Raiders

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

OAKLAND -- The Raiders are running on empty. They’ve lost too many over the trials of traveling so many miles, and they now seem set to crawl across this season’s finish line.

The Silver and Black survived on adrenaline for so long, but there’s simply nothing left. The Raiders might win another game or two, but it’s hard to imagine them playing well enough over four quarters to beat quality opposition.

The Raiders have valid reasons for wobbly legs. They have been dealing with drama since Antonio Brown went nuclear near summer’s end, with a steady stream of setbacks after that. Let’s not forget about the five-game road trip, the Vontaze Burfict suspension and all those injuries.

The instinct to excuse is strong and could explain this recent Raiders slide. Jon Gruden has gone down that road a few times this season, while ultimately assuming responsibility for this team’s shortcomings.

Derek Carr didn’t want to do that.

“Oh, it’s been crazy. Let’s not sugarcoat it,” Carr said Sunday after Oakland's 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “Let’s just be real about it. I’m into facts, and it’s been a really weird year. We can get into all the other stuff. Someone should write a book at some point about that, you know? Some of the stuff that went on, but nobody cares. I’m used to that.”

A book may detail this oddball season. The line on the Raiders’ 2019 Pro Football Reference page won’t include any of that. It’ll just reveal a record, some stats and a schedule’s results.

Maybe that’s fitting for a franchise with a simple, direct mantra: Just win, baby.

It’s not much different than Carr’s response to those asking how injuries and other setbacks impact how the team is playing now: Nobody cares.

We could also pair them together.

Nobody cares. Just win, baby.

“Nobody cares about the situation,” Carr said. “Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game, and it is what it is.”

The Raiders didn’t win enough football games down the stretch. The Silver and Black were loving life after a three-game winning streak pushed them up to 6-4 and in a great position to earn a playoff berth.

Fans were stoked, especially those in Oakland to dared to dream about the final East Bay campaign extended to the postseason. It was then that the expectations changed. The bar was raised before the Raiders cleared the original height.

Let’s not forget this is a rebuilding team that always eyed 2020 to fight for division crowns and wild-card spots. The team needs another excellent draft class and a productive free-agent signing period to further what Gruden started after being hired in Jan. 2018. First, there was a teardown. Then there was an ascent that began in earnest this season but didn’t solve all of this team’s problems.

The offense received perceived quick fixes. Some worked (Trent Brown). Some didn’t (Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams). The defense was always another year away while the unit was rebuilt with the draft, largely from the ground up.

The Raiders played better than the sum of their parts around midseason and were able to notch some good wins. But all the fatigue and attrition put the Raiders in a position where they can’t make up for mistakes of any kind. If Brown and rookie running back Josh Jacobs are done for the year -- that’s certainly possible now that playoff prospects have essentially been dashed -- struggles should continue.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders' offense hear boo birds as slide continues]

The next goal is to find a way to put on a good show in the final game played in Oakland. The Raiders have one left, coming up next week against Jacksonville. It might be tough considering the circumstances but, as we now know, nobody cares.

Just win the last one, baby.

“They deserve a fun showing, a fun game, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Carr said. “It’s honestly, it’s weird, it’s sad. I know some of the Raider faithful will probably be a little sad that it’s the last time, but it’s out of our control. I mean, it is what it is.”

Jon Gruden believes playing better in cold will help Raiders evolution

Jon Gruden believes playing better in cold will help Raiders evolution

The Raiders surged to 6-4 with a three-game winning streak just after midseason but had a tough time sustaining that success. They lost control of their playoff destiny in an ensuing four-game slide, finishing the season with five losses in their last six games.

There were plenty of reasons why the Raiders ran out of gas. They always were better than the sum of their parts, clearly talent deficient in certain areas when compared to better competition. They also suffered a series of setbacks, from Antonio Brown's meltdown to Vontaze Burfict’s suspension to a series of injury setbacks the Raiders weren’t deep enough to survive in the midst of roster reconstruction.

Head coach Jon Gruden threw another issue into the mix that cropped up during the Raiders’ poor finish.

