Paul G's Instant Replay: Saints 38, Raiders 17


Paul G's Instant Replay: Saints 38, Raiders 17


Paul Gutierrez's Insider Take of the Raiders' 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday at the ColiseumOAKLAND -- Marcel Reece rushed for a career-high 103 yards, on 19 carries, Carson Palmer extended his franchise record for 200-plus yard passing games to 16, with 312 yards through the air, and the defense showed up in spurts.But none if it was enough against a New Orleans team hitting its stride and running roughshod over Oakland to the tune of a 38-17 Saints victory. Palmer, though, had two costly interceptions, a pick-6 and also was intercepted in the end zone when his pass went through Brandon Myers' hands.Saints quarterback Drew Brees improved to 7-0 with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in his career against the Raiders after going 20-of-27 for 219 yards with three TDs.The Raiders' losing streak reached three games and they have been outscored by a combined 135-69 in that stretch.Late scoring run ends: The Raiders could not score in the final two minutes of the first half, ending their streak of doing just that in the first nine games of the season.Joselio Hanson, playmaker?: Simmer down. But at least the diminutive slot defensive back made his presence known. First, he forced a fumble by Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, though New Orleans recovered. One play later, Hanson blitzed and forced Drew Brees to take an intentional grounding penalty. Then, on the opening kickoff of the second half, Hanson ran down Travaris Cadet, saving a touchdown.Third-quarter woes redux: After getting outscored 14-3 in the third quarter, the Raiders have now been outscored by a combined 123-34 in the third this season, the worst such margin in the NFL.Automatic SeaBass: Even when he's off, he's on. Sebastian Janikowski's 40-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter bounced off the left upright but still went through. It was his 22nd made field goal of the season in 23 attempts, the lone miss being a record-attempting 64-yarder at the end of regulation against Jacksonville.Winning at something: After winning a challenge that overturned a 29-yard reception by Travaris Cadet, Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen improved to seven-for-seven in challenges, including the preseason, this year. So he's got that going for himwhich is nice.Flores keeps it real: Nothing like listening to a guy with four Super Bowl rings break it down on the radio, and Tom Flores kept up his brutal assessment of the Raiders defense. When Lance Moore somehow got behind Michael Huff and Mike Mitchell for a 38-yard TD on 3rd and 13, Flores spared no one. "It's beyond me how that can happen," Flores said. "Two defensive backs let a guy get behind themyou can't have brain cramps back there."Up next: The Raiders (3-7) travel to Cincinnati to face the suddenly surging Bengals (5-5), who thumped Kansas City, 28-6, Sunday and have former Oakland coach Hue Jackson on their sidelines as an assistant. It will also be a homecoming, of sorts, for Carson Palmer, the No. 1 overall pick of the Bengals in 2003.

Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs


Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs

ALAMEDA – NaVorro Bowman was a sponge this week, absorbing the Raiders defense as quickly as possible.

The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders Monday afternoon and did enough to play Thursday night’s pivotal home game against Kansas City.

That’s a huge plus for a Raiders team looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Bowman should be able to help right away despite being new to the scheme.

“He’s a veteran. He understands ball,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday. “We haven’t tried to install the entire playbook, but specific game plans and things. He’s had a good week. Even though it’s a short week, we feel good and he’ll play.”

He’ll probably start at inside linebacker and play the base defense as least. While many have criticized his speed and coverage skills diminished from major injuries, Bowman remains a sure tackler who can provide solid on-field leadership.

Veteran savvy and natural ability should carry Bowman while he masters a new scheme, allowing him to make the immediate impact required with the Raiders reeling at 2-4.

“He is very instinctive,” Del Rio said. "He’s a veteran guy that’s been there before. He understands what it looks like to lineup against a good football team and help us win.”

Bowman’s fresh and healthy, a step above his others at his position. Inside linebackers Cory James (knee), Marquel Lee (ankle) and Nicholas Morrow (ankle) are all questionable heading into Thursday’s game.

He has also been a willing teacher to a group of inside linebackers featuring a second-year pro and three rookies.

