Raiders

Amid relocation buzz, Raiders become bonafide Super Bowl contender

Amid relocation buzz, Raiders become bonafide Super Bowl contender

So here’s a series of thoughts worth considering until the effects of Proposition 64 kick in:

1. The Raiders keep winning, which is not an unwarranted thought given that they’re 8-2 now.

2. The Raiders make the playoffs, which is a given after Monday’s 27-20 come-from-behind win over the improbably decent Houston Texans.

3. The Raiders beat New England in an ankle-deep snowstorm in Foxborough officiated by Walt Coleman, which would be a particularly delicious heap of karma right up the alleys of the mythology-soaked Raider fan base (which, by the way, is not a nation, no matter how much it would desire secession right now).

4. The Raiders beat Dallas in the Super Bowl in Houston the year after the 49ers only hosted one, which would be downright hilarious at the local level.

5. The Raiders hold their victory parade the following Tuesday, starting at the Mormon Temple and heading directly down Broadway, which would be considered by some devout Mormons to be borderline sacrilegious and therefore right up the Raiders’ narrative alley.

6. The parade goes right down Broadway past the car dealerships, past Oaksterdam, past DeLauer’s, past the Warriors’ practice facility, and all the way to Fifth Street, where it takes a left, gets on the Nimitz Freeway and heads to Las Vegas with all the parade-goers following them as a long black ribbon of bittersweet, one eye crying years of unrestrained joy and the other tears of irreparable sadness.

It would, I think we can all agree, be the weirdest farewell in the history of show business.

But all things are in play now that the Raiders have not only fixed what ailed them for most of the past quarter-century but become a bonafide shortlist championship contender with the Cowboys and Patriots.

They have in Derek Carr a young and bold quarterback in a league largely bereft of such creatures, who has learned to trust his teammates and curb his tendency to overbelieve in his arm. They have an offense that is greater than the sum of its metric parts, and a defense that, well, hangs on a lot. They have in head coach Jack Del Rio a born poker player who is learning to love the value of the percentages, and in general manager Reggie McKenzie a once-maligned but now richly praised master of roster construction – find a quarterback, throw money at an offensive line that keeps him safe, and get two receivers who can do things when things are required.

In short, this is beginning to look like a team that, while it doesn’t look as good as the 2002 Super Bowl team, does have the look of a team that might linger among the big eaters for as long as people imagine the Warriors doing so.

And let us not forget that they have in owner Mark Davis an elf impersonator who has spent his entire life being underestimated and/or downright ignored who hired and stayed with McKenzie and hired Del Rio while frantically working his fellow owners to leave the town in which he currently does business under the most favorable terms he can manage.

All these are very happy circumstances for a fan base that has been treated with profound rudeness and condescension since 1981 – all until the part where Davis is trying to beat feet out of town.

So all the above scenarios are very believable, even the one where the family of five standing and cheering in front of the Marriott is cheering its heroes as they pass on February 7 debating whether to follow the parade to Nevada and abandon their lives, or curse the cruelty of a collective existence that rewards with one hand and smites with the other.

No wonder Prop 64 was so important. If this is the future, wouldn’t you want to have a little something to take the edge off? Of course you would. And wouldn’t you want to boost the local economy rather than polish off some imported Russian vodka you lifted from the Jack London Square BevMo for the parade?

Pharmaceuticals aside, this has a chance to become the most improbable tale in a year full of them, making a mockery even of the Chicago Cubs and Leicester City. It could be the Hello Goodbye Tour to beat all hellos and goodbyes, because after all, wasn’t it the prophet who said:

“You say yes (I say yes) I say no (But I may mean no),

“You say stop (I can stay) and I say go go go

“(Till it's time to go), oh

“Oh no”

No, that was The Beatles, you narcotic-damaged hippie. Nobody has ever prophesied this – not even the Prop 64 people in their most smoke-filled planning sessions. That's what makes it so perfect in this, the new Bizarro World.
 

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

MIAMI -- Kolton Miller has played every Raiders offensive snap through two games, compiling stats suggesting the rookie left tackle’s season is off to a solid start.

This year’s No. 15 overall pick has allowed just three quarterback hurries -- he’s one of seven left tackles to allow no sacks, no QB hits this season -- in 83 pass-blocking snaps against the Rams and Broncos. The Raiders have not run great off the left tackle, with 13 yards in the too-small-a-sample-size four attempts. Running backs are averaging 4.0 yards on carries between Miller and mauler left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Numbers will tell part of this story. Tom Cable sees the whole matrix.

