Raiders D-line coach Brenston Buckner breaks down young, talented group

Raiders D-line coach Brenston Buckner breaks down young, talented group

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t get after the quarterback in 2017. They were dead freaking last with 22 sacks that year, unable to generate heat with a ho-hum group.

They took a huge step up last season, with a respectable, middle-of-the-pack 38 sacks -- with 31.5 coming from defensive lineman.

Credit should be spread around some – Jason Pierre Paul gave the Bucs’ front some swagger – but position coach Brenston Buckner deserves a helping for such a turnaround in his first year with Tampa Bay.

The Raiders are hoping for a similar uptick. They were dead last with 13(!!) sacks in 2018, with only five sacks returning to the defensive front. Yeesh. That’s so bad the criticism bears repeating.

They added three NFL draft picks, including No. 4 overall selection Clelin Ferrell to the mix, and hired Buckner to strengthen a defensive line that might be the team’s greatest weakness and certainly an unproven commodity.

“I don’t consider myself a coach. I consider myself a teacher,” Buckner said on The Raiders Insider Podcast. “I want to teach these guys how to be better players who are more productive on the field. The 13 sacks did not scare me away.

“…There’s a thin between being good and bad in the NFL. These guys are good players, and I want to help them realize how good they can be. I didn’t come here wanting to chase sacks. I’m trying to create great football players who will naturally generate pressure. I’m not a miracle worker. I’m just here to help guys become better football players.”

This defensive line will remain a work in progress beyond this season, as talent is added in future offseasons and experience is gained. Right now, Buckner’s working with four rookies, a first-year player and three second-year guys. Only four defensive linemen on the 90-man roster have at least four years experience, and some might not make it to the fall.

That won’t alter Buckner’s syllabus one bit.

“I can go back to the basics, and that’s what football’s all about,” Buckner said. “It’s not a science. It was created by P.E. majors, for P.E. majors. It’s a simple, fundamental act of going out there and forcibly make a man do something he doesn’t want to do. My job is to give them tools to allow their athletic ability to dominate.”

Buckner discussed several key players on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast. Here’s what he had to say about some prominent members of the defensive line:

Clelin Ferrell

“He’s a great person off the field. We checked with everybody. Then you turn on the film, and this guy was productive on one of the best teams in college football over a long period of time against great competition. The better the competition was, the better he played. He was a lead dog, out there in the front. I like that about his personality. What I like most of all is that he’s always willing to do extra to make his teammates better.

“He’s not the classic top 5 pick, where it’s all about me, me, me. His mindset is on what he can do to help the team get better. By doing that, he’s always pushing himself to be at his best because it means more to not let his team down that does to reach his (individual) goals.”

Maxx Crosby

“Maxx has the size you love to see in a defensive end, and he also has speed to chase off the end and do a lot of things. Even though he went to a smaller program, he was productive against everyone he played against. He has the body and mindset and the attitude. That’s a big thing for me.

When I turned on the film, you could see his attitude in how he played the game. He hated being blocked. He competed until the end. His ‘strain plays,’ meaning he had to run someone down from behind or chase plays that weren’t coming to him, he busted his tail to get there. Those plays were better than almost anyone in the draft. That’s one thing you can’t coach.

"You can’t coach effort, and that’s something Maxx brought to the table."

Quinton Bell

“One thing he has that 99 percent of the defensive ends don’t have: the man runs a 4.33 (40-yard dash). He has speed. I definitely can’t coach that. He’s a guy who was a blank piece of paper just learning the position, but he has the skills and the want to get better.

"He looked so raw at the beginning of last year, but later on you can tell he knows what he’s doing. He progressively got better and better. When you get those type guys, you know that, three or four years down the road, they’ll be better than what they are now."

Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall

“You had young guys who had to learn on the job last year, which it one of the hardest things to do. You’re learning from your mistakes and trying to keep your head up high while you’re struggling. That’s going to help them in the long run.”

Arden Key

“We joked with him about this today. He arguably missed 13 sacks. When I say missed, it was him and the quarterback and he either missed the tackle or slipped or something. There are ways to help technique-wise. This game isn’t all about brute strength. There are techniques to help you get one more inch closer to the guy, and now instead of just missing or trying to make a one-arm tackle, you can get both arms around and make a play. That’s what Arden is working on.

[RELATED: These second-year players are key to Raiders' 2019 success]

“Arden can be a special guy. Arden was a special guy at LSU. He was a special guy coming out of high school. He has the talent. Now we as coaches have to hone in and he has to hone in (on technique). He has been working hard knowing that he can’t leave anything on the table. He can be a well-rounded football player.

