Raiders 'had a dream,' reach playoffs by sticking with the plan

Raiders 'had a dream,' reach playoffs by sticking with the plan

SAN DIEGO – The Raiders didn’t win the Super Bowl on Sunday in San Diego. They didn’t even clinch an AFC West title.

A 19-16 victory over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium secured the Raiders’ first playoff berth since the 2002 season. That’s something special but, as head coach Jack Del Rio reminds us, “we have designs on more.”

The Raiders want to win a division, a conference title and a league championship. Del Rio has never been afraid to dream big. Those goals can’t be attained right now. They’ll need to stave off Kansas City in the regular season and then go on a playoff run to reach a desired peak.

While we’re here, let’s stop and ponder what was accomplished as Sunday afternoon pushed to evening. Sure, the Raiders are back in the playoffs after a 13-year drought. Let’s think in shorter terms.

They were 0-10 and eventually 3-13 just two seasons ago. They finished 2015 disappointed at 7-9 in Del Rio’s first year here. Now they’re one of the NFL’s best.

Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and the 2014 draft class longed for a quick about face. It seemed easier dreamt than done. Del Rio and staff pushed things along, and general manager Reggie McKenzie kept the talent flowing in. Those divisions worked in concert to reach the postseason.

Getting to this point isn’t an end goal, but it’s certainly an important milestone. That’s especially true for those who pushed through a disastrous 2014 season.

“We wanted to take this team to a place it hadn’t been in 14 years now. That was a part of it when (the 2014 draft class) came in,” Carr said. “We were going to make the playoffs. We were going to turn things around. We had a vision. We had a dream in our hearts.

“When you’re 0-9, 0-10, it seems so far away, but through tough times you find out what kind of person you are. We had to work and grind. Then we went 7-9 and fell short again. We continued work through another offseason, another year. Those days get long. When a group comes together and stays the course, then we can do things like this.”

Staying the course is a major reason why the Raiders are at this point and able to attain more. Del Rio mentioned it in his postgame remarks and thanked owner Mark Davis for trusting him and McKenzie to execute a plan. There were certainly times when McKenzie took serious heat rebuilding the franchise, but Davis stuck by his man. They eventually got the head coach right after a flailing swing at the first pitch, and found a leader in Del Rio who was a correct fit for the franchise.

“Mark Davis has really allowed Reggie and I to do the things that we need to do to make this franchise great again,” Del Rio said. “The whole idea of greatness starts with leadership at the top and him providing us with the resources and the opportunity to grow this football team the way we have over the last two years. I’m very appreciative of that.”

Even with eyes on bigger prizes, Del Rio told his team to enjoy the moment. They aren’t easy to come by. The Raiders hope to contend every year, and make playoff berths commonplace. They aren’t right now, and he knows that. Let the franchise as a whole, from ticket sellers to equipment managers to security personnel bask in a job well done awhile before honing on what’s next.

The players certainly enjoyed it, especially those who remember was 3-13 was like.

“This feels good,” left tackle Donald Penn said who signed with Oakland in 2014. “Especially considering where we came from my first year to now, it’s a big turnaround. I’m happy for Mr. Davis, Mr. McKenzie and all those guys in the front office because they stuck with the plan. They stuck with it. Mr. Davis gave them the trust, and it’s coming to fruition now.”

NFL free agency: Raiders sign QB Mike Glennon to back up Derek Carr


NFL free agency: Raiders sign QB Mike Glennon to back up Derek Carr

The Raiders wanted an experienced backup quarterback behind Derek Carr, and got one Friday by signing Mike Glennon.

Now they hope he never plays. It’s still a vital role in meeting rooms and on-the-field, should an emergency arise on game day. Young bucks can get caught in the headlights. Veterans won’t be as good as the starter, but can generally function better being inserted into a game without many practice reps.

He has hopped into action during five seasons and has 22 starts, meaning he can handle short-relief or a stretch as the starter.

That calms some fan's nerves after the Raiders released AJ McCarron, who has already signed with the Houston Texans, leaving Nathan Peterman as the only non-Carr quarterback on the roster.

Glennon steps into the No. 2 slot having completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 5,107 yards and 35 touchdowns with 20 interceptions over five seasons.

Peterman is still with the Raiders on a futures contract, and is the No. 3 guy at the moment.

Many will look at the signing and wonder if it impacts the possibility of drafting a quarterback next month. It’s hard to rule anything out, but the disciplined choice would be to address the pass rush early and often in the 2019 NFL Draft, though a quarterback could get taken later in the selection process.

But…having Glennon on the roster won’t prohibit the Raiders from taking Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins. Would the Raiders eliminate the prospect of taking Quinnen Williams because interior pass rushers P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst were drafted last year? Absolutely not.

A edge rusher is the team’s most pressing need and must be addressed with quality and quantity before the season starts.

The Raiders don’t have to take a quarterback now in the draft, and adding Glennon takes the pressure off the demand to get another one down the line. Glennon should be viewed as a reliable backup who can step into service if Carr isn’t available.

Curtis Riley signs with Raiders to boost short-handed secondary

Curtis Riley signs with Raiders to boost short-handed secondary

The Raiders continued fleshing out their secondary on Friday agreeing on terms of a contract with safety Curtis Riley, the team announced Friday. The former New York Giant visited the team’s Alameda facility on Thursday and left without a deal, but he ended up taking the Raiders offer despite interest from other teams.

Riley hinted at a pact on Twitter on Friday, saying he was coming to the Bay Area. He’ll exchange coasts after starting all 16 games at free safety with last year’s Giants. He had 75 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups for that squad.

He’ll have an opportunity to play significant snaps in the Raiders secondary. High-priced free-agent signing Lamarcus Joyner is also a free safety, but is expected to play slot cornerback regularly in 2019, likely shuttling back and forth between positions.

Riley could step in as the free safety in sub packages that defenses spend significant time in nowadays. Erik Harris will compete for that role opposite strong safety Karl Joseph.

The Raiders have options in the secondary now, with the aforementioned safeties and depth at cornerback. Gareon Conley’s a virtual lock to start at one outside cornerback spot. Daryl Worley’s expected to return on a second-round free-agent tender, through Thursday’s signing Nevin Lawson will compete for time there as well. Last year’s fourth-round pick Nick Nelson will have to fight for time with this new defensive back depth chart.

The Raiders could well draft another defensive back as well, especially if a good one slips and becomes a great value pick.

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News of Riley’s agreement should excite quarterback Derek Carr. Riley’s a fellow Fresno State alum. and was teammates with Carr in 2013.

The Raiders also had interest in George Iloka, who played with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati. Iloka visited the Raiders complex Thursday, but left without a deal and scheduled other visits.