Despite a lack of depth in the Raiders receiving corps, general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday he was not interested in acquiring any of the currently unemployed veterans still looking for work.That means the not-so-Holy Trinity of wideouts Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens are not headed to Oakland, even with only five healthy wideouts on the roster."It's not just (their) age," McKenzie told the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune. "If the right player could add to the groupwe just didn't feel those three were the right ones. Clear and simple. If I felt like they could have added something to what we were doing, I would have strongly considered it."Currently, Darrius Heyward-Bey is Oakland's No. 1 receiver while Denarius Moore is expected to make his season debut Sunday at Miami after dealing with a balky right hamstring since June. Then there's rookie Rod Streater, who started his fifth-round draft pick Juron Criner, who is dealing with a sore right ankle, and veteran Derek Hagan, who is still learning the playbook after signing last week.Otherwise, Jacoby Ford underwent Lisfranc surgery Tuesday that might end his season and the Raiders also have Travionte Session on the practice squad."It starts with a foundation and you have to have the guys around long enough to develop and see that development," McKenzie added to the newspapers. "And we do have a couple of guyswe were just hit with injuries at that position so early, especially with your No. 1 going down. Then, a guy like Jacoby, who we had plans for."Going into it, you felt good but you miss one guy and that can trickle down quickly. If we add guys, I want to make sure and add a guy that's going to help this team. I just didn't think those three guys were the guys."
Paul Guenther hasn’t been Raiders defensive coordinator long. He has been in Alameda about a week now, interviewing potential position coaches and pouring over last year’s game tape.
He has some initial impressions on the group that struggled at the start and improved throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, Guenther sees talent on the roster.
“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” Guenther said Wednesday in a conference call. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there are a lot of good pieces here for a foundation, for sure.”
Guenther’s system, where it came from and why he brought it to Oakland is a story for another day. Thursday morning, to be precise, so stay tuned for that.
Guenther’s early evaluation of key Raiders, however, supports his statement about a strong foundation. He is most excited, as you’d expect, about working with edge rusher Khalil Mack and several others in silver and black.
Here’s what Guenther said about…
-- DE KHALIL MACK: “Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense. We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”
-- CB GAREON CONLEY: “He was my favorite corner coming out. His ability, he’s smooth in the pedal, he’s a good press corner, which we love to have. I’m excited to work with him.”
-- S OBI MELIFONWU: “Obi is a big guy that when you turn on the tape, you’re like, ‘Man, who is this son of a gun?’ He’s playing half the field, he’s down in the box playing the run.”
-- LB NAVORRO BOWMAN: (an impending free agent): “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really. The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”
Quarterback Derek Carr’s stage is set for a giant step forward.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks it happened the moment Jon Gruden became Raiders head coach, though not solely due to the mentor and his proven offensive system. It’s also the 10-year contract formally bringing him back. There’s no telling whether Gruden mans his post a full decade, but an extended stretch is guaranteed.
That in itself, Olson, says, is invaluable to a passer entering his fifth season with a fourth head coach and third offensive scheme.
“Probably more so than anything,” Olson said, “this guy has to get some continuity.”
Gruden will provide that, with Olson a link to Carr’s past. Olson was Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and guided Carr’s rookie campaign. Quarterback and coordinator worked well together a 3-13 season where the Fresno State alum started every game.
They’ll reunite under Gruden and stick together this time. Olson, after all, signed a four-year deal that’s double the industry standard.
“Derek is going to be in a system now,” Olson said Wednesday in a conference call with local media. “He’s going to be coached by a head coach that’s going to be the play caller. That’s the first time Derek will have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.”
Carr’s trajectory went straight up from his rookie season with Olson through the next two years – he was a legit MVP candidate in 2016 -- though it markedly dipped during a disappointing 6-10 campaign.
Gruden and Olson are generally charged with fixing an offense with talent but little production last year, though their primary objective remains more specific.
Get Carr back on track.
“Everything we do in this building is going to be about the development of Derek Carr,” Olson said. “The way we script practices, the way we are doing drills, everything that we do is all about the development of the quarterback. That will really speed the development of Derek. More so than anything is that there’s somebody here in place that’s going to make everything that we do and that everyone in the building understand that we grow as Derek Carr grows.”
Olson knows first-hand about Carr’s work ethic and acumen. He has seen athleticism, passing accuracy and a quick release turn football smarts into production. He told Gruden all that following the 2014 season, and believes Carr’s presence was an attraction to take the Raiders job.
“We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback," Olson said. "We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It’s up to us to try and get that out of him. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens."