Raiders

Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

The Raiders were approved to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas last week by a 31-1 vote of NFL ownership, but the Silver and Black won’t be packing up quite yet.

They could play as many as three seasons in a market they’re leaving, creating a limbo period that isn’t fun for many. That includes Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has been stressed about this move despite securing a sweetheart deal to build a new venue just off the Las Vegas Strip.

"I’m not celebrating anything like I would like to be,” Davis said Tuesday in an extended interview with 95.7-The Game host JT the Brick. “We’re building a world-class venue in the entertainment capital of the world that will be great for Super Bowls and big events, but I still have a feeling for the fans in the Bay Area. I’ve met with a number of them, and anything I say isn’t going to soothe them. It makes this whole thing bittersweet.”

Davis detailed several starts and stops in stadium talks with Oakland and Alameda County, explaining to fans why he eventually turned full attention to Las Vegas. He said the Raiders nearly had a term sheet for a stadium completed with development company Colony Capital, and that a 10-year lease extension between the Athletics and Oakland Coliseum in summer 2014 derailed that Raiders stadium effort.

Davis referred to that A’s lease as an obstacle several times during the interview where he said he exhausted options to stay in the Bay Area despite a desire to do so. He also said the NFL pushed hard to keep the Raiders in place.

“The only people Oakland was in competition with was themselves,” Davis said. ”If they could’ve come up with a deal that could’ve given us the land or leased it at reasonable terms and gave us the infrastructure and ability to find a developer to bridge the funding gap, we may have been able to do something on that site. I believe it’s a phenomenal. Sundays at that stadium are the greatest. …Plans the city had would downgrade that game day experience.”

Davis said he offered a 20-percent stake in the Raiders at favorable rates to development companies and Athletics ownership. Offering a stake to the Athletics was new information, something originally expressed when Davis and team president Marc Badain had lunch with then-A's owner Lew Wolff and another top executive. 

The Raiders wanted both teams to vacate the Coliseum site and return when two sport-specific stadia were complete. The A’s didn’t pursue that plan, and it didn't go much further. The Raiders kept trying different alternatives, Davis outlined in the interview, but weren't able to secure a stadium deal in the East Bay.

“We’ve tried to get help to build (a stadium) either with the A’s or on our own, but we do not want to build in the corner of that parking lot,” Davis said. “We were never going to do that. We want to build something that’s going to be great, a world-class stadium that the Raiders, the NFL and, most of all, the fans are proud of. That wasn’t going to happen.”

That, and a messy lease negotiation in 2016 shifted Davis' focus outside the market, where he eventually secured financing on a $1.7 billion stadium in Las Vegas that includes $750 million in public funds and a loan from Bank of America. 

The Raiders hold one-year lease options to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. Davis has said he hopes the Raiders will remain in the Bay Area in 2019 – his Las Vegas stadium won’t be ready until 2020 -- though the Oakland Coliseum authority has balked at that prospect. The Raiders could also play at Cal's Memorial Stadium or Levi's Stadium if they choose to remain in the Bay Area in 2019. Davis is adverse to renovating UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium for just one season, considering it won't permanently host any team beyond that season. 

Davis vowed to remain active in the Bay Area community before and after the Raiders leave, and hopes to shield his team and employees from fan ire over his decision to move.

“If there’s blame to be given, it should be aimed at me,” Davis said. “I’m the one who made the decision. My dream is for us to play out the next two, possibly three seasons in Oakland. I’d like to bring a championship to Oakland. I’m hoping that, in time, emotions will dry and that we’ll be able to do something of that nature.

“…I feel like I should say I understand that there is anger and disappointment, and that it should be pointed at me and not a Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Jack Del Rio. Those guys want to bring a championship to the Bay Area.”

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

pagano-raiders.jpg
USATSI

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

mack-irvin-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”