Opinions? Yeah, the first quarterback in franchise history and the only coach to win two Super Bowls for the Raiders has some.But as a team radio broadcaster and long-time confidante of the late Al Davis, Tom Flores has mostly kept his thoughts to himself. But in a wide-ranging interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "The End Zone" show this weekend, Flores did broach several topics.He said, "Time will tell whether that was a good trade or not," in regards to the deal brokered by Hue Jackson and OK'd by Mark Davis that landed the Raiders Carson Palmer in exchange for a first-round draft pick as well as a conditional second-rounder.Flores was also asked how his Raiders teams were able to overcome penalties to win games while the more recent vintage teams could not, especially last year's team that set league records with 163 penalties for 1,358 yards."We were always good enough to win," Flores said. "We had good enough players to win, overcome the penalties, overcome the turnovers, but they're not good enough to do that right now and they've got to have a little bit more discipline and I think, in my opinion, they've got to have better linebacker play."Which, of course, led to some pointed criticism of middle linebacker Rolando McClain."I think he was a disappointment last year," Flores said of McClain. "One play he'll look like an All-Pro and then the other play he'll look just like an average guy. And then the fiasco when he went home for an occasion, that didn't go over too well. But he's got to prove himself still, in my opinion. He hasn't lived up to expectations so I think there's still some speculation there."In this corner, Flores deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for the trails he blazed in the NFL as a player, coach and general manager. Following then, some Canton-worthy thoughts of Flores on several other Raiders-related topicsOn the upcoming division race: "I think it's exciting, I think it's a good time to be in the AFC West because I think the whole thing is up for grabs. I don't think there's any team that you're going to say right now is going to dominate the division."On Oakland's chances in the AFC West: "The Raiders have a very young team. Very fast but very young, and they need to grow uplast year, there were about two or three games they dominated for three quarters and then lose it in the fourth and that kept them out of the playoffs."On a certain high-priced defensive back the Raiders cut this offseason: "They got rid of Stanford Routt. Whether that's a good thing or not? He made plays, and then he made plays for the other team with all the pass interference calls that he had. He led the league in pass interference."On the recent reunionlife celebration held in Las Vegas for Al Davis that was attended by 300 people: "A great final standoff to somebody that I was with for many, many yearssome warm and fuzzy (stories), some not so warm and fuzzy. But you know the old saying Whatever happens in Vegas stays there? Some of the stories we better leave them there."On the Raiders' biggest weakness on defense: "I think most of it came from the linebacker position. I think the defensive line is pretty solid(Aaron) Curry, I think, came on well last year. That was a good acquisition when they got him from Seattle. He's the only one right now I'm feeling pretty good about. The rest of them all have to rise, or somebody has to rise to the occasion on the other two positions. And then a lot of it depends on what they're going to try to play. Their outside linebackers last year, most of them with the exception of Curry, were pass rushers, instead of linebackers."On the ongoing regime change in Oakland with new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who played linebacker for Flores: "I like it right now, I sure do. He's had to come in and change (things). The team was not caught in time, but as long as Al Davis was alive and running the show it could be run the way it was run. But now with him gone, they've got to go to the next level or the next generation, the next era, I should say, and Reggie will bring some experience that he gained under Ron Wolff in Green Bay and on his own in Green Bay, pretty good solid organization. So it's going to be a different style."
NaVorro Bowman’s employment odyssey lasted three days, and he didn’t have to get his mailing address changed.
The one-year, $3 million deal he reportedly signed with Oakland Monday came after a fairly quiet weekend for all parties. It was an easy choice for him, since there is minimal disruption, and an easy choice for Oakland, which needs all the defensive expertise it can get and has players that Bowman’s diminishing speed cannot expose.
In other words, everyone ends up happy . . . unless Bowman suddenly improves to the point where John Lynch has some ‘splainin’ to do.
The Raiders and 49ers have often shared players, thus belying their often overblown rivalry. The convenience was too . . . well, convenient, and will not be in evidence once Las Vegas becomes an NFL city.
And lord known the Raiders need some new voices in a room that has seemingly gone stale as expectations start to brown into disappointment. Bowman brings an effervescence borne of deep playoff runs, without being too loud a voice in a room that needs to develop more permanent leadership.
As to how much any of this translates into improved defensive play, or just a better vibe coming from Oaktown, well, put it this way.
If Bowman can stanch that level of bleeding, he shouldn’t be playing, he should be an EMT.
But at least he won’t end his career with a sour meeting with the people who run his original team, and that must count for something.
ALAMEDA – Former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman visited with the Raiders on Monday, with other team meetings left on the schedule.
He cancelled them all.
The former All-Pro inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, Jack Del Rio announced Monday during his press conference. According to multiple reports, the deal is a one-year, $3 million contract. The Dallas Cowboys website first reported the agreement. He had a meeting with the Cowboys set for Tuesday.
Bowman fills a huge need in the Raiders defense. They need experience and depth on the inside. Bowman certainly provides that. Recent play suggests he isn’t the top-flight player of recent years, seeming slowed by past injuries to his knee and Achilles’ tendon.
He hasn’t forgotten how to tackle or play the run or make pre-snap reads. The Raiders need help in all those areas. They have been playing with rookie Marquel Lee and second-year pro Cory James in the base defense. Both guys are dealing with injuries, making this move even more valuable.
The Raiders are operating on a short week, but Bowman’s healthy and obviously in great shape, making it possible Bowman could play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
"Not out of the question," Del Rio said when asked if Bowman could play Thursday night.
That's a quick turnaround for someone entering a new scheme with brand new terminology, but he could fit in certain packages right away and help against the run.
The Raiders also need help on passing downs, though it’s uncertain how much Bowman can help there. James and undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow have manned the sub package on the inside. Another undrafted rookie, Xavier Woodson-Luster, filled in for James during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He has played a lot of good ball over the years and we’re excited to have him," Del Rio said. "We’re a little green at the linebacker position, so to add somebody with the experience that he has, we think it’s a nice addition for us. We’ll get him up to speed and see how quickly we can get him there and on the field.”
Bowman’s experience and the Raiders’ other options may lead him to be a three-down linebacker on this team. Morrow could retain that post after a solid start to his career. Time will tell on that front.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bowman has allowed 11 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets this season. Bowman lost coverage snaps to other 49ers in Week 5 and was set to lose more time to rookie Reuben Foster, a disappointment that expedited his release from the 49ers.
Bowman is a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, and a winner of the 2013 Dick Butkus Award.
The Raiders should get on-field leadership on the interior and a motivated player determined to prove he remains an impact player despite being cut by a 49ers team he served since 2010.
The Raiders are mired in a four-game losing streak and are looking for a boost on both sides of the ball. Bowman should help a defense that hasn’t been half bad recently, but has lacked a presence at inside linebacker.
Del Rio hasn't seen Bowman much this season, but he watched some 49ers game tape this morning and discussed with Bowman at the team's Alameda training complex. Del Rio came away with a solid impression of his new veteran linebacker, who will front a young group right away.
"He’s been a tough player," Del Rio said. "He has been a part of a really good defense for his entire career. I had a chance to talk a little bit today and talk about the veteran leadership that would be nice to have."