Raiders

Broncos name new starting quarterback ahead of game vs Raiders

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AP

Broncos name new starting quarterback ahead of game vs Raiders

ALAMEDA — It’s time to see conclusively if quarterback Paxton Lynch is a bust or just a late bloomer.

The Denver Broncos’ former first-round draft pick will make his first start this weekend at Oakland, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Denver coach Vance Joseph won’t announce his starter until Wednesday.

General manager John Elway moved up in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft to select Lynch with the 26th overall pick, but the former Memphis QB proved to be a project.

Trevor Siemian, a 2015 seventh-rounder from Northwestern, handily beat out Lynch in 2016 and again this season. Shortly after coming up short in Denver’s quarterback competition for the second time, Lynch bruised his throwing shoulder against Green Bay in a preseason game.

That led to the re-signing of Peyton Manning’s longtime backup, Brock Osweiler, who had been released by Cleveland following a trade from Houston.

Osweiler supplanted a turnover prone Siemian (10 interceptions, two lost fumbles) three weeks ago but went winless in his three starts, including a 20-17 defeat to Cincinnati on Sunday in which Lynch was active for the first time.

On Monday, Joseph fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.

McCoy raised eyebrows with his overly complex game plans and stubbornness in sticking to three-receiver formations despite a flurry of sacks, flags and turnovers that resulted from a porous line and lack of depth at tight end and wide receiver.

Joseph said he wanted Musgrave, who guided the Raiders’ offense from 2015-16, to simplify the game plans.

Although no team has ever recovered from a 3-7 start to reach the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how Lynch’s promotion is met in the locker room.

Teammates have been effusive in their praise of the work ethic and leadership displayed by Osweiler and Siemian and they usually speak in terms of promise and potential when talking about Lynch, who’s never been known to get to work first and leave last like so many quarterbacks do.

Last week, when Lynch worked as the backup at practice for the first time and even handled some passing plays with the starters, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders praised Osweiler’s energy and experience that he brought to the equation and said what Lynch brings is a promising upside if he ever buckles down.

“Brock, he’s been there before, he’s been groomed by Peyton, so he understands the ins and outs of how to play quarterback,” Sanders said. “Paxton has a big-time arm, big-time talent. He has all the intangibles. It’s all about going out and getting more and more comfortable with the playbook, learning and growing as a player, becoming a pro.”

Lynch went 1-1 last year in place of an injured Siemian, losing to Atlanta and beating Jacksonville. He completed 49 of 83 passes for 497 yards and two TDs to go with an interception. He was sacked nine times.

He had to learn a new system when Gary Kubiak stepped down and was replaced by Joseph, who brought in McCoy to replace Rick Dennison.

With Musgrave’s promotion, Lynch will be working under his third system in less than two years in the NFL, albeit one that will be pared down for him.

He’ll face a Raiders defense going through its own shakeup . The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken North Jr. on Tuesday and coach Jack Del Rio handed those duties over to assistant head coach John Pagano.

Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist

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AP

Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist

The Pro Football Hall of Fame whittles its nominees from triple digits down to 25 this time every year.

Former Raiders coach Tom Flores is almost always on the big list. He had never been a semifinalist despite being the first Latino head coach to win one, then two Super Bowls, winning another as an assistant and playing on an AFL title team in 1967.

The lack of advancement baffles many who believe Flores should be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Flores previously admitted frustration with the process, but never lost hope that one day he would progress further down the selection process.

The time came Tuesday, when Flores was among the list of 25 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The news produced an honest reaction from the 81-year-old former coach and quarterback. 

“It put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes,” Flores told NBC Sports California Tuesday evening. 

It brought a renewed optimism that he could advance farther, and finally be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Flores isn’t getting ahead of himself, but he is excited about Tuesday’s development.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Flores said. “… I wasn’t really anticipating it. I always keep my fingers crossed, and this time it finally happened reaching this level. Now we’ll have to wait another month to see about the finals, and if that happens it’ll really be exciting.”

[RELATED: Raiders' trio of first-round picks take tumble in Week 11]

The list of 15 finalists will be announced in January. Flores hopes advancing this far can spark some momentum to enshrinement.

“I’m hoping that this is the catalyst to reaching the final 15,” Flores said. “There’s one more vote to hit that mark, and then once you get there you’re chances really improve. I’ve never been this far, so the chances are already up. I’m excited about it. I’m thrilled and honored about it, and all of the above. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. That’s all I can do.”

Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

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AP

Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Tom Flores, who coached the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships, was announced Tuesday as a modern-era semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Flores also won championship rings as a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV, and as an assistant coach under John Madden with the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

Flores compiled a record of 83-53 in nine seasons with the Raiders, and was the first Latino head coach in NFL history. The Raiders won Super Bowls XV and XVIII under his guidance.

His final season as an NFL head coach was in 1994 with the Seattle Seahawks. Flores advanced to the final 25 for the first time in the Hall of Fame process. A group of 102 nominees was announced in September.

Flores is a polarizing candidate, with a passionate supporters group and others who believe his entire body of work is lacking consistency required for a gold jacket. Reaching this stage is a step forward for Flores, who is as pivotal as anyone outside Al Davis in guiding the Raiders through a golden area. 

To be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must not have participated as an active player or coach for five consecutive seasons.

Flores, 81, and former Miami linebacker Zach Thomas are the only previously eligible individuals who were voted as semifinalists for the first time. Thomas' career ended in 2008.

The final 25 includes three first-year eligible players: Cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed.

Former Tampa Bay and Denver safety John Lynch, in his second year as 49ers general manager, was announced as a semi-finalist for the seventh consecutive year. Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, has made it to the final 15 five times.

Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is the only other semifinalist with 49ers ties. Bruce ended his career with the 49ers in 2009. He made four Pro Bowls during his 14 seasons with the Rams. Bruce ranks fifth all-time with 15,208 receiving yards.

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour, a seven-time Pro Bowl performer, is the only other semifinalist who played for the Raiders. After eight seasons with the New England Patriots, Seymour played his final four years with the Raiders. He is a semifinalist for the second time.

Running back Ricky Watters, QB Jeff Garcia, and defensive lineman Bryant Young were among the nominees with 49ers ties who did not become semifinalists. Former Raiders cornerback Albert Lewis, guard Steve Wisniewski, and cornerback Eric Allen also missed the cut. 

The list of semifinalists will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists on Jan. 3. Those 15 individuals, along with senior finalist Johnny Robinson and contributor finalists Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen, will advance to the final stage on the eve of Super Bowl.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that from four to eight new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era finalists can be elected in a given year.

Following is an alphabetical list of the 25 semifinalists, along with number of times each individual has been selected as a semifinalist:

Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Champ Bailey, CB – 1999-2003 Washington Redskins, 2004-2013 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Ronde Barber, CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
LeRoy Butler, S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 11 – 2005, 2010-19)
Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Tom Flores, Coach – 1979-1987 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-94 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Tony Gonzalez, TE – 1997-2008 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009-2013 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Steve Hutchinson, G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2014-19)
Ty Law, CB – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2013-19)
Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2012, 2017, 2019)
Kevin Mawae, C/G – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Sam Mills, LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016, 2019)
Ed Reed, FS – 2002-2012 Baltimore Ravens, 2013 New York Jets, 2013 Houston Texans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Richard Seymour, DE/DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-2019)
Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2017-19)
Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015, 2017, 2019)

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is on the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.