“I think the cold weather is one thing,” Gruden said at his season-ending press conference. “We got to prove we can exorcise that demon. We got to play better in the bad weather.

“I remember when I went to Tampa Bay, they hadn’t won a game in the history of the franchise in temperatures that were below 40 degrees and every single game we played that’s all we heard. And we are going to continue to hear it, hear it and hear it until we prove as a West Coast team we can go out on a cold day and win.”

The Raiders have lost seven straight games kicked off at below 40 degrees, including three late in the 2019 season. They have lost 11 straight under 50, a brutal stretch that does have to be remedied if the Silver and Black wants to orchestrate a successful run into and through the postseason. Had the Raiders been in the AFC playoffs this year, two of the four conference playoff games had been waged below 50 degrees.

“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things -- talent, better coaching, experience, toughness,” Gruden said. “I don’t know. Travel plans, pregame meals, something. We’ve got to play better. We got to get wins on the road and we got to look forward to playing when it’s hot, when it’s cold, when it’s nasty, when it’s awful. You got to learn to love the misery and maybe we got to leave on a Wednesday next year and get acclimated to it. I’m not making excuses, but that’s one theme is pretty obvious and noticeable. We got to play better in lousy weather and we got to play better period in all three phases.”

[RELATED: Raiders should keep draft blueprint, raid Clemson-LSU]

Gruden also mentioned this point a day after the season finale, where they lost to Denver in the cold.

While fans typically blame Derek Carr for this issue due to his 2-11 record playing at less than 50 degrees, this is a team-wide problem.

“I know that the cold weather doesn’t affect Derek Carr," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "We practice in cold weather, he practices without sleeves, he throws the ball very well. He makes appropriate checks when in practice.

“I know the quarterbacks, generally, they’re always evaluated on wins and losses. No matter what kind of weather it is, they’re always going to be judged on records. We don’t read too much into it.”

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted an expanded class in honor of the NFL’s 100th season, providing an opportunity to right some wrongs from way, way back.

They formed a blue-ribbon panel to select a larger group for induction, including 10 seniors who played at least 25 years ago, two coaches and three contributors.

But that still was not enough to get Cliff Branch in the Hall.

The legendary Raiders receiver was not included among the inductees, a disappointing turn for a Raiders franchise still mourning Branch’s loss.

Branch passed away last summer at the age of 71. Making the Hall of Fame proved elusive for the three-time Super Bowl champion and dangerous deep threat known for elite athleticism and speed.

[RELATEDBranch leaves lasting NFL legacy, earned Hall of Fame induction]

He had 501 catches for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns, averaging 17.3 yards per reception. Those totals match some of his contemporaries who have been enshrined, but his case has yet to be validated with a positive vote.

This was Branch’s best chance to get in. Now he’ll be reliant on the senior committee, which nominates one or two older players for enshrinement every year. Quarterback Ken Stabler was the last Raider inducted by the senior committee in 2016.

Roger Craig, who played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991, also was not selected.

The centennial class of enshrinees will be joined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 by five modern-era players who will be elected the day before Super 54 in Miami.

Here is the complete list of inductees selected by the blue-ribbon panel as part of the 2020 Hall of Fame Class that consists of 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches:

Coaches

Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Jimmy Johnson – 1989-1993 (Dallas Cowboys(, 1996-99 (Miami Dolphins)

Contributors

Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 (NFL Films)
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 (NFL)
George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-1974 (Baltimore Colts), 1975-78 (Miami Dolphins), 1979-1997 (New York Giants), 1998-2001 (NFL)

Seniors

Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 (Philadelphia Eagles), 1984 (Dallas Cowboys)
Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 (Chicago Bears)
Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 (Green Bay Packers)
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 (Dallas Cowboys)
Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 (New York Jets), 1977 (Los Angeles Rams)
Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 (Detroit Lions)
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Duke Slater, T – 1922 (Milwaukee Badgers), 1922-25 (Rock Island Independents), 1926-1931 (Chicago Cardinals)
Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 (Cleveland Browns AAFC/NFL)
Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 (Chicago Bears)