Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch: Palmer vs. Chargers defense


Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch: Palmer vs. Chargers defense

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a three-part series that spotlighted three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Monday, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN) at Coliseum.Tale of the tape
Palmer: 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Chargers 'D': No. 16 total defense in 2011, No. 13 against the passTo say Carson Palmer has feasted on the Chargers defense throughout his career would be an understatement.Consider: he has a 122.5 career passing rating against San Diego, having completed 116 of 166 passes (69.9 percent) for 1,739 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. And he's even better as the home QB, averaging 354.3 yards passing in the friendly confines.Not that that means much to Palmer at the moment."Its a good unit," he said. "Defensively theyve looked really good on film in the preseason. They played well against us last year in the finale. Their offense can score a ton of points. There are a lot of things to worry about. Theyve got a new coordinator. Week one you never know exactly what youre going to see. Youve got to be ready for everything."Were not real, real comfortable going into this. Weve had a great start to the week, were working extremely hard and were going to go in and we know we have to play our best football offensively to come out with the win."The Chargers are breaking in a new defensive coordinator in John Pagano, who had been their linebackers coach the previous four years and on the San Diego staff since 2002."Johns been here through all of this, all the way back to Wade Phillips," said Chargers coach Norv Turner. "I think we will be a mix of a lot of things weve done in the past. I think Johns experiences with the guys hes been with and his background is youre going to do what you have to do to match up with the team youre playing. We want to be a complete defense that has flexibility and is hopefully unpredictable."The Raiders will be tough for Pagano to gameplan against, though, if simply for the reason Palmer will share the backfield with Darren McFadden for the first time in a game that counts.The two should make each other all the more dangerous."Its been such a tease in the preseason because hes really only gotten a series here and there," Palmer said of McFadden. "I have no idea. Im like a kid in a candy store, I cant wait. Just the little that weve seen of him in the preseason, he brings so much to the field, and Im more excited about that than anything."The Raiders are 7-2 when McFadden rushes for at least 100 yards. McFadden is also averaging 5.5 yards per carry against the AFC West.So yeah, McFadden should make Palmer's job easier, so long as Palmer does not get enticed into a shootout with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers."Were playing against Shaun Phillips and (Eric) Weddle and all those guys up front," Palmer said. "You cant worry about what theyre doing on offense. You cant force things because of how things go early. Youve got to take your completions when you can, and try to find ways to get touchdowns in the red zone and not field goals."Its a division game, a rivalry game. Those are always more important. I understand the importance of, especially early in the season, getting a division win is huge. There has been a longstanding tradition. This rivalry between these two teams is a big deal to the fan bases. Its a fight between Northern and Southern California." GUTIERREZ: Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch: Shaughnessy vs. Harris Streater vs. Jammer
Especially with the way the Raiders' season ended on New Year's Day, with a pratfall in playing host to the Chargers with a playoff berth on the line."We are well aware of who knocked us out," Palmer said. "Weve talked about that. We understand. We havent forgotten what happened last year."

Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’


Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’

Jon Gruden asked to speak with Marshawn Lynch several times but got turned down.

His job title earned an automatic veto. The enigmatic running back doesn’t talk to the press, even a Monday Night Football analyst with Gruden’s street cred. No production meetings, no insight flowing outside the inner circle.

Lynch must honor the next request. Gruden’s his boss, after all.

“I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him,” the new Raiders head coach said Tuesday during his introductory press conference. “We’ll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can’t wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did. I think he loves Oakland. I think he loves the Raiders and guys like him interest me, so I’m looking forward to talking to him.”

The veteran running back and Oakland native has a year left on a two-year deal struck last April. The 2018 payouts, per, include a $4 million base salary, a $250,000 workout bonus, a $1 million roster bonus and $750,000 in per-game roster bonuses. There are also significant performance-based incentives.

Marshawn is under contract, but also has some say in this matter. He could post an image of cleats hanging on a telephone wire like he did after the 2016 Super Bowl and call it a career. Lynch made it clear in a rare press conference that he didn’t miss football. He returned for the opportunity to play in front of a East Bay community he champions and bring attention to his significant charitable efforts.

