Three things you need to know after Raiders' 30-17 loss to Ravens


Three things you need to know after Raiders' 30-17 loss to Ravens

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 30-17 loss to the Ravens in Week 5 on Sunday:

1. Raiders aren’t rebounding well

The Raiders have lost three straight games, and looked terrible doing it. They’ve started slow, struggled on third down offensively and defensively. Perceived strengths now look suspect, and the Raiders are reeling after failing to the Ravens Sunday afternoon.

The biggest takeaway: The Raiders haven’t responded well to adversity.

They were beat soundly by Washington in Week 3. They didn’t get off the mat against Denver in Week 4. They fell behind early against Baltimore and never recovered.

That leaves the Raiders in a rough spot, below .500 for the first time since 2015. They deserve to be there after a brutal stretch of play.

“It hurts, but Coach Jack said it best. You get what you earn,” strong safety Karl Joseph said. “We’ve earned 2-3. We have to dig ourselves out.”

2. Turnover drought continues

The 2016 Raiders defense wasn’t great. They allowed too many yards, too many points for Raider Nation’s liking. They made up for last year’s shortcomings by performing well under pressure.

They were solid in the fourth quarter and tallied 30 takeaways across all periods.

They can’t fall back on that early this season. The Raiders are struggling to create turnovers.

They have two defensive takeaways in five games now – two more came on special teams – and no interceptions to speak of. By contrast, the Ravens have nine.

The Raiders had a plus-16 turnover ratio last season. This year, they’re even.

That makes it especially hard to overcome slow starts, without the big plays required to turn on a dime.

“You have to be more opportunistic in practice, going after the ball,” Bruce Irvin said. “It starts there. You develop the second nature when you continuously do it in practice. It translates to Sunday. Be more aware of trying to get the ball in practice translates on Sunday.”

3. EJ Manuel a solid secondary option

Starting quarterback Derek Carr pushed to play Sunday, exactly a week after suffering a transverse process fracture in his back. That didn’t happen.

The Raiders started backup EJ Manuel, who was decent in extended action. He completed 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss. He extended drives with his legs, and came up big on several third downs.

“EJ pulled his heart out of his chest, especially on a few of those scrambles, getting the ball to playmakers to make plays,” tight end Jared Cook said. “He had one heck of a game, in my opinion.”

He ultimately didn’t score enough to erase a 21-3 lead, but certainly inspired confidence should he be called upon again.

He might not. Carr’s expected to play next week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and would take every snap thereafter if he remains healthy.

“I thought he did a pretty solid job as a backup guy coming into a tough situation and handled himself well,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Made a couple of third downs. Kept the drive, couple of key third downs and took them down to their lake to get within a score. We’ve got to do more defensively to get him more opportunities.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”