“They’re just soaking it up,” Del Rio said. “They’ll ask, ‘When do you lift? How often do you lift? When do you meet? When do you cover this?’ It’s good stuff to have for a really young group.”

In other injury news, right tackle Marshall Newhouse is out, leaving Vadal Alexander to start in his spot. David Sharpe should be the swing tackle in reserve.

Downing: Raiders offense off track, answers exist ‘in our scheme’


Downing: Raiders offense off track, answers exist ‘in our scheme’

ALAMEDA – Todd Downing has friends with fantasy football teams. Those faux general managers, like many across the roto world, took Raiders with high draft picks.

They would like to know why Derek Carr isn’t throwing touchdowns in bulk, Amari Cooper’s in a slump and Marshawn Lynch isn’t getting more carries.

“I have friends that have him on their fantasy team that are mad at me for that,” Downing said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s part of the business.”

Ah, the life of an NFL coordinator. Players get credit when things go right. Play callers sit over a Bunsen burner the rest of the time.

Downing understands that part of this gig.

“I welcome the responsibility that this job has afforded me,” he said. “I understand that I’m going to have to deal with negative comments and consequences when things aren’t going well. I’m looking forward to standing up here in a more positive fashion some time soon.”

Positives were expected right away. He was given the keys to a Lamborghini with a franchise quarterback under center, 1,000-yard receivers on each flank, an older back considered among the best of his generation, and the NFL’s biggest and most expensive offensive line.

The Raiders ranked No. 6 in total offense before adding Lynch, tight end Jared Cook and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency. Now they’re 30th heading into Thursday night’s game against Kansas City.

The mob is lighting torches, armed with pitchforks. After six weeks.

Everyone has an opinion on what’s wrong and how to fix this offense. More interior runs, less outside zone. More play action, please. Go deep, a lot. Have Derek hold on to the ball longer. Have Derek get rid of it quick. Do all that at once. Do it now.

Downing’s going to stick with his system. The Raiders will stick with their process, thank you very much, with faith that things will turn.

“When you look at the tape, you can see that we’re so close on so many things,” Downing said. “I know that sounds cliché and I know that sounds like someone sitting up here and trying to give you the rose-colored glasses, but it’s the truth. We know that we’re just this close to making a couple more plays each game and being able to come out on top and feeling like we put together a good product.

“…We’re looking for answers right now, but we know those answers exist in our room and in our scheme. Once we hit our stride, we’re excited to see what it looks like.”

There’s reason to believe that can happen. Take the season’s first two games, for example. The Raiders scored 71 points in that span. There’s talent everywhere in the starting lineup and behind it.

That’s why concern reigns during a four-game losing streak where the offense is averaging 13.1 points. They can’t sustain drives, come through on third down or block consistently in the run game. Their play count is dismally low. According to the Associated Press, the Raiders aver averaging 54 plays per game. Every other team has at least 60. The 2005 49ers were the last team that averaged such a sum. The Raiders haven’t had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher or a 100-yard receiver.

Offense is blamed for a dismal 2-4 start. Even the universally beloved Carr has taken some heat for lackluster performances.

“I don’t think there’s a single guy that can look back over the last few weeks and say, ‘You know what, I’m really pleased with how I’ve played over the last three weeks,’ or, ‘Called the last three weeks’ or, ‘Coached my position the last three weeks.’ We all own this together,” Downing said. “There’s no one guy that is going to save it or break it or anything in between. We need to do this as a team and everybody needs to make the plays they’re afforded the opportunity to make and I need to call the right plays when afforded the opportunity to call them.”

The Raiders can and must do better before falling further. Righting the ship too late to reach the season’s goals might hurt as much as a completely dismal campaign.

Pressing, however, isn’t the answer.

“You do have to stay patient,” Downing said. “I tell the offense this every week, but it’s never been more true than where we’re at now as an offense. We have a belief in what we’ve done this far, and the system we’ve put in place, and the playmakers we have in that room, and the coaches that are up in the room with me, and you will never see me waiver in my belief of any single one of those guys, including myself. If I did, and I started acting different or started calling games differently, then that would mean I didn’t really believe in the first place.”