The second edition of the Oakland Raiders Weekly Roundup. Here, we’ll pull together any notable Silver and Black news from the previous week and wrap it all up in a neat little package.
Hey folks, and welcome back to the Oakland Raiders weekly roundup. This is the second installment of our weekly series. In the first, we reviewed and rolled up all the news from the end of the season through last Friday (January 19). That first installment was something else, with the hiring of Gruden and everything that came with that.
Though the team didn’t coax a Raiders legend out of retirement or fire anyone this week, this is the Raiders. There are plenty of news and things of note to discuss. So, let’s round it all up, shall we? Let’s start with…
The Return of the XFL
For anyone tired of anthem protests, politics and non-football issues invading football, Vince McMahon has the answer! Doesn’t he always?
This time, his answer is to re-ignite the once proud XFL. Only this time there will be no “kneeling and no criminals!” Seriously, this is what he’s using as his main marketing tools. Oh, also faster play.
So Vince envisions the second iteration of the NFL’s offseason slurry as:
An eight team league, with a ten game season followed by playoffs. Each team will have a 40-man roster, meaning another 320 football players will be gainfully employed in 2020 (and beyond is yet to be determined).
Unlike the few rules, ultra-violent and sexualized original version of the XFL, McMahon now promises a more “family friendly” environment, with simplified rules that would make games around two hours in total.
Some of these ideas sound fantastic. The idea of simplifying the rules — such as what the hell is a catch anyway? — would appease a lot of football fans. McMahon has emphasized that standing for the anthem will be mandatory and politics will have little or no place on or off the XFL field.
With NFL ratings down and some disillusioned by the state of the league — particularly after a rough 2017 in which it blackballed Colin Kaepernick and has legitimate questions over the integrity of the game — McMahon has picked a better time than last to try this experiment. It also sounds like he’s trying to fill in the gaps or address the complaints that current NFL fans have with the league and their teams — which is a perfect opportunity to put an XFL team in Oakland in 2020.
Jack Del Rio is gonna coach the inevitable Oakland XFL team.
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) January 25, 2018
Fill in the gaps for a starved fan base that just lost their squad to Vegas? Could work. Then again, it could not. One thing is for sure — if Vince wants the new XFL to get any traction, he has to bring back this guy:
If the XFL is coming back, I demand He Hate Me be involved somehow. I know he’s in his 40s but idc. pic.twitter.com/exKhfZpYQi
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) January 25, 2018
The Pro Bowl
Back in December, four Raiders were named to the Pro Bowl roster. Khalil Mack and the left side of the o-line (Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn) got a return trip. Six other Raiders were also named alternates. They were Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Cordarrelle Patterson, Gabe Jackson, NaVorro Bowman and Marquette King.
Well, fast-forward to Pro Bowl week and there’s some news both good and bad coming out of Orlando. All good for these guys though:
These guys. pic.twitter.com/tSrnwCx1D4
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) January 26, 2018
But Mack, after nursing a knee injury all season, has opted out of this year’s game. He will not participate. Little information is available on the specifics at the moment. It’s encouraging that little has been said about this and Mack has quietly opted out of the game, meaning it’s likely maintenance rather than anything significant.
Penn, who injured his foot against Dallas in December, also will not be playing. Penn’s rehab is progressing nicely but only a month removed from a serious foot injury, he isn’t risking any unnecessary activity at his age. Time to start a new iron-man streak.
Carr, on the other hand, will be playing as an alternate, replacing Tom Brady. Carr’s third consecutive Pro Bowl was met with mixed reactions, many of which questioned the merit of the selection:
Why tf is Derek Carr in the Pro Bowl. @NFL
— Justin Hardwick (@Justinbiggler78) January 22, 2018
Derek Carr had a pro bowl season ? YEAH in 2016-17, not 2017-18. Love him, but he was very disappointing. One reason why Del Rio isn't a HC anymore !
— Bob Matthews (@BMatt55) January 22, 2018
Derek Carr is likely to play in the Pro Bowl this year, as he was a second alternate and it looks like two AFC QBs will back out (Rivers, Brady). If Carr being a Pro Bowl QB doesn’t undercut the already meaningless game to a point of outright comedy, I don’t know what will.
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) January 21, 2018
Calling Carr’s selection to the Pro Bowl roster (as a second alternate, by the way) comedy is a bit much, but he certainly didn’t have his best year in 2017. Some are talking about Carr’s back being an issue in 2017. It clearly was. They are also saying he should sit out the Pro Bowl. However, all indications are that it’s no longer bothering him.
The Pro Bowl is definitely diluted compared to years past and Carr’s performance in 2017, by stats or eye test, do not merit an All-Star selection. But…
The naysayers and his 2017 struggles are apparently not bothering him as he’s been putting on quite the show in Orlando:
That's your quarterback, #RaiderNation.
A new record in the Precision Passing challenge and good enough to win it for the AFC. pic.twitter.com/xXNv4MFHqM
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) January 26, 2018
And his personality and talent have been winning the respect of the best in the business.
So it’s likely that, based on his career thus far and his overall body of work that 2017 was an anomaly and Carr is closer to the 2016 MVP-caliber player than the shadow-puppet from 2017.
But don’t take my word for it. This is the best receiver in the game talking about Carr:
“He’s special man,” said Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. “It’s been an honor catching the ball from him. I’ve got a couple from him already, but tell him I need the ball more (laughter). I mean he’s a great young quarterback, young champion, and [has] all the fundamentals to be one of the greatest.”
