Raiders

Updated Raiders playoff scenarios

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Updated Raiders playoff scenarios

While the Raiders' path to the playoffs has cleared a bit after this weekend's games, clinching their first postseason appearance since the 2002 season will require some help.First of all, the Raiders have to beat an already-eliminated and possibly-disinterested San Diego Chargers team Sunday in the season finale at the O.co Coliseum. Lose or tie, and the Raiders are eliminated.To win the AFC West, the Raiders must win and Denver must either lose to or tie Kansas City at home.In that scenario, the Raiders would win the division, the No. 4 seed in the AFC bracket and play host to a wild-card round playoff game, against either Pittsburgh or Baltimore.For the Raiders to claim the last wild card spot, two scenarios are in play: a Raiders win, plus a Cincinnati loss at home to Baltimore and a Tennessee loss on the road to or tie against Houston; or a Raiders win, plus a Cincinnati home loss to Baltimore and a New York Jets victory at Miami.Win the wild card, and the Raiders are the No. 6 seed and travel to Houston for a wild-card round game.In any other scenario, the Raiders are on the outside looking in on the Super Bowl tournament.The Jets and Titans each play at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday, while the Raiders, Broncos and Bengals all kick off at 1:15 p.m. PT.First things first, of course, but would you rather see the Raiders as a wild card facing the T.J. Yates-led Texans on the road, or as a division champ at home against the Steelers or Ravens?Following, then, is the updated look at the NFL's playoff picture, with one week to go:2011 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 17AFCCLINCHED:New England Patriots -- East Division and a first-round bye.Houston Texans -- South Division. Baltimore Ravens -- wild card spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers -- wild card spot.OAKLAND RAIDERSOakland clinches AFC West Division: 1) OAK win DEN loss or tie 2) OAK tie DEN loss Oakland clinches a wild card spot:
1) OAK win CIN loss TEN loss or tie
2) OAK win CIN loss NYJ winNEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs:
1) NE win or tie 2) BAL loss or tie PIT loss or tieBALTIMORE RAVENSBaltimore clinches AFC North Division and a first-round bye:
1) BAL win 2) BAL tie PIT loss or tie 3) PIT loss
Baltimore clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs: 1) BAL win NE lossPITTSBURGH STEELERSPittsburgh clinches AFC North Division and a first-round bye:
1) PIT win BAL loss or tie
2) PIT tie BAL loss
Pittsburgh clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs: 1) PIT win BAL loss or tie NE lossDENVER BRONCOS Denver clinches AFC West Division: 1) DEN win 2) DEN tie OAK loss or tie 3) OAK lossCINCINNATI BENGALS
Cincinnati clinches a wild card spot:
1) CIN win or tie 2) NYJ loss or tie OAK loss or tie
3) NYJ loss or tie DEN loss or tieNEW YORK JETS
NY Jets clinch a wild card spot:
1) NYJ win CIN loss TEN loss or tie OAK loss or tie
2) NYJ win CIN loss TEN loss or tie DEN loss or tieTENNESSEE TITANS
Tennessee clinches a wild card spot: 1) TEN win CIN loss NYJ win OAK loss or tie 2) TEN win CIN loss NYJ win DEN loss or tie 3) TEN win CIN loss NYJ loss or tie OAK win DEN win NFC CLINCHED: Green Bay Packers -- North Division and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs.San Francisco 49ers -- West Division.New Orleans Saints -- wild card spot.Detroit Lions -- wild card spot. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERSSan Francisco clinches a first-round bye:1) SF win2) SF tie one NO loss or tie3) one NO lossNEW ORLEANS SAINTS New Orleans clinches NFC South Division:
1) one NO win or tie
2) one ATL loss or tie
New Orleans clinches a first-round bye:
1) two NO wins SF loss or tie
2) one NO win one NO tie SF loss NEW YORK GIANTS
NY Giants clinch NFC East Division: 1) NYG win or tieDALLAS COWBOYS
Dallas clinches NFC East Division: 1) DAL win ATLANTA FALCONS Atlanta clinches NFC South Division: 1) two ATL wins two NO losses
Atlanta clinches a wild card spot:
1) one ATL win or tie
2) one CHI loss or tie

Why firing Ken Norton Jr. won't solve the Raiders' bigger, deeper problems

Why firing Ken Norton Jr. won't solve the Raiders' bigger, deeper problems

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was twice asked about making in-season changes at his Monday press conference.

He wouldn’t rule it out. Del Rio said he would do anything necessary to help the team “win now,” and later said "we're not getting into staff questions this week."

Then he fired Ken Norton Jr. the next day, hoping the dismissal will provide a spark.

