Raiders

Jerry Jones helped make Los Angeles world's most-resistant football town

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AP

Jerry Jones helped make Los Angeles world's most-resistant football town

Jerry Jones thinks Roger Goodell is an overpaid buttinsky and mall cop and wants him to be served a great whopping helping of chicken-fried crow.

Fine. If Goodell gets a paycheck haircut, what care we? If he gets shown the door, not a problem. He went from amiable servant of the people to arrogant and bullying poop-emoji in quicksilver time, and one does not cross the boss too many times without being crossed off the list.

But the NFL’S ALREADY burgeoning list of issues has increased by one – the Los Angeles Sinkhole – and the man who presented that one was, yes, Jerry Jones.

Jones is the one who whipsawed the deal by which the St. Louis Rams moved west to solve a problem that wasn’t rather than run point on the San Diego Chargers/Oakland Raiders stadium time share plan that would have definitively solved two others – all because he liked Stan Kroenke’s portfolio a lot more than Dean Spanos’ billfold or Mark Davis’ rubber band.

But he also saw to it that Spanos would not be left in the cold and helped broker the deal that allowed him to go to L.A. anyway.

And what did all that Jerry arm-wrenching work do for his partners? It made Los Angeles the world’s most football-resistant town.

The citizens have voted with their feet and made the Rams an uncool thing and the Chargers a veritable slum. They choose with great and careful thought to avoid both the Coliseum and StubHub Center as though the game-day giveaway was an anthrax-coated trucker’s hat – not because they hate the Rams and Chargers, or because they love the Raiders so much, but because when push comes to shove, Californians say no by not caring.

And let’s be honest here – disinterest is worse than hatred.

There are those who have called this an embarrassment to the league, but that misses the target. The league is 32 men, of which only a few control the rest as long as everyone gets paid. And the strongest of those men wasted the Los Angeles “opportunity” and gutted the fan bases of two teams just for a real estate deal and because he just liked rolling with other billionaires.

And if the Raiders don’t hit the ground at a dead sprint in Las Vegas, there may be a third – although in fairness that is not so much Jones’ work as it is Davis’ persistence and ability to find tactical geniuses to guide him to what he wanted, even if it doesn’t turn out to be what he needs.

In short, whatever happens in the Goodell-v.-Jones battle, you have no rooting interest save perhaps mutually assured destruction. We can all live better with that as a possibility.

 

Jon Gruden admits Khalil Mack trade hurting Raiders in 2018

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USATSI

Jon Gruden admits Khalil Mack trade hurting Raiders in 2018

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders are winless after three games, unable to finish games well enough. A thin defensive depth chart partially is to blame for fourth-quarter collapses.

Coach Jon Gruden plans to rebuild his defense from the ground up, an effort that will take time.

Gruden has a long-term vision, which the Khalil Mack trade will help facilitate. The move didn’t do the 2018 Raiders any favors, a point Gruden conceded unprompted Monday, when asked about finding balance between the big picture and trying to win each and every game.

“It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard to trade one of your best players, one of the best players on a franchise,” Gruden said. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the players. We didn’t get anything for him that’s going to help us out this year. [Injured nose tackle] Justin Ellis hasn’t played. We have a lot of guys on the defensive line that are out. We have had to replace basically the entire secondary, some of the linebackers.

“We’re in the process of putting the pieces back together. That’ll be exciting. But right now we just have to continue to get ready for each game individually. Right now it’s Cleveland. They’re a football team that’s emerging. They’ve drafted a lot of good, young players. It’s starting to show on film. [Baker] Mayfield is the real deal. This young man can play.”

It remains difficult to move on from the Mack trade, which gleaned a compensation package from Chicago that includes two first-round picks.

It doesn’t help that Mack is wrecking shop in the Windy City. He has more sacks (4), forced fumbles (3), fumble recoveries (1) and defensive touchdowns (1) than the entire Raiders defense. Oakland's front has 23 total pressures, per analytics site Pro Football Focus. Mack has 20 on his own.

Those numbers, and all the losing, has made it tougher to forget that Mack is playing elsewhere. It will get easier after Gruden uses draft picks from the trade, and if the Raiders can build positive momentum this season. That hasn’t happened just yet, with another tough test coming up against Cleveland.

Raiders notes: Jon Gruden calls Derek Carr 'too aggressive' on end-zone pick

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USATSI

Raiders notes: Jon Gruden calls Derek Carr 'too aggressive' on end-zone pick

ALAMEDA -- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr launched a pass toward the end zone’s back left corner, trying to connect with Martavis Bryant on a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Xavien Howard stole possession instead. The Miami cornerback intercepted his second Carr pass of the day, and was an integral as any in the Dolphins’ 28-20 victory over the visiting Raiders.

Carr said Sunday night that it was a decision he would make again based on the matchup and Bryant’s ability to secure passes in the air.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden might not agree, especially with the pass coming on first down and other opportunities had that pass fallen incomplete or been thrown away.

“I thought we were too aggressive,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “I think at times he is trying too hard. We will talk about that extensively here in the next couple of hours, but I thought he played really good under some very tough circumstances. I think sometimes he needs to learn a little bit more patience, and I think he will.

“I’m really excited about the way he has played and improved and mastered this offense. We are getting closer. That was a painful turnover. We will address that, and we will make the corrections.”

Gruden believes without doubt that Carr will thrive in his system and find balance between playing it safe and pushing the ball down field.

Carr has completed 76.6 percent of his passes through three games for 936 yards. That’s good. Having five interceptions and just two touchdown passes isn’t ideal at this stage.

“I think we need to clean up the turnover ratio, No. 1,” Gruden said. “I think when you throw for 80 percent basically in three games for almost 1,000 yards, that’s as good as I’ve ever been associated with.”

Turnovers, however, are a problem in general. They sport a minus-4 turnover ratio, with one takeaway to Carr’s five picks.

“We’ve got to get more hats to the football,” Gruden said. “We’ve got to rip it out. That’s winning football, winning the turnover battle. We’re turning it over too many times. We’re not getting it back enough. That’s a big reason, if not the No. 1 reason we’re sitting where we are.”

Raiders working out kickers

Mike Nugent made every Raiders kickoff and hit two field goals, including one from 52 yards, against the Dolphins. He gutted out that game despite suffering a hip injury that could impact his ability to play next week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders have to set up Plan B, and will bring several kickers in for workouts this week.

Penn doing well

Right tackle Donald Penn played just 18 offensive snaps before bowing out over concerns about a concussion. The Raiders feared the veteran had one, though Gruden said Penn was evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.

Gruden believes Penn will be fine and could play against the Browns.

Penn and replacement T.J. Clemmings struggled against Miami, combining to allow two sacks, two quarterback hits and a hurry.

In other injury news, Karl Joseph will miss a game at least with a hamstring strain.