Raiders defense must 'reset our jaw' after poor effort vs Chiefs

Raiders defense must 'reset our jaw' after poor effort vs Chiefs

OAKLAND – The Raiders defense entered Sunday’s game dead last in yards allowed. Their 7.0 yards per play allowed was the worst by a country mile.

A 4-1 record, excellent third down defense and regular takeaways mitigated those issues, though players were worried they would haunt the Raiders down the road.

It wasn’t far down the pike. It came in a pivotal 26-10 home loss to Kansas City, one that muddled proceedings in the AFC West and dropped Oakland back into a tie for first in the division.

The defense got away with poor play and massive chunk yardage thanks to excellent third-down work and regular takeaways.

Those safeguards weren’t present Sunday, and a talented defense’s deficiencies were on full display.

“We’re not playing very well right now,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’re capable of more. We have to teach it better and do it better. It’s nowhere near what it needs to be.”

Inconsistency seems to be the main culprit, in the players’ eyes at least. The defense has fixed some issues, but not all. That might be the maddening part.

“The biggest issue is attention to detail,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It is not the guys going out there getting (out-muscled) or beat on every play. It is little details and the (opposing) offense doing things that mess with our eyes and us not being in the right spots on those plays.

“Those little details can turn into big gains. That adds up at the end of the day.”

Del Rio didn’t hold back after the game, saying the Raiders got outplayed and outcoached. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has come under fire after both losses. In the previous defeat against Atlanta, Del Rio said he took over some play-calling duties at the end.

That was not the case on Sunday.

“No, no,” Del Rio said. “Kenny’s got the headset.”

The Raiders defense was exposed with the offense struggling some, and it hasn’t proven it can win a game without significant help.

This was a big blow for a defense used to making a few big plays to keep the Raiders in it. That didn’t happen in a matchup the Chiefs offense controlled from the outset. They didn’t have a takeaway, allowed a 54 percent third-down conversion rate and allowed 183 yards on the ground.

“I can’t sit up here and make up any excuses for you all,” free safety Reggie Nelson said. “We just have to continue to reset our jaw and come back to work on Monday and get back after it.”

Edge rusher Bruce Irvin has been aggressive stating things must change quickly. They haven’t, after six games at least.

“I mean, it is frustrating,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “But, I still believe in this group. We feel like we have a great group of guys. We are going to continue to work and turn this thing around.”

Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys


Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys

The Raiders lured fullback Keith Smith away from Dallas in free agency. The Cowboys suddenly had a need at the position, and called a Raiders team with a surplus.

They wanted Jamize Olawale, a tough, faster-than-you-think blocking back with receiving skill.

A draft pick swap got it done.

The Raiders traded Olawale and the No. 192 overall pick to Dallas for the No. 173 overall selection. NFL Network first reported the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed trade details.

The Raiders didn’t have a fifth-round pick this year, but now have two after trading Olawale and WR Cordarrelle Patterson in combination with a glut of sixth-round selections. They still have four remaining.

Smith is more of a true blocking fullback Gruden sought. Olawale doesn’t fit that old school mold, but is a versatile player who can produce if used correctly. He has dealt with injuries in the recent past, which also may have been a knock against him.

This thins the running back room a bit, but more ball carriers will be jettisoned before the season starts.

The trade also saved $1.6 million in salary cap space, important for a team where every little bit counts this offseason.

Olawale returns to the team that originally signed him as an 2012 undrafted free agent. He was cut at preseason’s end, and picked up by Oakland. He enjoyed a productive tenure in silver and black, though he wasn’t used much by 2016 offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

The Raiders aren’t necessarily done in free agency. They have a little cap space left, and could look for another receiver or defensive lineman. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains on the open market, and the Raiders hope to have him back.

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.