Instant Replay: Raiders cough up AFC West, head to Houston as No. 5 seed

Instant Replay: Raiders cough up AFC West, head to Houston as No. 5 seed


DENVER – The Raiders miss Derek Carr. Really, really bad.

Their first game without their starting quarterback was a complete disaster that goes down as a 24-6 loss to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.

The Raiders came unglued early and never came back together, clearly still reeling from Carr’s broken fibula in last week’s win over Indianapolis.

He’s likely done for the season, leaving little hope the Raiders can recover and win a playoff game.

That will have to come on the road. The Raiders blew an opportunity to win the AFC West, secure the AFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. A win in Denver would’ve sealed the deal. A Kansas City loss would’ve done the same, but the Chiefs stayed in the race by beating San Diego.

Now they’re a No. 5 seed, headed to Houston for a playoff showdown with the Texans.

The Raiders will have to remedy their quarterback situation if there’s any hope of winning in the postseason.

Matt McGloin was in charge filling in for Carr, but his first start of the season didn’t last long. He suffered a shoulder injury late in the second quarter and did not return.

It became clear why Carr was an MVP candidate in the first half, when the Raiders offense struggled mightily with McGloin calling signals. He was inaccurate most of the day, and was worse after getting hit in the shoulder and neck area by Broncos defensive end Jared Crick.

Connor Cook took over late in the second quarter, and finished by completing 12-of-21 passes for 150 yards. He lost a fumble in the third quarter that led to more Denver points.

Cook was solid in spurts, especially on a three-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard touchdown strike to Amari Cooper. It was Cook’s first professional touchdown, which came in his first NFL game on the active roster.

Cook made some rookie mistakes including his fumble and a poorly thrown interception midway through the fourth quarter.

The rookie showed some arm talent but wasn’t able to get the Raiders going consistently, though a fumble lost by Johnny Holton hindered positive momentum after the Cooper touchdown.

It wasn’t just offense still unsettled after Carr’s injury. The defense seemed rattled as well. They didn’t tackle well, and got lethargic as the offense struggled. They were penalized heavily in their worst showing of the year.

The Raiders were never in this important game, and limp into the playoffs following an embarrassing display to end the regular season.

Crabtree over 1,000: Michael Crabtree went over 1,000 yards in the fourth quarter, making him and Amari Cooper the first Raiders receiving tandem to exceed 1,000 yards since 2001. Jerry Rice and Tim Brown accomplished the feat then.

Raiders weak at strong safety: Veteran safety Nate Allen suffered a concussion in the first half, which left the Raiders without quality options at strong safety.

Karl Joseph was inactive with a toe injury and Keith McGill was terrible stepping in for Allen. The Raiders turned to Brynden Trawick, primarily a special teams player, after that.

What’s next: The Raiders head on the road to play the Houston Texans in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs.

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.”