Raiders

With Khalil Mack gone, Raiders struggle to pressure Rams QB Jared Goff

With Khalil Mack gone, Raiders struggle to pressure Rams QB Jared Goff

OAKLAND -- The question isn’t going away. In fact, it only will grow louder and louder until someone steps up and silences the critics.

Who will pressure the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders?

That’s what happens when a franchise decides to trade an elite defensive player the week before the start of the regular season. There is a hole in the Raiders' scheme, and there isn’t one man on the roster who can fill the tremendous hole left by All-Pro Khalil Mack. 

In the team’s season-opening 33-13 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff sat back and picked the Raiders' secondary apart. Without a pass rush pressuring the third-year pro out of Cal, he opened up the field with his arm. With the defense chasing, the Rams turned to star running back Todd Gurley to further complicate matters.

“When you can run the ball like they ran in the second half, it’s very hard to rush the passer,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “Obviously, we didn’t get to Goff enough, and we didn’t get to Gurley enough. We’ll take a good look at the reasons why we didn’t.”

Bruce Irvin stepped up early, sacking Goff early in the second quarter and forcing a fumble that the Rams recovered. That was the last time the Raiders got to Goff the rest of the evening. 

“We knew we had to rush Goff and we couldn’t give him too much time,” Irvin said from his locker stall following the game. “I don’t think we did a good enough job of putting a lot of pressure on him.”

Irvin pointed to the Rams’ offensive line stunting and using play action to take advantage of the Raiders' speed rushers. The Raiders' defense only hit Goff twice the entire game, including Irvin's sack. 

“We’ve got work to do,” Raiders rookie defensive end Arden Key said. “We’re going to see on the film. We didn’t play good as a D-line. We missed some calls. Communication was bad. It’s the first game.”

Key had the only other QB hit recorded on the evening. For the Raiders to have any chance against the Denver Broncos next week, they’ll need to figure out how to break through and at least make Case Keenum move his feet. 

In case the Raiders needed any reminder of what they gave up in a trade that yielded two future first-round picks, Mack went off Sunday in his Bears debut. After signing a six-year, $141 million deal with Chicago, the 27-year-old picked up a sack and a fumble recovery, and intercepted a ball and returned it for a touchdown in the Bears' heartbreaking 24-23 loss to the Packers. 

Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season

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Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season

Daryl Worley’s shoulder popped out of its socket on a cold December day in Cincinnati, a painful predicament that had to be remedied right away. Getting it back in was imperative, but the Raiders cornerback wasn’t doing so just to feel better on the bench.

He wanted to get back in the fray. That impulse was strong despite a season already down the drain and zero financial security in the 2019.

“You have a drive as competitor that has been there since you were a kid,” Worley said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “Even though the season may not have been going as we would’ve hoped, I feel like it gets to a point where you grind for six months with guys who have become your brothers. You want to take care of yourself, but you also want to be out there with them.”

It’s that drive that drew head coach Jon Gruden to him last spring. He did some homework on a guy way too talented to be unemployed, someone mired in a rough patch.

“I can still see Worley on the sideline trying to knock his shoulder back into place and keep playing,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a tough guy. He has also had some adversity in his career, but I got a lot of respect for the way a man can get up off the ground and dust himself off given another opportunity.”

The Raiders provided a soft landing after a rough go in his native Philadelphia. The Eagles traded for him last offseason, but a run-in with the law while reportedly intoxicated and resisting arrest put him on the street.

Gruden scooped him up knowing a suspension was on its way, with unwavering support in public and private. Worley was quickly inserted into the lineup upon return, where he started nine games until that shoulder issue sidelined him in Cincinnati.

It required surgery heading into restricted free agency, a less-than-ideal scenario that could prompt the Raiders to offer a lower contract tender and prevent other teams from bidding for his services. The Raiders essentially locked him down with a second-round tender offer worth $3.095 million, meaning a team that signed him to an offer sheet the Raiders refused to match would’ve had to cough up a second-round pick. That’s really something, considering Worley was a third-round pick and the Raiders could’ve saved some coin by offering an original round tender that still would’ve been a preventive measure.

Worley appreciates the extra million bucks, but the respect factor might’ve meant more.

“When you’re getting a nudge like that, it’s both business and personal,” Worley said. “It shows the comfort they have in me, and a certain level of respect.

“I’m thankful and appreciative of everything they’ve done for me. I try to pay it back every day, with the type of professional I am and the type of player they expect.”

This is an important year for him to find top form, which is possible after recovering fully from shoulder surgery. While Worley feels a certain loyalty towards Gruden, he isn’t blind to the fact the Raiders drafted cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson in the first four rounds. Gareon Conley’s a long-term solution on one side, with plenty of present and future competition at his current spot.

The Raiders were nice about the RFA tender but didn’t extend a long-term deal, so Worley will enter 2019 with unrestricted free agency’s possible riches (and career transition) on the immediate horizon.

“As a human, you know the future is coming,” Worley said. “You think about it, but I just always feel that taking care of each day, everything else will handle itself.”

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for Raiders during offseason program]

Worley likes playing in Silver and Black, across from Conley. They have become friends since Worley signed up, and they lived together during this offseason program. Worley has high hopes for them as a shutdown pairing knowing he must do his part, as he enters his prime right now at age 24. Matching that level with Conley’s steady and top-end talent could create a real impact.

“I feel that that’s something we expect of ourselves and something we expect,” Worley said. “It’s a situation where we’re in our second year in the system and we shouldn’t just make some plays. We should also be the thing that sparks the defense and our team and changes games.”

Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

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Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

The Raiders are getting some business done before summer vacation truly starts. The Silver and Black signed a third member of their NFL draft class late Tuesday afternoon when No. 27 overall pick Johnathan Abram inked his rookie contract.

No. 4 selection Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 pick Trayvon Mullen signed earlier in the day.

No. 24 overall pick Josh Jacobs is the only Raiders draftee that remains unsigned, and it’s certainly possible his deal gets done before rookies formally leave on summer vacation later this week. They stayed an extra week after the offseason program’s end to work with the strength staff and player engagement department on off-the-field education common to all first-year NFL players.

Abram was slotted to receive a contract worth $11.45 million over four years that includes $6.380 million in a signing bonus. There’s also a fifth-year team option available that is standard for all first-round picks.

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for all Raiders during offseason program]

The Raiders selected Abram with the first-round pick the Dallas Cowboys gave up for Amari Cooper. Abram impressed during the offseason program and joined the first unit during the final week of OTAs. He was there again in minicamp, and a solid training camp could lock him into a starting safety spot right away.