The Raiders offensive line coach believes Miller can be an excellent left tackle, but he fully understands his star pupil has a long, long way to go.

“If you’re looking at the whole spectrum of it, I would say he’s doing C-plus work right now and continuing to climb,” Cable told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “That’s where you want him. You don’t want him failing, and at the same time I don’t think there will be rookies out there doing better than him. That’s a good thing, but he has a long way to go to become a complete player.

“That’s just part of being young, more than anything. He is on course. He’s invested in this process. I like his preparation and how he gets ready for each test. He presses into it, which is really important.”

Cable has pressed new mechanics upon the 6-foot-8, 309-pound UCLA product, helping a supreme athlete become a technician in time. He has Miller going more vertical in his pass-blocking sets, to help him control matchups with defensive linemen and use his size appropriately. There’s a major emphasis in cleaning up his run blocking.

And, in an effort that will take some time, Cable believes Miller can gain functional strength and lean bulk to his frame working with the Raiders' strength staff.

“[Cable] has worked to adjust things here and there to help refine my technique and make me a better player,” Miller said. “It has been great working with him.”

Miller has the size and athleticism and savvy to be a productive player. Cable believes two other attributes are vital to his professional success: coach-ability and commitment.

“He’s the strong, silent type in terms of personality and is hungry to be the best version of himself,” Cable said. “He’s in search of that. He checks all the boxes for us. He wants to learn and fix mistakes, and the cool thing is that he’ll then come out on the field and work hard at it.”

Cable and the Raiders took a deep dive into Miller’s background, and felt confident in making him a first-round pick.

“If you’re going to take a guy early in the draft like that, you need to understand his level of humility,” Cable said. ‘There are times when guys get picked early and get paid a little bit, they think they’re made it. You want to find out of he can stay even-keeled, not put too much into the whistles and bell and put everything into being worthy of that pick. That’s important to me. That’s always important because, once the ‘disease of me’ hits people, they’re screwed up. Then they become less of a teammate.

“We learned that about him, that he’s humble and coachable, and cares about his craft. That’s a major plus that allows him to grow and develop.

The biggest fear in starting a rookie at left tackle, especially after two-time Pro Bowl pick Donald Penn moved to the right to make room for Miller, is the big mistake that gets quarterback Derek Carr in trouble. We haven’t seen anything like that off Miller’s edge.

Miller has fared well against the vaunted Rams and Broncos defensive fronts, and gained confidence from those efforts. He believes he already can compete with anyone, knowing full well there’s room for improvement. He’s honed on technique, not emotion or trash talk or who he’s lined up against. Miller is as even-keeled as they come.

“The goal is to be consistently good from week to week,” Miller said. “That’s how players become good and establish themselves in this league.”

Cable believes maintaining this current course could lead to good things.

“Potential is a dangerous word. That said, he’s potentially one of the really special young players in the game,” Cable said. “It will be up to all of us to keep him on the track of growth and development. If he ever makes it about money and outside stuff, it’ll detract him. Knowing him, I think he wants to find out how good he can be. As long as he keeps that mindset, he can be something great.”

Raiders-Dolphins injury report: Rookie P.J. Hall ruled out again

Raiders-Dolphins injury report: Rookie P.J. Hall ruled out again

MIAMI – Injury reports can be lengthy even in the early going. This one advancing Sunday’s clash between the Raiders and Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium is the opposite.

Only three are considered questionable or worse, leaving most impact players available for this Week 3 contest.

Raiders defensive tackle P.J. Hall was ruled out for the second straight game with a sprained ankle. He wasn’t expected to play this game, though head coach Jon Gruden is crossing fingers he can return soon.

“He’s working hard to get it right,” he said Friday. “Hopefully he can return next week. We miss him.”

Nick Nelson showed up on the participation report on Thursday with a hamstring injury limited his workload, though he has been inactive thus far regardless of health.

The Dolphins listed starting safety as questionable with a shoulder injury. He has 10 tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed already, so losing him would be a blow to Miami’s secondary.

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out

DT P.J. Hall (ankle)

Questionable
CB Nick Nelson (hamstring)

DOLPHINS
Questionable

S Reshad Jones (shoulder)