Raiders' Charles Woodson confident, secure in decision to retire


Raiders' Charles Woodson confident, secure in decision to retire

ALAMEDA – Raiders safety Charles Woodson woke up on an early Sunday morning in November in Michigan, the state where he went to college and rose to national prominence, and knew the end was near.

It wasn’t a sad moment in the slightest. It wasn’t a broken body tapping out, or a bruised ego conceding Woodson wasn't good enough

To the contrary. It was a man at peace admitting it’s time to move on.

“I knew the morning of the Detroit Lions game. For whatever reason, I was just certain,” Woodson said. “It was weird, but I knew this was going to be it.”

This season marks the end of an illustrious career. Woodson won a Heisman Trophy and a NCAA title at the University of Michigan. He won a Super Bowl and the NFL’s defensive player of the year award in 2009. He ranks fifth all-time with 65 interceptions, first with 13 defensive touchdowns and is the first player with at least 60 interceptions and 20 sacks.

[RATTO: Hall of Fame-bound Woodson leaves Raiders, NFL on own terms]

In short, Woodson is one of the best defensive backs to ever play football.

"It’s been an incredible career," Woodson said. "It goes beyond words. I never intended on playing as long as I have, but that’s the way it happened."

Woodson planned to tell the world after the season, but moved the announcement to Monday. Woodson informed owner Mark Davis, Raiders brass and his teammates of his decision to retire on, shortly before informing the public. That sets up one final goodbye on Thursday night against the Chargers.

“It was important for me to let Raider Nation know now,” Woodson said. “I felt that it would only be right that Raiders fans and my fans know that Thursday night will be the last time I run out there at home.”

Thursday will be one emotional night. It will be Woodson’s last night playing in Oakland. It could be the last night the Raiders play in Oakland. Ever.

“I’ve been emotional all day, really, so it will be that way Thursday for myself, for my family, friends, for Raider Nation,” Woodson said. “I feel like coming back here and playing for the second time, we were able to rekindle something that we had years ago, so it was really fun, man, coming back here and playing.”

Few teams believed Woodson could still play when the Raiders signed him in 2013. The Green Bay Packers cut him after seven seasons. The Denver Broncos offered a contract without guaranteed money. Only the Raiders threw real cash at Woodson, who was coaxed back to the team that drafted him by that fact and an army of fans waiting for him outside the practice facility.

Woodson was better than many expected, playing at a high level for two years when the team was awful. The 39-year old has five interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a force fumble in his final season, and should be named to his ninth Pro Bowl on Tuesday evening.

“I feel very good about the way I performed, not only this year, but my whole career,” Woodson said. “It’s the only way you’re able to play as long as I have, is to go out there and perform. To be performing at the level that I have this year, it just makes it all that much better.”

His performance, and the pleas of those around Woodson, couldn’t bring him back for another year. It wasn’t the wear of dealing with a dislocated shoulder all season that pushed him towards retirement.

[RELATED: Woodson announces he will retire at end of 2015 season]

“I think physically I could do it,” Woodson said. “My body has responded, but mentally it’s not there, not going to happen.”

Woodson has other interests and will transition seamlessly into post-NFL life. He operates a successful winery in the Napa Valley, has a wife and two young sons and seems destined for a second career as a TV football analyst.

“I know there will be a lot of opportunities to explore going forward,” said Woodson, who has already signed with a TV agent. “Right now, it’ll be about the family and then we’ll go from there.”

No matter what happens next, his 18-year NFL career will go down as one of the best ever. He’ll be part of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, and will be remember as one of the greatest players of a storied Raiders franchise.

“Charles Woodson is one of those players that comes along and reminds you why you love the game,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. “He is truly a one of a kind player that goes above and beyond his Heisman trophy and future gold jacket. It has been an honor to have worked alongside Charles for so many years and have the confidence to call him what he truly is: the G.O.A.T. He is, without a doubt, the embodiment of what it means to be a Raider.”

Why Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs say Raiders offense didn't meet high standard


Why Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs say Raiders offense didn't meet high standard

ALAMEDA – Raiders running Josh Jacobs had 112 rushing yards on 23 carries on Sunday against Cincinnati, the fourth time the rookie hit triple digits this season.

Jacobs couldn’t have cared less.

Quarterback Derek Carr completed his first 14 passes and hit on 24-of-29 passes for 292 yards and a triple-digit passer rating.

That stat line was met with a shrug.

The Raiders will gladly take a 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, but openly acknowledged an underwhelming offensive performance that must be improved against better competition.

