Raiders

Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 27-24 loss to Texans

Raiders report card: Grades on offense, defense in 27-24 loss to Texans

HOUSTON -- The Raiders couldn’t finish off the Texans on Sunday, ending up on the wrong end of a game they controlled most of the afternoon. DeShaun Watson squeaked out a 27-24 victory that left the Raiders ruing missed opportunities to complete a five-game road trip with a win.

There was plenty of blame to go around after this one, with better second-half defense and big plays converted on offense required to win an important game as we near the season’s halfway point.

The Raiders were competitive but not quite good enough to claim victory. Let’s see how the Raiders graded out in this week’s report card:

Rushing Offense

The Raiders were efficient on the ground, as we’ve come to expect from a dominant offensive line and Josh Jacobs’ elusiveness. He had 66 yards on 15 carries, though he seemed to be on a pitch count after dealing with a shoulder injury. The workload spread out a bit more than usual against a solid Texans run defense, but the Raiders still churned out 93 yards on 4.0 yards per carry.

The run game wasn’t completely dominant but it was impactful. Left guard Richie Incognito will certainly not like a fourth quarter holding call that set the Raiders back on a comeback attempt.

Grade: B

Passing Offense

The Raiders were taking yards in chunks, with Derek Carr finding Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow on deep touchdown passes. The Texans did a solid job slowing tight end Darren Waller, but that created more chances for Williams down the field. He didn’t capitalize on enough of them, with two long passes on their comeback drive that he wasn’t able to come down with in his return to action following a two-game layoff.

Williams is a No. 1 receiver and simply has to make those plays. He admitted as much after this loss. Carr went a third straight game without being sacked, another gold star effort from the offensive line. But when the Raiders had to have a big play, passes hit the turf. That can’t happen on the road, against good teams.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing Defense

The Raiders' run defense has been strong all season, but they didn’t handle a running quarterback particularly well. The Texans had 130 yards on 32 carries, including 46 from Watson.

Carlos Hyde did some nice work, with 83 yards on 19 carries. He converted a third down with a 10-yard draw run that kept a Texans touchdown drive alive. That was as key as play as any in this game.

Grade: C-minus

Passing Defense

Watson tormented the Raiders defense on this day, escaping sacks and quarterback pressure with his speed and elusiveness, able to make big plays on the move. The Raiders had three sacks but needed a few more they should’ve had down the stretch.

The Silver and Black had no answers for DeAndre Hopkins, who had 11 receptions for 109 yards on 13 targets. Darren Fells had two touchdown catches, as tight ends continue to plague the Raiders defense. They haven’t had a takeaway in two straight losses, and Trayvon Mullen had a golden opportunity for a pick six but couldn’t hang on.

Grade: D-plus

[RELATED: Watson's magic frustrates Raiders]

Special Teams

Punter A.J. Cole had a solid day, with half his punts landing inside the opposing 20. The Raiders were solid in the battle for field position, but the defense allowed too many long drives.

Dwayne Harris is impactful in the return game but continues to battle an ankle injury. Daniel Carlson converted his only field goal attempt but certainly wanted a second one to tie it late in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B

Overall

The Raiders should’ve left Houston with a victory. Plain and simple. This isn’t a bad football team but it can’t win while having an off day in a few areas. That happened here, with too many opportunities missed. Jon Gruden’s coaching has been solid and the Raiders can compete with anybody, but have to do better in important moments and stop hindering themselves with penalties.

Winning is hard in the NFL. The Raiders can’t let chances to do so pass them by.

Grade: F

Jadeveon Clowney-Raiders rumors more fantasy than reality at moment

Jadeveon Clowney-Raiders rumors more fantasy than reality at moment

The Raiders made massive improvements to their defense during the offseason, hoping to inject some life into a unit that ranked 31st in DVOA in 2019.

But with one big fish still swimming in the free agency ocean, the Silver and Black might not be done yet.

