Raiders' Mack: ‘Adversity hit us, and we didn’t handle it well’


Raiders' Mack: ‘Adversity hit us, and we didn’t handle it well’

The Raiders had realistic Super Bowl aspirations until starting quarterback Derek Carr got hurt two weeks ago now. An excellent season changed course, got caught in a tailspin and never pulled out of it.

The 2016 campaign crashed and burned on Saturday afternoon in Houston, with a 27-14 playoff loss to the Texans at NRG Stadium.

There is no next week, no shot at redemption. The cold, harsh reality set in quickly that these Raiders, who produced so many epic comebacks over the past four months but could not overcome Carr’s loss.

“When you lose an MVP, it takes a toll,” star edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “We really wanted to focus back in. You could tell it was a big hit for us.”

They kept on coming after that. Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn missed the playoff opener. Rodney Hudson got hurt during that game. Malcolm Smith and Michael Crabtree, too.

They limped across the finish, without an AFC West title or a playoff win to show for it. A 12-4 record is something to be proud of, but the Raiders wanted much more than that.

“Our season came to an end sooner than we wanted,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We got off to such a great start. Winning 12 games is not easy to do. It just came to an abrupt end the last two weeks. We were not able to do enough as a team to carry on.”

The Raiders lost twice after Carr got hurt. They got embarrassed in Denver, which put them back into the Wild Card pool. Then came the Houston debacle, where rookie quarterback Connor Cook was forced into action.

“A lot of adversity hit us, and we didn’t handle it well,” Mack said. “You see the results.”

The Raiders refused to blame injuries for their unfortunate end, those they certain explain how a potent offense turned listless and unable to keep pace against tough teams.

That led to an early exit and a disappointing finish that hits all at once.

“It just hurts to put so much work into something, and for it to end this way is difficult,” running back Latavius Murray said. “…I don’t think we need any games to show how valuable Derek Carr is. Everyone knows how important he is. He wasn’t available today. We knew all the things we had to do to win this game, but we just didn’t do it. We didn’t get the job done.”

The offense struggled mightily for obvious reasons, and Mack left Houston upset his defense couldn’t lead after Carr went down. They didn’t make any game-changing plays in the postseason, nothing that gave Cook and the offense a chance to keep up.

“You want to finish the season a lot stronger than we did,” Mack said. “Defensively, that hurt more than anything.

“The biggest takeaway from this season is that we have got to help the offense, defensively. We weren’t able to do that consistently. That’s my fault, and I take that.”

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.