Raiders

Stephen A. Smith rips 'absolute idiot' Antonio Brown over helmet drama

Stephen A. Smith rips 'absolute idiot' Antonio Brown over helmet drama

After all the hubbub about his helmet, including a retirement threat, Antonio Brown lost his grievance with the NFL and will return to camp to get ready for the new season. 

Big shocker.

There was a zero percent chance Brown was going to walk away from the new $50 million contract he signed with the Raiders over a helmet. He has a big ego and wanted to see if he could get away with it. The arbitrator said no, so now it's time to get back to business. 

Brown now reportedly will return to Napa, continue to get treatment on his feet ailment and likely be ready to go for the Raiders' Week 1 game against the Denver Broncos.

But is he worth all the stuff that comes with him? Not if you ask Stephen A. Smith. The ESPN talking head took Brown to task for his helmet nonsense on Tuesday's edition of "First Take," ripping the four-time All-Pro selection for being an "absolute idiot."

"Antonio Brown is not there just to produce on the field," Smith said. "He's there to help other guys along as well. They gave him $30 million in guaranteed dollars. You got this kid Darren Waller at your tight end and Tyrell Williams as the other wideout and what have you. Derek Carr still has some maturation to experience, and here you are acting like an absolute idiot over this helmet issue. Embarrassing yourself and some of your contemporaries, turning a plethora contemporaries in the National Football League against you because of the idiocy in which you allowed this situation to elevate to.

"To sit up there after all the noise that you made in the offseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which ultimately led Mike Tomlin to come out publicly and say: 'We want volunteers, not hostages.' And then for you to get moved to Oakland and to get $30 million in guaranteed dollars, and then to make a fuss talking about possible retirement over this helmet issue when you're the only player in the league with over 2,000 players to complain to this degree. He embarrassed himself over the last week or so. It was a damn shameful performance on his part." 

A fair critique of an absolutely nonsensical situation.

Brown never was going to retire. He knew that. Jon Gruden knew that. Everyone knew that. He wanted the spotlight and he got it.

Now, it's time for him to find a helmet and get back to work helping Gruden turn around a Raiders team that was woeful a season ago.

[RELATED: AB tweets in search of helmet he wants to wear]

The Silver and Black appear to be much improved from a year ago, but they'll need Brown to put the drama aside and be locked in if they plan to make a run at the playoffs. 

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

OAKLAND -- The Raiders are running on empty. They’ve lost too many over the trials of traveling so many miles, and they now seem set to crawl across this season’s finish line.

The Silver and Black survived on adrenaline for so long, but there’s simply nothing left. The Raiders might win another game or two, but it’s hard to imagine them playing well enough over four quarters to beat quality opposition.

The Raiders have valid reasons for wobbly legs. They have been dealing with drama since Antonio Brown went nuclear near summer’s end, with a steady stream of setbacks after that. Let’s not forget about the five-game road trip, the Vontaze Burfict suspension and all those injuries.

The instinct to excuse is strong and could explain this recent Raiders slide. Jon Gruden has gone down that road a few times this season, while ultimately assuming responsibility for this team’s shortcomings.

Derek Carr didn’t want to do that.

“Oh, it’s been crazy. Let’s not sugarcoat it,” Carr said Sunday after Oakland's 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “Let’s just be real about it. I’m into facts, and it’s been a really weird year. We can get into all the other stuff. Someone should write a book at some point about that, you know? Some of the stuff that went on, but nobody cares. I’m used to that.”

A book may detail this oddball season. The line on the Raiders’ 2019 Pro Football Reference page won’t include any of that. It’ll just reveal a record, some stats and a schedule’s results.

Maybe that’s fitting for a franchise with a simple, direct mantra: Just win, baby.

It’s not much different than Carr’s response to those asking how injuries and other setbacks impact how the team is playing now: Nobody cares.

We could also pair them together.

Nobody cares. Just win, baby.

“Nobody cares about the situation,” Carr said. “Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game, and it is what it is.”

The Raiders didn’t win enough football games down the stretch. The Silver and Black were loving life after a three-game winning streak pushed them up to 6-4 and in a great position to earn a playoff berth.

Fans were stoked, especially those in Oakland to dared to dream about the final East Bay campaign extended to the postseason. It was then that the expectations changed. The bar was raised before the Raiders cleared the original height.

Let’s not forget this is a rebuilding team that always eyed 2020 to fight for division crowns and wild-card spots. The team needs another excellent draft class and a productive free-agent signing period to further what Gruden started after being hired in Jan. 2018. First, there was a teardown. Then there was an ascent that began in earnest this season but didn’t solve all of this team’s problems.

