Raiders

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been blown out in three straight games. The latest rout came Sunday in a 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The first two happened away from the friendly confines of the Coliseum. This one happened here in the East Bay, the second-to-last time the Raiders will play in Oakland.

That means something to head coach Jon Gruden, who doesn’t want the fire to go out in Oakland without the Raiders making a final stand. The Raiders have one more chance to impress here next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Gruden vowed to turn over every rock he can to produce a better effort than what the home fans saw this past Sunday.

That’s especially true of a defense that allowed 35 points -- the other seven came on a fumble returned for a touchdown -- and an incredible 552 yards to the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans.

The coverage was poor. The pass rush was bad. Tackling was subpar. Those facts have flown below the radar, with all the ire aimed at quarterback Derek Carr and his decision to throw it away on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

Poor defense is a major problem, though yards allowed have been an issue most of the season. Opportunistic and clutch play got the defense by in victories but has been absent in defeat. Against the Titans, that unit may have reached a new low.

“It’s like getting punched in the stomach. It knocks some wind out of you,” Gruden said. “Anytime a team takes the ball the length of the field that many times, it’s hard to do in this league. We’ve done a pretty good this year offensively of sustaining some long 80-yard drives, but sometimes you got to win the game of field position, you’ve got to force a three-and-out. We weren’t able to do that yesterday from the jump and very, very concerned about it and we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to get it right.”

One problem: there aren’t many changes left to make. It’s hard to imagine any promoted practice-squad players making a quantifiable difference. There’s enough depth to make some changes at linebacker. We’ve seen snaps dwindle from certain defensive linemen. The secondary could get shaken up a little bit. All that, however, might be shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship.

[RELATED: Gruden says Jacobs, Brown could possibly return to Raiders]

That won’t stop Gruden from trying. He refuses to wave a white flag on the season, even if better options aren’t crystal clear.

“[Recent play] is sickening. [Changes are] tough, but it’s a necessary evil,” Gruden said. “Right now, we’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better, and there will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted an expanded class in honor of the NFL’s 100th season, providing an opportunity to right some wrongs from way, way back.

They formed a blue-ribbon panel to select a larger group for induction, including 10 seniors who played at least 25 years ago, two coaches and three contributors.

But that still was not enough to get Cliff Branch in the Hall.

The legendary Raiders receiver was not included among the inductees, a disappointing turn for a Raiders franchise still mourning Branch’s loss.

Branch passed away last summer at the age of 71. Making the Hall of Fame proved elusive for the three-time Super Bowl champion and dangerous deep threat known for elite athleticism and speed.

[RELATEDBranch leaves lasting NFL legacy, earned Hall of Fame induction]

He had 501 catches for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns, averaging 17.3 yards per reception. Those totals match some of his contemporaries who have been enshrined, but his case has yet to be validated with a positive vote.

This was Branch’s best chance to get in. Now he’ll be reliant on the senior committee, which nominates one or two older players for enshrinement every year. Quarterback Ken Stabler was the last Raider inducted by the senior committee in 2016.

Roger Craig, who played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991, also was not selected.

The centennial class of enshrinees will be joined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 by five modern-era players who will be elected the day before Super 54 in Miami.

Here is the complete list of inductees selected by the blue-ribbon panel as part of the 2020 Hall of Fame Class that consists of 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches:

Coaches

Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Jimmy Johnson – 1989-1993 (Dallas Cowboys(, 1996-99 (Miami Dolphins)

Contributors

Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 (NFL Films)
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 (NFL)
George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-1974 (Baltimore Colts), 1975-78 (Miami Dolphins), 1979-1997 (New York Giants), 1998-2001 (NFL)

Seniors

Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 (Philadelphia Eagles), 1984 (Dallas Cowboys)
Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 (Chicago Bears)
Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 (Green Bay Packers)
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 (Dallas Cowboys)
Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 (New York Jets), 1977 (Los Angeles Rams)
Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 (Detroit Lions)
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Duke Slater, T – 1922 (Milwaukee Badgers), 1922-25 (Rock Island Independents), 1926-1931 (Chicago Cardinals)
Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 (Cleveland Browns AAFC/NFL)
Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 (Chicago Bears)

NFL rumors: Raiders fire D-line coach Brentson Buckner after one season

NFL rumors: Raiders fire D-line coach Brentson Buckner after one season

Brentson Buckner's time with the Raiders appears to be over after only one season. 

NFL Media's Jim Trotter reported Tuesday that the Raiders have fired Buckner and will name Rod Marinelli as their new defensive line coach. As Trotter pointed out, the Raiders improved tremendously under Buckner in 2019, improving their sack total by 19 compared to the previous season. 

Buckner reacted to the news later Tuesday afternoon.

While the Raiders vastly improved their sack numbers, they still finished the regular season tied for 24th in the NFL. But fifth-round draft pick Maxx Crosby finished the season with 10 sacks and 14 QB hits this season as a rookie, and there's no doubt Buckner played a large role in Crosby's fast transition to the NFL.

Marinelli served as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator since the 2014 season. He coached the team's D-line the year before. 

[RELATED: Gruden, Mayock spotted at East-West Shrine Bowl practice]

The Cowboys ended 2019 with 39 sacks, good for 19th in the league.

Coach Jon Gruden's decision to fire Buckner as one year in Silver and Black surely comes as a surprise.