution, however, was not.

The Raiders lost another one marked with a ‘W’ on paper, losing 17-16 to the Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Coliseum.

Now they’re in last place in a tough division, with a few days to rebound for a Thursday night game against Kansas City.

The difference, on the score line at least, was Giorgio Taveccho’s missed extra point. Jon Condo sent in a high snap and Marquette King had to rush the hold, and Tavecchio couldn’t put it through.

Derek Carr was okay in his return from a back injury. He completed 21-of-30 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Raiders had a chance to put it away on offense, with up two points with roughly six minutes remaining. They went three and out.

The Chargers marched downfield and set up Nick Novak’s 32-yard field goal when time expired.

Defense kept the Raiders in this game early.

Carr’s first pass was intercepted, but the defense held strong and forced a field goal attempt that was missed.

They were strong on third down all day, forced a turnover on downs in the first half.

Carr threw a second pick that ended a long drive without points, but Dexter McDonald forced a fumble and David Amerson got it back.

That held a 10-7 halftime lead into the fourth quarter, with a game in the balance late.

Michael Crabtree’s 23-yard touchdown catch and run opened the scoring and was the Raiders lone offensive highlight. It capped an 11-play drive dominated by Marshawn Lynch’s tough running and short passes, a strategy that didn’t hold strong.

Giorgio Tavecchio ended the first half with a 44-yard field goal. He remains perfect on the year.

Things got tense late. Melvin Gordon – who killed the Raiders as a receiver – scored his second touchdown of the day with a 6-yard screen pass. That put the Chargers up for a bit.

Cordarrelle Patterson responded with a 47-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep where he turned the corner, found space and hit the afterburners to score a vital touchdown. Tavecchio missed the extra point, which put the Raiders up two at 16-14.

Marshawn movin’ well:Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was efficient against a lackluster L.A. run defense, fighting through tackles to set a positive early tone.

He finished with 63 yards on 13 carries, his best performance of the year since the season-opener. 

Cooper rets record: Receiver Amari Cooper had four catches for 23 yards in his previous four games. He had 25 yards in two-plus quarters Sunday against the Chargers.

His fourth catch also put him in rarified air. It was the 173rd of his career, more than any Raider over his first three seasons. Running back Marcus Allen previously held that record.

The Raiders got Cooper involved early, with some short passes aimed his way. He finished with five catches for 28 yards, though holding negated a 31-yard strike down the right sideline.

Carr’s return: Raiders starting quarterback missed but one game with a transverse process fracture in his back. His return didn’t start well. Trevor Williams intercepted his first pass, but the Chargers didn’t turn the mistake into points.

He led some successful drives, and ultimately completed 21-of-30 passes for one touchdown and two interceptions.

He wasn’t perfect. Carr seemed off target at times, and struggled working the ball downfield.

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”