Raiders

Clelin Ferrell arrives with statement game in Raiders' win vs. Chargers

Clelin Ferrell arrives with statement game in Raiders' win vs. Chargers

OAKLAND -- Clelin Ferrell's rookie season has had some growing pains. The No. 4 overall pick lost weight, has been forced to play all along the defensive line and hasn't been putting up the pressure numbers some want to see out of an edge rusher drafted highly. 

Jon Gruden and the Raiders have been confident in Ferrell, and rightfully so, touting his impact against the run and noting that not everything is about the sacks, pressures and hits. The game has layers, and Ferrell, who was a star at Clemson, is doing everything they asked. Those numbers would come. 

Come they did, and in a wave Thursday night. Down to seven healthy bodies on the defensive line, the Raiders needed big production out of Ferrell and fellow rookie Maxx Crosby in order to fluster Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

In his best NFL game to date, Ferrell racked up eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, five pressures, two other tackles for loss and a pass defensed in 56 snaps during the Raiders' 26-24 win over the Chargers.

"Sack totals are driving me nuts," Gruden said of Ferrell after the win. "He does a lot more than just rush the passer. He made some great plays against the run. It was a signature game for him obviously, but it's great for him to get some sacks. Maybe some of the people who are counting sacks out there will acknowledge this."

Raiders safety Erik Harris doesn't understand the pressure that comes with being the No. 4 overall pick. He went undrafted out of Division II California University of Pennsylvania, but he scratched and clawed to get his NFL opportunity. So before the Raiders' Week 8 loss to the Texans, Harris had a talk with Ferrell.

"Clelin and I, we had a talk in Houston about, just about life and in general," Harris said Thursday. "I'm so proud of him. I've never been drafted, especially that high and I couldn't imagine the pressure one would have to perform. I'm just really happy for him. I'm happy he's playing free and doing his job and getting after it. 

"I don't know if he was getting frustrated or not. I was just trying to instill confidence in him and just remind him why he was picked where he was picked. He's a great player and sometimes the pressure outside the locker room or even within the locker room that you have to perform and guys are looking at you to perform, it can be a lot of pressure. He's young and he's stepping up and that's why he was No. 4 overall.

"I'm really proud of him for stepping up and having confidence in himself and starting to find his groove within this league."

Despite the NFL learning curve, Ferrell has remained confident in himself, knowing he has the ability to be a difference-maker in this league.

"I feel like any player knows that to become a great player, you have to become it first, you know what I mean?" Ferrell told NBC Sports Bay Area. "You can't just be it. Some guys, they hit bigger jumps than others at times, but it's just going to take time. Trust me, ain't nobody have more confidence in myself than I do."

[RELATED: Raiders-Chargers Coliseum finale was fitting final chapter]

The confidence came through Thursday night early and often with Ferrell making life miserable for Rivers along with Crosby. On the Chargers' first drive, Ferrell used his strength to drive left tackle Russell Okung back and grab Rivers, allowing Crosby to finish him off.

Then, he whipped Trey Pipkins in the third quarter and hammered Rivers, mimicking reeling in a fish after the sack.

Ferrell had no desire to talk after the game. He let his play do that through four dominant quarters against a division rival.

The statement was clear: Clelin Ferrell has arrived.

Why Bill Belichick will miss Oakland Coliseum after Raiders' finale

Why Bill Belichick will miss Oakland Coliseum after Raiders' finale

It’s no secret that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t a man of many words.

When it comes to his press conferences, answers don’t tend to extend longer than a sentence or two.

But when the six-time Super Bowl champion coach was asked about the Raiders playing their final game at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, the famously tight-lipped coach opined on the soon-to-be-former home of the Silver and Black.

“Pretty intense fans. It’s like Halloween every Sunday there,” Belichick said to reporters Friday. “So, yeah. I mean, it’s a great environment.

“When I was with the Broncos, of course we played out there, so that was – especially at that time in ’78, if I get that right – I’m pretty sure the Broncos won the division that year. We were right there with the Raiders. It was the Raiders-Broncos. It was a very intense rivalry, so there was a lot of – there was the game, and then there was all the other aspects of the game.

“But, yeah, the Oakland crowd was a lot more intense than the L.A. crowd, and we’ll miss it. We’ll miss it.”

One thing the legendary coach won’t miss is the iconic Black Hole.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Davis discusses end of Raiders' Oakland era]

“I think we kind of warmed up down there, so it’s not really where you want to be as a visiting coach,” Belichick said. “Tell the players not to stand too close to them in case they throw something and miss.”

The Raiders will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their finale in front of the Oakland crowd on Sunday, as the team will officially move its operations to Las Vegas before the 2020 season.

