Raiders

Raiders DE Mack named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

Raiders DE Mack named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

ALAMEDA – Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his extraordinary effort in a 30-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Mack was awesome in that game, with two sacks, eight quarterback pressures, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

His takeaway was well timed. It came in the fourth quarter, with Denver looking to trim a two-score lead. Mack sacked Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and recovered his own forced fumble to give his team possession. The Raiders turned that turnover into points with a Latavius Murray touchdown that established a late 17-point lead.

That helped Mack win AFC defensive player of the week honors twice in a row. He was also rewarded for a two-sack performance against Tampa Bay in Week 8.

Mack has seven sacks on the season, including six in the last four games. He had 15 last season, when he was named an All-Pro at two different positions.

Jon Gruden admits Khalil Mack trade hurting Raiders in 2018

grudenusatsi.jpg
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

derekcarrdolphinsusatsi.jpg
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.