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.”

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders.

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on from the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Out of a possible 96 starts since being drafted by the Raiders in 2014, quarterback Derek Carr has been under center for 94 of them.

But after a disappointing 7-9 season, many Raiders fans have clamored for a change at the game’s most important position.

Carr, however, hasn’t paid the rumors or social media fodder too much attention.

“But I'll say it this way,” Carr said (h/t ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out -- until I'm done."

The 28-year-old had a career year in 2019, setting career-highs in passing yards (4,054), yards per attempt (7.9), and quarterback rating (100.8).

But coach Jon Gruden grew frustrated with Carr’s inability to throw the ball downfield consistently, and some potential free agent quarterbacks reportedly have caught the Raiders’ eye.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

As the team re-brands and moves into its new home in Sin City, some believe the team will bring on a new starting signal-caller to usher in the Las Vegas Raiders era.

Just don’t count Carr among them.