“We could have had more,” Carr said. Honestly, that's how I feel. I left the game and I get our stat book and I looked at it and I was like, they look pretty, but I could have played better. I'm hard on myself. … I think that's the standard that Coach Gruden puts on me.”

Jacobs felt the same way, disappointed to leave plays unmade despite several highlights over his carry count.

“We left a lot of points out there as an offense,” Jacobs said. “I missed a couple holes. Honestly, It wasn’t a great game for me. I had 100-and-something yards or whatever, but there’s a lot to improve on.”

The Raiders offense had been humming. The unit had scored at least 24 points in six straight games over a 4-2 stretch. The unit was balanced, steady and impactful against some solid teams, creating the expectation the Raiders should go off against a Bengals team ranked 22nd against the pass and dead last against the run.

That didn’t happen. The Raiders weren’t bad, either. Not by a long shot. They converted half of their third- and fourth-down attempts. They accumulated 386 yards of offense and had nine explosive plays of 20 yards or more.

They misfired a few times, which bothered with Carr and Jacobs after this win. Jacobs fumbled in the red zone – that’s a major no-no – and Carr threw his first interception since Oct. 20 when Bengals safety cut off a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow. Those

“[Josh] never wants to put the ball on the ground,” Carr said. “I threw an interception, he fumbled. If Coach is going to put the ball in our hands every single play, one of us, then we need to be better."

This was a day where the Raiders held Cincinnati to 10 points, and just a field goal after the opening drive. After having to win so many high-scoring games, the offense didn’t have to do much in this one. They were productive but not efficient enough scoring, and the Raiders offense believe it didn’t do well enough even though the box score looks good.

“I'm never into fantasy stats or my stats or anything like that,” Carr said. “I'm into doing whatever [Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden wants me to do at a high level. I didn't do that well enough today.”

New guys D.J. Swearinger, Dion Jordan make instant impact in Raiders win


New guys D.J. Swearinger, Dion Jordan make instant impact in Raiders win

OAKLAND – Jon Gruden stood in front of his Raiders during a Wednesday team meeting. He introduced safety D.J. Swearinger and defensive lineman Dion Jordan to the full squad and made a simple, immediately granted request.

Knock on wood if you’re with them.

Nope. That wasn’t just a “Hard Knocks” gag. It’s a way of bringing everyone together and, in this instance, guys signed less than a week ago who would be counted on to make an immediate impact Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I definitely appreciated that,” Swearinger said. “I’ve never seen that anywhere else. The confidence he gives you as a player is great. You want to go to [play your heart out] for a guy like that.”

Swearinger and Jordan played significant roles and made significant contributions in a 17-10 victory over the Bengals.

Swearinger played in the base package and on most early downs and led the entire team with seven tackles. Jordan was an interior rusher on third downs and obvious passing downs and had a sack that forced a Bengals punt.

That was a big moment for the team and for Jordan personally. It was his first sack since last season, considering he sat out the first 10 games of 2019 while serving an NFL suspension. Jordan has had troubles with the league and was excited to return to the NFL stage. He’s on the right path now, sober more than three years and ready to get his NFL career restarted.

“With a guy like Dion Jordan, there are no judgements. We just want him to come in and do what he does,” said tight end Darren Waller, over two years sober after his own battles with addiction. “…We’ve had a relationship before he came here. It was good to see him and how he’s carrying himself and how he’s working. To see him get that sack today, I was really excited for him.”

The Raiders needed reinforcements after losing safety Karl Joseph and situational pass rusher Arden Key for the season in the past fortnight. Enter Swearinger and Jordan, needing to fit in quickly and contribute right away.

That doesn’t just happen. It takes time and lots of it in meeting rooms with position coaches trying to get guys ready and adapted to the scheme’s concepts and terminology.

This is nothing new for the Raiders, not after so much turnover at several position groups.

“The new guys get great, positive energy from the coaching staff,” Waller said. “They’ll be patient, but there’s also a sense of urgency with those guys. You see how it pays off. It’s amazing to see guys come in and contribute like they have on this team.”

[RELATED: Crosby-Mullen bond leads to win]

Swearinger has played for five teams – he was with Arizona twice – over seven seasons and has experienced a rush to adapt in-season once before. He was also comfortable with Paul Guenther’s system considering how similar it was to what he ran in Arizona earlier this year, but it still took tons of work to get ready for Sunday.

“I put in a lot of hours,” Swearinger said. “I came in and met with coaches over the weekend when I got here. I made sure I studied every night and definitely put in the work. It ended up with a great result.”