"He’s getting stronger and faster and more technical. He wants to master the technique and disciplines of playing defensive line. That’s what it’s all about.”

Raiders Daniel Carlson wants to build on Raiders success, not replicate it


Raiders Daniel Carlson wants to build on Raiders success, not replicate it

The Minnesota Vikings took the first kicker in last year’s NFL draft, but that didn’t stop them from cutting Daniel Carlson at the first sign of trouble. The Auburn alum was off the roster following a rough go against Green Bay, suddenly on the street despite great power, accuracy and pedigree.

That transaction raised Rich Bisaccia’s eyebrow. The Raiders special teams coach considered a top talent, someone who could solve his in-season kicker issues with Giorgio Tavecchio cut in camp and Eddy Piñeiro and Mike Nugent on injured reserve. Bisaccia had an in with Carlson after helping recruit him to Auburn. That, the Raiders thought, would separate them from the competition when bringing him in for a workout.

Carlson still said no.

This wasn’t about the Raiders. He declined offers from everybody, as a matter of fact, choosing to work out kinks away from massive crowds and quick-to-judge head coaches with nothing invested in him.

“My agent and I obviously talked about it a good bit,” Carlson said. “We just felt like at that time I could take a break, work on some things that I wanted to work on. Once you get into the season, you’re just getting ready for Sunday. You’re getting ready for Sunday, so it was nice to be able to step back, be able to work on a couple little things and then be able to… I knew an opportunity would come. Obviously, I didn’t know where from, but I just wanted to make sure when that came I was ready and would be ready for the rest of the season.”

He made some tweaks and was eventually able to double back to the Raiders when he was ready. Patience proved a virtue for player and team.

Carlson was awesome after joining the Raiders, with a franchise-record 94.1-percent conversion rate. He hit 16 of 17 field goals in silver and black, including a game-winner as time expired on one of their four wins.

Carlson wants to match that effort in 2019 and for years to come as the Raiders kicker. He won’t compete for a gig this season but is still pushing for improvement and consistency through near-constant self-evaluation even now, when sailing on the calm.

“I think he’s working on getting a master’s in himself,” Bisaccia said. “I think he knows faster than anybody else what’s good about what he does and when it’s not the hit that he’s expecting to make. I think he can self-correct quickly and just our professional opinions we thought he was really a good player coming out. He was certainly a draft-able kicker and then when he became available we couldn’t get him for the first workout, he wanted to go work on a few things on his own and when he was ready for a workout we got him in. He did a tremendous job and now he’s ours.”

Carlson doesn’t subscribe to the ain’t-broke-down-fix-it model. He wants to build on last season’s success over simply replicating it. That more than anything else remains his drive heading toward the 2019 season.

“I wouldn’t say you ever maintain,” Carlson said. “I think you’re always getting worse or better. I think yes, I learned some things that worked last year and I want to keep those things going. But at the same time, I always want to improve. I’ve been working really hard this offseason. Obviously, I took a little break after the season ended and kind of got back to it. I want to continue to build off of what I had last year and the things that were going well. Still continuing to improve every day. I think for the most part I’ve been able to do that.”

Carlson’s able to get nit-picky these days, even looking at attempts that earned three points. He grades each one, and despite the pass-fail nature of his profession, he doesn’t view it as a zero-sum game. He also understands every kick won’t be perfect but needs even the subpar efforts to fly straight and true.

[RELATED: Simms ranked as Chris Simms' No. 18 overall QB]

Carlson is always working on an ironclad mental approach and consistent form that can be more challenging for someone standing 6-foot-5.

“Being taller you have to be very, very exact,” Carlson said. “Continuing to be able to do that nine out of 10 times, but now hopefully I’m going to be able to do it 99 out of 100 times. Just trying to get better each and every day.”

Watch Antonio Brown mic'd up at Raiders mandatory minicamp practice

Watch Antonio Brown mic'd up at Raiders mandatory minicamp practice

"Let's put a show on today."

Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown was chatting with quarterback Derek Carr during a recent mandatory minicamp and we were able to hear it all during an installment of "Mic'd Up."

The two went out on to the practice field and it was apparent Brown hasn't slowed down since being acquired by the Silver and Black.

He makes it look effortless as he grabs everything within reach all while receiving compliments from his quarterback.

As the team stood around on the sidelines, coach Jon Gruden added to the nice words saying AB was "killing it." And Brown responded in the most Brown-like way by saying he's going to kill it every day for Gruden.

[RELATED: AB sets a new standard during Raiders offseason]

AB has been truly dominating in his role being called the hardest worker Gruden has ever seen. The receiver came into his new digs fully prepared, and is not afraid to shy away on giving the team feedback while receiving advice from others as well.

This season will be an interesting one.