Derek Carr among five Raiders who must play well to win Oakland Coliseum finale

Derek Carr among five Raiders who must play well to win Oakland Coliseum finale

OAKLAND -- The Raiders will play their last game at Oakland Coliseum on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will be an emotional day for everyone involved.

That includes Jon Gruden, as attached to this East Bay fan base as anyone. The Raiders coach has shut off his emotions all week, driving focus into preparation for this game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s the last Oakland moment he can control, and Gruden plans to take advantage.

Gruden desperately wants this win, and a victory might finally provide the opportunity to be emotional about the team’s scheduled move to Las Vegas.

“I wish I had time to stand up here and thank all the fans," Gruden said earlier this week. "I wish I had more time to really sit down and make that the big story here, and thank the fans for their support over the years, and what this franchise has accomplished, and what it means and what Oakland means to the Raiders. So, I’d like to thank everyone that welcomed us back when we came back and I know that they are going to stay with us when we go, but I appreciate all the fans and their loyalty and their support. We’ll try to give you one hell of a show.”

In order to put on a showstopper, the Raiders will need good performances from these five guys.

QB Derek Carr

I generally try to leave the franchise quarterback off these lists, but we’ll make an exception for the last Raiders game in Oakland. He got booed off the field after last week’s first half and again at the end, but this fan base still has a great affinity for the signal-caller who started virtually every game since 2014.

Carr owes them his best on Sunday, and odds are great he’ll put on a show for the faithful. He must improve upon recent performances to execute his plan. Carr will need help from a so-so receiver corps and an offensive line -- Trent Brown’s questionable with a pectoral strain -- that haven’t been at full strength all season.

Emotional Derek Carr is generally the best Derek Carr -- the season opener is a great example -- so we should anticipate him being on top of his game. The Jaguars have struggled mightily this season. but they’re sure to put up a fight during the final game in Oakland.

Carr is capable of putting a team on his shoulders, and he might have to with the Raiders defense playing as it is.

RB Josh Jacobs

The Raiders don’t have much to play for. Their playoff hopes are essentially dead, with the path to the postseason now complicated calculus when it was simple math not long ago. Jacobs is this team’s offensive engine, the player who matters most in what the Raiders do moving the football.

They know that. They believe his fractured shoulder can’t get worse and are hoping to trot him out there Sunday to help win the last game in Oakland. Jacobs' play exponentially increases their chances to win, and Jacobs knows that. He desperately wants to win this game.

The rookie is expected to be active, though it’s unclear exactly how much he will play. A 20-plus carry dose should do the Jaguars in. If he can provide that, the Raiders are in great shape if the defense holds up even a little bit. If not, Sunday could well be a struggle.

CB Isaiah Johnson

There’s no telling how much the fourth-round draft pick will play Sunday. Heck, he might not play at all.

Johnson hasn’t done much since returning off injured reserve, at times a healthy scratch since being activated around midseason. He has sat behind other guys during a playoff push and that made sense, but now it doesn’t. The Raiders are essentially out of the postseason running, with cornerback Daryl Worley either out with a neck injury or moving to strong safety in the base package.

That provides an opportunity to see what Johnson’s got. He won’t be his absolute best, not after missing most of training camp and half the regular season with a facial fracture suffered in the first regular-season game. Rookies can’t make up for that lost time until the following offseason, and Johnson clearly would’ve played earlier had he not been behind.

But it’s time to throw him out there as a test, to see what you’ve got in a talented young player. If he gives up a massive play, so what? The guy has to learn on the job. That’s how Trayvon Mullen has done it, and the Clemson product has thrived despite making some rookie mistakes. It’s time to let Johnson do the same.

DE Maxx Crosby

A devout Raiders follower made a flag to hang over the Oakland Coliseum railing -- enjoy that while you can Raider Nation, the tradition isn’t following you to Las Vegas -- to honor the departing club. He featured a skull and swords as crossbones, with a name filling out the remaining fabric. It said Mad Maxx.

That honors the rookie pass rusher who has already adhered himself to the fan base with one sack and pressure after another. He has proven a better run defender than people have expected. The Silver and Black need him to step up Sunday and generate heat largely missing from recent games.

Crosby currently has 7.5 sacks and would certainly like to reach 10 in his rookie year, needing at least a sack on Sunday to make that happen and give him a chance to compete for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

WR Tyrell Williams

The veteran receiver just isn’t right. Coaches volunteered that Williams' plantar fasciitis has plagued him all season despite it keeping him out just two games in the early going.

Williams simply hasn’t produced at a No. 1 receiver level, which has hurt the offense as a whole. Drops have been a real issue, and his lack of consistent separation can be attributed to his ailing foot.

He is not even on the injury report and is expected to play, and Williams has to produce if that’s the case. He remains the team’s best receiver and has to act like in the final game played in the spot where his grandparents live, in the town where he spent so much time as a kid.