Notes: Washington, Richard 'played big,' paced Raiders run game vs Colts

Notes: Washington, Richard 'played big,' paced Raiders run game vs Colts

OAKLAND – The Raiders ran all over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon, taking yards in big chunks throughout a 33-25 victory at Oakland Coliseum.

All told, the Raiders had 210 yards on 37 carries, good for a 5.7-yard average. It wasn’t Latavius Murray doing the real damage. Rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard sliced their way through the Colts defensive front and paced the Raiders offense with steady production on the ground.

Washington had 99 yards and his first two professional touchdowns on 12 carries. Richard had six carries for 66 yards and three catches for 13 yards and a touchdown.

“I know we’ve been running the ball well all year,” Murray said. “I think it’s been a testament to everyone in the group. I’ve said that plenty of times. There’s no me without those two guys. They played big today.”

So did the offensive line. And receivers worked hard in the run game.

“We had a lot of room to run,” Richard said. “The guys up front did a great job getting us to the second level. After that, it’s on us as running backs to make people miss. We did that several times today, and were able to break some big runs.”

It was a big day for Washington who twice was a healthy scratch earlier this year.

“You never know when you’re going to be needed,” Washington said. “Today we were all needed as a group. I’m glad we had good success running the ball.”

Winning the turnover battle (again): The Raiders didn’t turn the ball over once, and took it away three times. They intercepted Colts quarterback Andrew Luck twice. Nate Allen had one pick, and Reggie Nelson stole another one in the end zone.

It marked the Pro Bowler’s fifth interception of the year and his 13th in the last two seasons.

Malcolm Smith also forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback TJ Carrie.

The Raiders have a plus-18 turnover margin, which is the NFL’s best.

Five straight touchdowns The Raiders jumped out of a commanding during a five-series stretch of touchdowns from the second and third quarters.

Washington scored twice and Richard, Clive Walford and Andre Holmes caught touchdown passes. Walford’s was dramatic, as he caught the ball just before the goal line, came to a complete stop and watched his man fly by before scoring.

This ‘n that: The Raiders improved to 12-3 for the first time since 2000. … The Raiders defense didn’t allow a score in the first quarter for the seventh time this season. … Menelik Watson made his third start at right tackle, but his first since Week 3. …DL Mario Edwards Jr. made his season debut after being activated off injured reserve.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.