ALAMEDA -- The line between resting up and getting away from football while staying focused on the task at hand during a CBA-mandated four days off on a bye is a fine one, indeed.So how did the Raiders do it, so to speak?"Just know your priorities," said fullback Marcel Reece, who, along with Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones and Jacoby Ford made an appearance at the Raider Image Store at the Universal City Walk outside of Los Angeles this past weekend."Your priorities are faith, family, football, know what I'm saying? And you spend a little time with your family, because they need it and you need it, and in the back of your mind you still got football on your mind because you know what you've got to do. Now it's 16 weeks straight, Lord willing."Reece was talking about the Super Bowl, of course."Yeah. I thought our guys came back, I thought they worked well, I thought they competed," said coach Dennis Allen. "We still worked a lot on ourselves, and we'll spend a lot of time really working on Atlanta, really, starting Wednesday."Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said it felt like the first day of the season for the Raiders, who are 1-3 but picked up half-of-one-game on the rest of the AFC West as San Diego, Denver and Kansas City all lost on Sunday.But from the coaches' perspective, they bye weekend was not merely a chance to exhale."We did our work," Allen said. "We did the things that we had to do. And then all of us had an opportunity to go home and be family men because we've got lives, too, outside of football. So we got a chance to do that, too, which was good."Allen said receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, injured in the Raiders' victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 23, has passed the concussion protocol and been cleared for contact.Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (right foot) is still in a walking boot."Its really about what we expected," Allen said of the injury, which occurred on Sept. 16 at Miami. "Were hoping hes out of the boot soon. Im hopeful that the process speeds up once he gets out of the boot."Allen said Spencer, along with right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and tight end Richard Gordon (groin) were "week-to-week."Allen said the Raiders did not work out any free agents over the bye, but acknowledged there was a "potential" they could do so this week.
MEXICO CITY – The President of the United States has taken several shots at players who choose to sit during the national anthem.
Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was in his crosshairs early Monday morning.
Trump was bothered by Lynch’s actions before Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca.
Lynch sat for the United States’ national anthem, as he has in every game this season. Then he stood for Mexico’s anthem, though he spent most of that song getting his equipment adjusted.
The President took exception in a Twitter rant that has become a staple of his presidency.
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
It is believed that Lynch is sitting in protest of racial inequality, a movement popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, though he has never declared that publicly. He refused to answer questions on that topic this summer.
That hasn’t stopped Trump from demanding he be suspended the rest of the season for his actions. The league won’t do that.
Trump won’t get his way, but with a quick tweet he brought the issue to the Raiders’ doorstep in what will become a topic in Alameda all week.
Lynch was probably asleep when Trump’s tweet went public at 5:25 a.m. ET, and therefore hasn’t responded in any way.
MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:
1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.
That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.
“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”
The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.
Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.
Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.
“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”
2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot
The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.
Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.
That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.
“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.
The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.
It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.
3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode
Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.
He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.
The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.
“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”
The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.
Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.