There are several possible outcomes from the Gruden/Lynch tete-a-tete. Gruden might not consider him worth the while. Lynch may walk away, for good this time. Or, the two could traverse 2018 together.

Predicting Marshawn’s movements is a fool’s errand. We can, however, make an educated pros and cons list. Let’s take a look at some factors influencing the ultimate outcome.


-- The phrase in Gruden’s last sentence above may have tipped his hand: “Guys like him interest me.” Lynch is an intense presence, one of his generation’s most physical runners. Gruden can use on-field talents like him, though it’s uncertain whether he’s a perfect fit in an offense that has certainly evolved during nine years in the broadcast booth.

Also, Gruden loves Oakland. Lynch loves Oakland. That may be a good starting point.

-- Marshawn still has it. The 31-year old was the Raiders’ most productive skill player in 2017’s second half. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the last season games, totaling 625 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He also had at least 92 yards total offense in five of those contests. When he’s motivated and healthy – he didn’t miss a single practice with injury – Lynch can be a force on the ground

-- Gruden reportedly hired Tom Cable as offensive line coach a few days back. That’s probably a plus from Lynch’s perspective. Cable was Seattle offensive line coach, and heavily involved in the running game, during Lynch’s best seasons. He ran a system that fit Lynch well, though Gruden said schemes will be based around team strengths. Lynch and Cable reportedly get along well, and could be a major reason why Lynch finds it appetizing to return.

-- Lynch carried locker room clout. Last year’s coaching staff didn’t love him, but player certainly did.


-- Lynch comes with some baggage. He’s an eccentric sort who does his own thing, at times without regard for small rules. That may rub Gruden and staff the wrong way. It certainly bothered Del Rio’s crew, especially when he seemed to have his own set of rules.

The Raiders tolerated Lynch’s choice to sit during the national anthem all year, despite being vocal against such actions the year before. He also had a production crew following him around quite often, especially in camp.

He got suspended for sticking up for the other team in Week 7, protecting great friend, Oakland native and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters in an on-field altercation. He then practiced with his old high school during the suspension.

Gruden may not love the prospect of dealing with extra weight, depending on how strict he plans to be during this coaching tenure.

-- Lynch turns 32 in April. While Lynch might be an exception, running backs often fall off a production cliff in their early 30s. Can the Raiders get good value from Lynch at that age, knowing full well another running back might be added to the roster?

-- Lynch may simply not be into another year in Oakland. He enjoyed taking 2016 off, travelling the world and increasing charitable and business endeavors. Is his drive still strong?

Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff


Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff

Jon Gruden isn’t the only Raiders head coach returning to the Silver and Black.

Tom Cable’s on the way, albeit in a lesser role. Gruden already has the top job. Cable’s coming back, NFL Network reported Saturday afternoon, as offensive line coach.

He occupied that role in Oakland from 2007 until he assumed the head coach role when Lane Kiffin was fired five games into the 2008 season. The interim tag was lifted in 2009, and he coached the Raiders to an 8-8 record in 2010.

He followed that feat with the now famous quote, “We’re not losers anymore.” The Raiders had seven straight losing seasons before finishing .500 in what would be Cable’s last season with the club. He was 17-27 in two-plus seasons as Raiders head coach.

He went to Seattle after that, and spent seven seasons as Seahawks assistant head coach in charge of the offensive line. He also worked extensively with Marshawn Lynch during the rusher’s salad days in Seattle.

Cable returning to the Raiders seemed highly unlikely after late owner Al Davis detailed Cable’s misgivings in a post-firing press conference. Cable was allegedly involved in a 2009 incident where then Raiders assistant Randy Hanson was left with a broken jaw. ESPN also aired a report where three women accused Cable of domestic violence. One of Cable’s accusers sued Cable and named the Raiders as a co-defendant. Davis docked Cable’s pay in relation to that litigation.

Cable is a respected position coach, though the Seahawks offensive line has fallen on hard times. He and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were fired after a disappointing season where the Seahawks missed the postseason.

Offensive line coach was a top priority as Gruden built a staff. Cable is known for using a zone blocking scheme, though it remains uncertain what he’ll use in Oakland with a powerful, expensive offensive front locked in place save the right tackle spot.