It might. More likely, it might not do enough.

It is a shot across the bow at its base, a signal that subpar play won't be tolerated. 

“We played under our talent level,” defensive tackle Justin Ellis said, “Those things come with consequences.”

New play caller John Pagano has a unique style and knows how to bring creative pressure, disguise a simple play as complex and exploit weak links, but he won’t be using his system this season. He’ll still be working within Norton/Del Rio’s scheme and, more importantly, he’s still playing chess with existing, often inferior pieces. The Raiders understand that, and likely won't judge him on this final stretch alone. 

Why? The defense doesn’t have enough talent in the secondary, the interior defensive line or the inside linebacker corps. That’s not on Norton or Pagano.

Pagano can’t do a thing about an offense struggling mightily to catch passes, block consistently and let plays develop downfield.

The Raiders have some major talent problems, with rush and coverage rarely working together as desired. That, and some uninspired schematics, have produced awful statistics.

The Raiders don’t have an interception, and are the first team to go 10 games without a pick. They’re on track to have the second-worst opposing completion percentage (72.3) and passer rating (113.3) in NFL history, per the Associated Press.

They’re also last in sacks for the second straight year, with just 14 this season despite having reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack.

They're thin because last year's second and third round picks, Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun aren't contributing. This year's draft class had to make an immediate impact, but Gareon Conley played two games, Obi Melifonwu spent eight games on IR and Eddie Vanderdoes as underwhelmed after a promising start.

Highly paid free agents haven't performed well enough, and many could be shown the door.

It’s possible roughly half of the starting lineup doesn’t return next season, with Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson, Bruce Irvin and NaVorro Bowman likely out the door as free agents or roster cuts.

In sum, this isn’t all Norton’s fault.

He was, however, the easiest cut. You can’t fire players en masse during the year, and Pagano was an easy replacement without disrupting the position coaches. Pagano has extensive experience calling plays. He was the then-San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2012-16.

Norton wasn’t an innovative play caller. He was passed over for coordinator jobs while serving as Seattle’s linebackers coach, after Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn were hired as head coaches. Del Rio, who played with Norton in Dallas back from 1989-91, hired Norton shortly after being hired by the Raiders.

The Raiders' defense has never been good under Norton/Del Rio, and Norton was on a hot seat most of last season. It was surprising when Pagano was hired that Norton was retained and allowed to continue despite underwhelming performance.

Norton was immensely popular in the locker room, especially with members of the front seven. Mack and Irvin in particular were Norton guys. Norton and Irvin go way back to Irvin’s Seattle days, where the coach helped the player get and stay on the right path.

That’s why this firing was deeply felt on Tuesday. The players were told in an afternoon meeting, following a walk-through focused on corrections from Sunday’s New England loss.

"The axe came down on everybody," free safety Reggie Nelson said. "Everybody felt it in this building. Players, we love Norton, regardless. Unfortunately, the production wasn't a high standard this year and it's a production league. He's not playing. We are.”

The Raiders are 4-6, and can’t afford to lose many more games. They might need to be perfect down the stretch to avoid a messy tiebreaker situation. That’s a tough ask for a team that’s been woefully inconsistent on both sides. This team was always expected to shoot for the middle defensively and have a potentially great offense score points by the bushel.

The offense has been most disappointing, performing far below its pay grade and talent level. There was no movement on that side of the ball. The Raiders hope, with fingers firmly crossed, this defensive change provide the spark necessary to create turnovers and quarterback pressure than has been lacking in a disastrous season to this point.

Raiders fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Raiders fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Ken Norton Jr.'s time with the Raiders is up.

With the team underperforming, Oakland has fired Norton as the defensive coordinator, the team announced Tuesday afternoon. John Pagano will handle the play calling duties when the Raiders take on the Broncos this Sunday.

Head coach Jack Del Rio issued the following statement regarding the news:

“After careful thought, I have made a difficult decision to part ways with Ken Norton, Jr. as defensive coordinator. I have the utmost respect for Ken as a person and as a coach, but I feel that moving John Pagano into the play-calling role will best utilize his wealth of experience. I appreciate Ken’s passion and commitment to the Raiders since coming aboard and wish him the best going forward.”

The Raiders defense under Norton this season ranks 26th in the NFL in yards allow per game (367.0), is allowing 24.7 points per game and has yet to record an interception through 10 games.

"We played under our talent level. Those things come with consequences," defensive lineman Justin Ellis told reporters shortly after the news broke.

"The axe fell on all of us. We love Coach Norton. We didn’t want to see this happen," safety Reggie Nelson said.

Norton joined Del Rio's staff prior to the 2015 season.