Raiders need Daryl Worley to be stabilizing force with secondary in flux

Raiders need Daryl Worley to be stabilizing force with secondary in flux

ALAMEDA -- Daryl Worley made the best play of his career nearly a month ago now. He covered Detroit receiver Kenny Golladay like a fire blanket, establishing a perfect position heading toward the end zone. He was able to turn around, see the ball thrown and track it before reaching up to make a spectacular one-handed interception.

That was a huge play in a Week 9 victory Worley will never forget. His real badge of honor doesn’t come from that. Worley takes pride in his reputation as someone teammates don’t have to worry about. He has been stable and steady in the three games since, allowing four receptions for 56 yards, with three passes defensed on 11 targets in that span.

That has been vital in recent weeks, during a period of upheaval in the secondary. Karl Joseph was lost for the season and Lamarcus Joyner has missed two games with a hamstring -- he’s expected back Sunday against Kansas City -- so Worley thought it important to be a rock on one side of the field.

“Being a stabilizing force is important at times like this,” Worley said. “That’s something I spoke with the coaches about back in OTAs. Coach Gruden challenged me to step and play the best football of my career. I feel like I have been doing that this season. Being my best each and every game day makes those around me better. Knowing that they can rely on me to make plays, I know that everyone else responds.”

Worley must continue his trend of solid coverage and make up for his worst game of the season. He allowed four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown on seven targets in a Week 2 loss to Kansas City, a when blown coverages and deep shots blew the game wide open.

Chiefs will test this secondary regularly, especially with Joyner coming off injury, Trayvon Mullen just a rookie and safety D.J. Swearinger new to this defense. The Chiefs have the speed to spare, so Raiders coverage must be better overall to keep up with the high-flying Chiefs attack.

That means Worley must be as reliable as he has recently.

“He’s a smart corner, and obviously athletic,” safety Erik Harris said. “He has the intelligence of a safety in how he sees the game from his position and obviously has the athleticism to play cornerback. You don’t have to have to worry about him. You just make sure he gets the call and then let him do his thing and play around him. You just let him make plays and get into the zone. That’s biggest thing about Daryl. He is always where he’s supposed to be.”

The Raiders planned to move Worley inside, into more of a hybrid safety role midway through this season -- they tried that experiment in Week 2 in an attempt to handle Travis Kelce -- but have largely abandoned that objective without the cornerback depth required to move him inside more often.

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He will be ready for anything against the Chiefs drawing tough assignments dealing with Chiefs speed quite often by himself. Worley must be steady and avoid major mistakes, but the Raiders might need some Lions-type interception magic to pull this one out.

“He’s done a good job. He’s really battled,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “The guy can play multiple positions for us. He does whatever you ask of him. Daryl is one of the best note takers in our room. He’s very prepared every week. He’s a guy that our young players look after. He’s a guy that can play all the spots.”

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:


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


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)


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. 

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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.