Jadeveon Clowney has been biding his time during free agency, waiting for an offer that matches what he believes he is worth. That number started at between $20-22 million and reportedly has been lowered to around $18 million. Clowney reportedly has an offer from the Cleveland Browns with the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans also in the mix. On Monday. Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan in Denver reported that the Raiders had joined the party and offered Clowney a contract. He also reported that head coach Jon Gruden would like to up the offer to get Clowney. Lammey reports the offer is lower than two or three other teams and owner Mark Davis and general manager Mike Mayock are hesitant to increase it.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

This is where we need to separate fantasy from reality.

Clowney is a talented player and he undoubtedly would help a Silver and Black pass rush that has struggled since Khalil Mack was shipped off to the Chicago Bears. Clowney is a sexy name and it's easy to automatically plug him on the Raiders' defensive line along with Maliek Collins, Maurice Hurst and Clelin Ferrell/Maxx Crosby and see an improved unit that can give teams problems in the AFC West.

But that $18-20 million is a massive price tag for a player whose production doesn't match the number he's currently asking for. Clowney notched just three sacks last season for the Seahawks and has yet to record a double-digit sack season since being draft with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Per Spotrac, Clowney's projected open-market is around $17.1 million. So his initial asking price already overshoots his on-field production and it's fair to see a number of teams asking to see more sacks, pressures and QB hits before paying the $17 million.

Clowney's health also is of concern. While the South Carolina product only has missed nine games in five seasons, there are some issues about the core and knee injuries he's sustained during his career. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it's difficult for players to travel and get evaluated by a team's medical staff and that makes owners unwilling to open their checkbook.

This brings us to the second hurdle in any Clowney-Raiders marriage. According to the NFL Player's Association public salary cap report, the Raiders currently have $7.9 million in cap space. But that number will shrink once the Raiders have agreed to terms with all of their recent draft picks, including first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette. At the moment, the Raiders still need to clear some cap space in order to sign their entire rookie class. They simply lack the cap space, at the moment, to add Clowney at the number he's been demanding.

Of course, there are always to fit a player in. But for the Raiders to add Clowney at the number he wants, it likely would require a large chunk of the cash to come in the form of a signing bonus and the Raiders still would have to clear space by cutting some players. Right guard Gabe Jackson's contract became guaranteed last month. Quarterback Derek Carr's contract is the Raiders' most pliable but he's set for what could be a career year in Las Vegas.

Plain and simple: It's difficult to see the Raiders finding a way to fit Clowney in at his preferred number.

[REALTED: Renfrow's growth key to Raiders' offensive resurgence]

The Raiders currently are relying on Crosby, Ferrell and free-agent addition Carl Nassib to provide the heat off the edge. Last season, the Raiders recorded just 32 sacks, a number that must improve for them to make way in a tough AFC West.

Increasing pressure on the quarterback is paramount for the Raiders, but Clowney isn't a double-digit sack maven. He's been more of a run-stopper during his NFL career and his production hasn't been equal to the contract he desires. He's a big name who will come with a price tag he hasn't earned.

If the Raiders can find a way to get him at a discount as the season approaches it obviously would be worth it. But right now, any pact between Clowney and the Raiders is more fiction than reality.

Raiders discussing fan options at Allegiant as 2020 NFL season nears

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USATSI

Raiders discussing fan options at Allegiant as 2020 NFL season nears

As the NFL regular season approaches, assuming the rise in COVID-19 cases doesn’t cancel it, the Raiders are having ongoing internal discussions about a number of different options and approaches for a rabid season-ticket base that completely sold out brand new Allegiant Stadium.

As the Raiders continue to sort through the situation, they have indefinitely pushed back the deadline for final payment on 2020 season tickets. Meanwhile, longtime Raiders fans like Kenny King Jr., a Northern California resident and 2020 season-ticket holder, is holding out hope he will be front and center when the Raiders play their first season in Las Vegas.

“I definitely do intend to go to games this year and have already booked for the opener and Chiefs games,” said King, the son of former Raiders running back Kenny King.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal