Raiders

Instant Analysis: Ugly loss to Pats in Mexico City sums up Raiders' season

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Instant Analysis: Ugly loss to Pats in Mexico City sums up Raiders' season

BOX SCORE

MEXICO CITY – There was a point this summer when the Raiders were a fun, sexy selection to challenge New England for AFC supremacy.

That hot take hath frozen over.

The Raiders have meandered through a disappointing season in the middle of the conference. And, in case there was any doubt, the Patriots proved Sunday that they’re still king.

They flat whooped the Raiders in Mexico City. The Silver and Black got outplayed, outcoached, outschemed, out-everythinged at Estadio Azteca, looking like a team unworthy of playoff consideration.

NOTE: The paragraphs above were written at halftime. That’s when this game was over.

The Patriots took a three-score lead and a shutout into the break. The Raiders offered little resistance then or later on, killing themselves time and again with inexcusable mistakes.

All that resulted in a 33-8 beat down.

This was Week 3 in Washington all over again, maybe worse. The Raiders haven’t played this bad in years, maybe in the entire Jack Del Rio era.

Despite all that, the Silver and Black are still in it. The Kansas City Chiefs are in a free fall, and dropped to 6-4 after losing to the lowly New York Giants.

The Raiders remain two games back in the AFC West and are still in the wild-card hunt, though their margin for error is officially nil. They need to go on a run there’s zero indication they can make, with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Dallas among those left on the slate.

Mathematically speaking, the Raiders can still finish 10-6.

We all know they won’t. The Raiders haven’t been on a winning streak since Week 2 thanks to maddening inconsistency and, at times, simply awful play.

They surely can’t compete with the NFL’s elite, a point the Patriots made crystal clear.

New England dominated from the outset, with a long touchdown drive the Raiders never answered.

The game formally turned late in the second quarter, with the Raiders driving down 14-0. They were marched toward the end zone when receiver Seth Roberts left the ball away from his body and got it knocked free. The Patriots recovered, worked downfield in no time and set up Stephen Gostowski’s 62-yard field goal.

That gave New England a three-score lead extended to four on the Patriots’ third play of the third quarter. Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on a 64-yard touchdown. The conclusion was forgone, but that play was a dagger to the heart.

It also negated the one thing the Raiders did well. Marshawn Lynch ran effectively throughout, but the score eliminated his opportunities. He had xx yards on xx carries, and looked ready to take over a game. When you’re down so far, you gotta throw.

That posed a problem. Derek Carr was passing to receivers with a case of the drops that routinely stalled drives.

The offense never found a rhythm, the defense got beat soundly by Tom Brady’s brilliance. All that coming off a bye.

Each part of the Raiders organization deserves blame for this loss and this disappointing season. The personnel department failed to address voids on the roster. The coaching staff got outschemed despite having extra time to prepare, and the players failed to execute well.

And yet, as we stated earlier, the Raiders are still in it. The only way they stay there is by playing far better than they did on Sunday, and there’s little confidence the Silver and Black are capable of that.

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

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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

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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.”