The offense received perceived quick fixes. Some worked (Trent Brown). Some didn’t (Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams). The defense was always another year away while the unit was rebuilt with the draft, largely from the ground up.

The Raiders played better than the sum of their parts around midseason and were able to notch some good wins. But all the fatigue and attrition put the Raiders in a position where they can’t make up for mistakes of any kind. If Brown and rookie running back Josh Jacobs are done for the year -- that’s certainly possible now that playoff prospects have essentially been dashed -- struggles should continue.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders' offense hear boo birds as slide continues]

The next goal is to find a way to put on a good show in the final game played in Oakland. The Raiders have one left, coming up next week against Jacksonville. It might be tough considering the circumstances but, as we now know, nobody cares.

Just win the last one, baby.

“They deserve a fun showing, a fun game, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Carr said. “It’s honestly, it’s weird, it’s sad. I know some of the Raider faithful will probably be a little sad that it’s the last time, but it’s out of our control. I mean, it is what it is.”

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 42-21 loss to Titans

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USATSI

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 42-21 loss to Titans

OAKLAND – The Raiders’ season has taken a major downturn. A team once riding high at 6-4 with a realistic shot to make the postseason had their playoff hopes dashed by Sunday’s 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Oakland Coliseum.

Their season will be over soon enough, a fact cemented by the Silver and Black’s third straight blowout loss. Oakland kept it close before falling apart after halftime, much like the Raiders’ entire season. The game had some good moments but ultimately fell flat on its face.

The gas tank’s on empty at this stage, with the Raiders laboring to reach the finish the line. They couldn’t do that in this game, unable to match up with a suddenly high-octane Titans attack.

The Raiders are struggling mightily on offense and defense, without the talent or magic required to make good things happen. Positivity’s hard to find from another blowout loss, a fact reflected in this week’s Raiders report card:

Rushing offense

The Raiders ground game operated without Josh Jacobs for the first time all season despite the rookie dealing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7. He wasn’t able to go on Sunday and the Raiders offense suffered as a result. DeAndre Washington had 53 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a featured role, with Jalen Richard chipping in 28 yards on seven rushes.

Washington’s 14-yard touchdown run was his best, knocking a defender over on his way to the end zone. The Raiders were down to 4.0 yards per carry, with the run game removed from the offensive equation once the Titans went up big.

Grade: C

Passing offense

Derek Carr’s stat line looks nice, but completing 25-of-34 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks doesn’t reflect issues with this passing game. Receivers aren’t threatening, with Tyrell Williams and Zay Jones lacking chemistry with Carr. It’s uncertain who Carr truly trusts outside tight ends Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and his running backs.

There isn’t enough separation. The ball’s too often thrown short of the sticks. The air attack isn’t going well and hasn’t been in some time. Take away Rico Gafford’s 49-yard touchdown catch and there wasn’t much there.

Carr said life got harder in the second half after Tennessee started playing deeper, refusing to get beat by big plays. The Raiders couldn’t move the chains consistently enough to sustain drives or productivity required to beat the steadily churning Titans attack.

Grade: C-minus

Rushing defense

The Raiders got a heavy dose of Derrick Henry on Sunday afternoon, just as they expected. The imposing back churned out 103 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, rushing totals that could’ve been sky high had his attempts soared. That wasn’t necessary considering how well the passing game was going, and that quarterback Ryan Tannehill was able to scramble for yards as well.

The Raiders normally sport a strong run defense, but this tired front struggled against a big back who never seems to wear down.

Grade: D

Passing defense

Tannehill carved up the Raiders pass defense, taking whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Daryl Worley couldn’t cover A.J. Brown, with the receiver torching the Raiders to the tune of five catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. The pass rush impacting the team’s three-game winning streak has gone quiet, unable to generate much heat and help the secondary out.

Tannehill was near perfect, completing 21-of-27 passes for 391 yards – that’s 14.5 yards per attempt!! – three touchdowns and a 140.4 passer rating.

Grade: F

Special teams

Richard took over returning kickoffs and punts after Trevor Davis got cut earlier this week and the Raiders did just fine. A.J. Cole put four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line. The Raiders generally won the battle for field position, though their offense didn’t always do something with it.

Grade: B

[RELATED: Gruden wasn't mad about Carr's late throwaway]

Overall

The Raiders were shocked to turn in such a terrible second-half performance with so much on the line. They understood this game’s playoff implications. They understand this was a must-win and couldn’t do anything to stop a superior opponent. They kept up for a while but were eventually overwhelmed by Tennessee’s relentless attack. The Raiders are playing some bad football right now. It’s too bad the home crowd had to see it.

Grade: F