Raiders

Hot Raiders keeping healthy perspective, 'haven't done anything yet'

Hot Raiders keeping healthy perspective, 'haven't done anything yet'

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr connected with Amari Cooper six times for 183 yards and the receiver’s first touchdown of the year.

AC/DC, it seemed, flowed a maximum voltage. Apparently there was a short circuit.

Carr and Cooper conceded that point following Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the San Diego Chargers. There were 12 exchanges between them, with too many opportunities missed. A pair of touchdowns ruled incomplete come to mind, though there’s certainly more devils in the details.

“We left so much out there. It’s too much,” Carr said. “We can’t do that. We’re not going to get away with that every time. We do a great job at holding each other accountable, whether I can make a better throw or him doing a better route. Whatever it is, we’re going to work on it together.

“We scored 34 points and we’re disappointed. That’s a good feeling. It’s a really good thing that as an offense we’re there. If we can have that many yards and points and still feel like we haven’t scratched the surface of what we can do. That’s a good thing.”

[BAIR: Raiders defense upset after win, must 'stop playing Santa Claus']

Cornerback Sean Smith had his second interception this season against Philip Rivers, and it was a beauty. He baited a deep throw, undercut a route and stole the show. It was one of four turnovers, which would typically be a point of postgame pride.

Not when paired with 423 yards allowed, including 359 through the air.

“When you think about those yards, when you go into the details as a defense this is going to catch up to us,” Smith said. “We have some work to improve, but we’ll take this win.”

The Raiders aren’t disappointed to be 4-1, in a tie atop the AFC West. Not by a long shot. They aren’t thrilled with current play, believing there’s great potential unrealized within this group.

Working while winning is an NFL team’s ultimate goal, with a peak somewhere closer to winter. The Raider chests haven’t puffed over this hot start, a fact appreciated by this coaching staff.

“I think we have a healthy perspective of what we want to look like and knowing that we’re not quite there,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There is a lot of work in front of us. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. There is a long season in front of us, a lot of things we must do better as we go forward. We’re working hard at it. We’ll continue that. I think the fact that the guys recognize that is a healthy thing.”

This isn’t to say the Raiders aren’t doing several things right. They rank No. 3 in the NFL with a plus-7 turnover margin.

They have the No. 3-rated total offense, which averages 28.4 points per game. Their red-zone efficiency has been excellent. Carr’s now considered a top-flight quarterback, with a 102.3 passer rating, 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and two fourth-quarter comebacks to his credit. Cooper has been dynamic; Crabtree has been clutch. The run game’s been efficient with 5.0 yards per carry.

And, above all else, these Raiders have finished strong. They’ve won three times when trailing late, with their best performance in the fourth quarter.

There is some wonder how often the Raiders can dig a hole and then strike oil. Del Rio doesn’t think his team is playing with fire.

His players would like to get up early and stay there one of these weeks, instead of relying on heroics for every win.

“One thing about this team is we don’t give up,” safety Reggie Nelson said. “We’ve showed that numerous times now. We really don’t want to be in that position, but it just so happens to be it. We just got to keep on getting better each week and not put ourselves in those positions.”

The stress won’t wear on the Raiders when they win. Losing consecutive close ones certainly will, but confidence built early can maintain optimism through rough patches. The Raiders are still in search of a complete win, one that would be give heart rates respite.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to do the stress and drama in the end,” Carr said. “That would be nice, but knowing this league, we’re going to keep fighting, straining. Coach Del Rio uses that word a lot, strain. It’s never going to be easy. We can never expect it to be easy. We have to go out there and strain for everything and earn everything.”

Sitting at 4-1, the Raiders haven’t earned anything yet. It constitutes a hot start to be sure, and is encouraging that wins have come without the Silver and Black’s best. The ultimate goal is to win the AFC West and/or end a 13-year playoff drought. That’ll take several more wins, especially in a division featuring the Super Bowl champs. 4-1 is a hot start, nothing more.

“It’s nice, but the road still goes to Denver,” Carr said. “They are Super Bowl champs, division champs. I will always pay respects to them because that’s what they’ve earned. We have earned absolutely nothing yet. We have earned four wins in five games, which is a great feeling. It’s a great feeling, trust me. Don’t twist that. It feels really nice, but we haven’t done anything yet.”
 

Marshawn Lynch's mom definitely wants Khalil Mack back on Raiders

Marshawn Lynch's mom definitely wants Khalil Mack back on Raiders

While Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is a man of few words, his mom, Delisa, never has been known to bite her Twitter fingers.

One day after Marshawn spoke to the media about what's wrong with the Raiders, his mom did the same thing -- except her response was more succinct.

Without edge rusher Khalil Mack, who was traded to the Chicago Bears before the season opener, the Raiders have struggled to rush opposing quarterbacks. On the flip side, Mack has been in a pain in the rear end for the offensive lines of the Packers, Seahawks and Cardinals, with 13 total tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and a pick-six in three games.

The Raiders as a team, over the first three games, have five sacks and zero forced fumbles.

We'll guess that just about every Raiders player privately agrees with Mama Lynch. We know every Raiders fan definitely agrees with her.

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Raiders snap count: Bruce Irvin's opportunities decrease in heavy rotation

Raiders snap count: Bruce Irvin's opportunities decrease in heavy rotation

MIAMI -- The Raiders need more from Bruce Irvin.

Coach Jon Gruden made that clear last week. The effort is there, Gruden said, but the production isn’t at a level required to generate pressure on the quarterback.

He was right. Irvin had two pressures through two games, a strip sack in the opener and a quarterback hit in Week 2.

In Week 3, he didn’t have a ton of opportunities on a hot, humid day where the Raiders played just 44 defensive snaps. He played 26 downs in Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins, just 59 percent of the overall total.

A heavy rotation continued up front, but those spelling Irvin didn’t offer much. Shilique Calhoun wasn’t in the right spot while subbing for Irvin in the third quarter, and Jakeem Grant blew right by him for an 18-yard touchdown.

Irvin played a lot more for the previous Raiders coaching staff, who used him and edge rusher Khalil Mack on virtually every down.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther prefers keeping guys fresh, but Irvin and Frostee Rucker are the Raiders' best edge run defenders. Irvin definitely is their best edge pass rusher, and Raiders need him to find his way back to the quarterback.

The coaching staff seems committed to starting captain Reggie Nelson and playing him regularly, though it will be interesting to see if Erik Harris can chip away at Nelson’s snaps as the season progresses.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie rotated in on defense as he did in Week 1, taking series from Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin. Raiders cornerbacks have been the steadiest part of an ailing defense that can’t hold strong for four quarters.

The receiver corps also got shaken up some in Miami. Seth Roberts played significant snaps in the first two games, but he was a healthy scratch Sunday. Martavis Bryant pushed Roberts down on the priority list, and now it seems veteran Brandon LaFell has caught up quick enough to start earning more playing time.

The total number of snaps also is of note. The Raiders dominated time of possession, holding the ball more than 17 minutes longer than the opposition, and totaled just 20 points. The Dolphins, by contrast, used some trickery to create big plays and efficient scores in just 44 plays.

The Raiders allowed five plays of 20-plus yards, including three touchdowns from at least 34 yards out. That will get you beat. So will struggles in the red zone, where the Raiders were 2-for-5 with an interception and a turnover on downs.

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 76
Quarterback -- Derek Carr 76
Running back -- Marshawn Lynch 42, Jalen Richard 20, Keith Smith 19, Doug Martin 13
Wide receiver -- Amari Cooper 60, Jordy Nelson 55, Maratvis Bryant 35, Brandon LaFell 33, Dwayne Harris 2
Tight end -- Jared Cook 62, Lee Smith 19, TE Derek Carrie 18
Offensive line -- Gabe Jackson 76, Kolton Miller 76, Rodney Hudson 76, Kelechi Osemele 76, T.J. Clemmings 58, Donald Penn 18, Jon Feliciano 2

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 44
Defensive line -- Clinton McDonald 34, Maurice Hurst 28, Bruce Irvin 26, Johnathan Hankins 23, Frostee Rucker 22, Arden Key 19, Fadol Brown 14, Shilique Calhoun 9
Linebacker -- Tahir Whitehead 44, Marquel Lee 28, Derrick Johnson14, Emmanuel Lamur 11, Nicholas Morrow 2
Defensive back -- Reggie Nelson 39, Rashaan Melvin 33, Leon Hall 33, Marcus Gilchrist 33, Gareon Conley 31, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 24, Erik Harris 17, Karl Joseph 1

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 23
Lee 23, Rodgers-Cromartie 22, Harris 22, Kyle Wilber 22, Carrier 19, K. Smith 18, Morrow 18, Harris 16, Calhoun 14, Mike Nugent 9, Melvin 9, L. Smith 9, Gilchrist 8, Richard 8, Johnny Townsend 7, Trent Sieg 7, Lamur 6, Whitehead 5, Nelson 5, McDonald 5, Irvin 4, Rucker 4, Key 4, Miller 4, Feliciano 4, Jackson 4, Osemele 4, Clemmings 4, Joseph 3, Conley 2, Brown 1, Nelson 1, LaFell 1, Penn 1

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