Raiders key matchup No. 3: Allen vs. Fox


Raiders key matchup No. 3: Allen vs. Fox

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Broncos matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (CBS) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Raiders HC Dennis Allen vs. Broncos HC John Fox
Tale of the tape
Allen: Rookie season as NFL head coach, coaching in NFL since 2002, Texas A&M
Fox: Second season in Denver, 11th season overall as NFL head coach, coaching in NFL since 1989, San Diego StateAllen has gone to great lengths this week to diffuse the storyline of his "homecoming" game in the Mile High City. And that's commendable.Still, the Raiders rookie head coach was Fox's defensive coordinator last year and a lot will be made of Allen matching wits with his former mentor.And that's unavoidable. Especially since both are defensive-minded coaches."Its a big game, but we cant get into individualism," Allen insisted. "This is a team game. We've got a challenge to face the Denver Broncos, and were going to come up with a good plan, our players will execute, and were going to go try to win a game."Still, there will at least be a twinge of nostalgia for Allen, the youngest head coach in the NFL who turned 40 on Saturday, when he steps on the field where he helped win a division title, right?"Sure, it will be a different feel," he admitted. "It will be a different feel. But thats another one of those distractions that you cant let take over. Its not about me, its not about Dennis Allen vs. the Denver Broncos. Its about the Oakland Raiders vs. the Denver Broncos. Were going to need a lot more than just me out there to go win a game. So our focus is going to be on our team trying to exploit whatever weaknesses Denver has and eliminate the times that theyre able to exploit whatever vulnerabilities we have."Fox, 57, said it would be "a lot of fun" to match wits with his former charge and had more than an inkling Allen would be a head coach one day.You could tell early on, just in the interview process, that first of all, hes very smart," Fox said. "Second of all, the way he carries himself. Hes a guy with what I call the 'It' factor. So it did not surprise me that people looking for coaches in the league were interested in talking with him. Obviously he and Reggie (McKenzie) hit it off. So it doesnt surprise me at all."I think the world of him and his family. But like all NFL contests, it's very competitive."The lovefest is a two-way street, so to speak, and Allen admired the way in which Fox handled the Tim Tebow situation last year and did not allow it to derail the Broncos from not only from an AFC West championship, but a playoff game victory."He's not afraid to make the tough decisions," Allen said. "He believes in a lot of the same things that I believe in. He's always had a tough, smart, disciplined football team, and I believe in those same things. And he's not afraid to make tough decisions, and as you continue to go on being a head coach you learn that you've got to make a lot of tough decisions in this job."So yeah, Allen sought Fox's counsel when the Raiders job opened up. Fox was the Raiders defensive coordinator in 1994 and 1995. "Absolutely, I talked to him about a lot of different things," Allen said. "And at the end of the day he said, 'Go there and you'll do a great job, and you're ready for the job.'"And I've talked to him since then, and he doesn't give me all he secrets, but yeah, he's helped me out a lot."How much, exactly, might be determined Sunday.

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'


Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”

Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl


Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is headed to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He became eligible once New England qualified for the Super Bowl and Tom Brady was out of the running for next week’s NFL all-star game in Orlando.

Carr was the next alternate up, and accepted the invitation to represent the Silver and Black. Khalil Mack, Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn were named to the original roster, though Penn has bowed out with injury.

Carr will join his teammates in Florida for game-week festivities, followed by the inter-conference clash on Sunday at noon at Camping World Stadium. The game can be seen on ABC.

He joins Rich Gannon and Ken Stabler as Raiders quarterbacks with at least three Pro Bowl selections. Carr had a down year relative to his previous two, but still posted standout numbers. He had 3,496 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 86.4 passer rating.

The Raiders finished a disappointing 6-10, and head coach Jack Del Rio was fired in favor of Jon Gruden.

“It was not the year we wanted, but to still be recognized by you, Raider Nation and fans everywhere, and the players and coaches you go against is an extremely high honor I will always be thankful for!” Carr wrote in a note posted on Twitter. “Although I am extremely blessed to be thought of in such a way by my peers, I understand there is more work to do. There is more to achieve and more to accomplish and I will now ret until we get there, Raider Nation!”