Whether a contest of diluted talent or not, Carr has belonged in years past and despite his struggles in 2017 is currently on fire in Orlando. He’s also making a good impression on some enticing free agents:
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) January 26, 2018
For what it’s worth the players practice Friday and Saturday, and the actual game itself is Sunday, January 28 at 3:00 PM EST.
As for former Raiders Pro Bowlers, one in particular had some fun during Adam Schefter’s podcast…
The Return of Jerry Rice?
No, he surely is not — at least not to the NFL or the Raiders. But could he? He certainly thinks so, as he told Schefter:
The 55-year-old Jerry Rice on this week’s “The Adam Schefter Podcast”: pic.twitter.com/DSqMHIAcUO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 24, 2018
Rice’s work ethic and insane conditioning are legendary, so the reaction wasn’t as skeptical as you’d think:
The goat Jerry Rice is making a comeback this is the most interesting news i’ve heard in recent years
— kev (@subtlekev) January 26, 2018
And then of course, if Jerry can do it, so can Herschel…
— The_Transformation_Coach (@Fit4LifeCoach) January 25, 2018
Perhaps read his last line, folks. He’s not coming back, but there’s no question he’s in shape. With the state of the Raiders defensive backfield right now, he’d likely look good in practice at least…
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) January 24, 2018
Rather than dwell on retired players likely to never lace them up again, let’s look into a recent rumour that’s gaining some traction. Whether you believe it’s for the right reasons or not, the Raiders have recently been tied to…
Interest in Colin Kaepernick?
In many eyes this would be a polarizing signing. I personally am in the camp that Kap can still play and from a pure football perspective should be employed. But as politics and marketing play a major role in perception and cache, teams have understandably shied away from him. NFL teams are nothing if not risk-averse – when it comes to politics anyway.
The Raiders have needed their backup QB in important spots the past two seasons. It hasn’t been pretty. Former cult hero Matt McGloin was who we thought he was, and was quickly gone. Connor Cook botched his debut in the playoffs in 2016 – but has in his favour that Gruden loved him out of Michigan State two years ago. EJ Manuel still isn’t good enough to be trusted by his coaches. As Derek Carr goes so go the Raiders in his short tenure and when he’s been out or not 100% the Raiders have badly faltered.
Putting aside anything but football, Kaepernick performed at a fairly high level the last time he was on the field. He had his legs and put up a 90.7 passer rating with 16 TDs and only 4 INTs in 2016. While he’s never been the most accurate passer, he gives teams a different dimension with his scrambling ability. Gruden got the best years of his career from a mobile Rich Gannon – it’s intriguing to think what Gruden’s bootlegs and disguises could accomplish with Kap running them.
Who knows if the rumours are true, but they’re definitely out there and not just idle chatter:
— Rickey Smiley (@RickeySmiley) January 23, 2018
There is speculation that if this happens, it’s not for the best of reasons:
Here is the interesting part. I’m told the league office told the Raiders (paraphrasing): we looked out for you on the Rooney rule, now help us by signing Kaepernick, and helping to end the collusion case. 4/
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 23, 2018
Of course, not all believe that:
Lol wow. Everyone here is now dumber for having read this thread. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul
— Raiding Arizona (@earlyblazer) January 24, 2018
Anyway, stay tuned for what should be an interesting saga regardless of how it plays out. Everything Kaepernick is, regardless of your opinion, interesting in some way these days. And he is a good football player.
Now that we’ve addressed the potential backup quarterback rumours, let’s turn our attention to some future prospects. Let’s look at the…
Senior Bowl and Shrine Game
As you may know, the Senior Bowl is also taking place this week. Tune in to NFL Network at any given time and you can get a glimpse of these seniors going through drills and trying to make a final impression on NFL personnel folks.
One such player that has made an impression and is suddenly on everyone’s radar is DE Marcus Davenport of the University of Texas-San Antonio. A stand-up rusher and linebacker in college, scouts were there on Tuesday to watch Davenport in Texas. Per his usual routine, Gruden is back in the Bay Area letting his scouts and personnel folk do their jobs.
The Raiders met with Davenport on Tuesday for a quick interview. The young prospect is projected as a possible top-15 selection, though he’s struggled somewhat against higher-level and more fundamentally sound competition this week.
Another intriguing player for his pedigree (brother Shaquil plays for the Seahawks) and his story (he has only one hand) is Shaquem Griffin. But he’s more intriguing for his football IQ and productivity than anything. Raiders definitely have some interest here, and on top of his on-field talent and versatility, Griffin is a respected locker-room leader and voice:
Shaquem Griffin was 7 when told “football is for two-handed players.” At Senior Bowl, he’s met with teams like Raiders, practiced at DE, LB and S, and built case for combine invite. Niners GM John Lynch: “I think he’s earned it.” https://t.co/YuYEEaTVl6 pic.twitter.com/WScq78Lygf
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 25, 2018
A couple other players the Raiders may have on their radar, at positions of need, are RB Rashaad Penny from San Diego State and WR Darren Carrington. And rumor has it they are taking a hard look at some DBs as well.
Not much news coming out of the East-West Shrine game, though apparently the Raiders did interview a corner there last week. Only 1 Nation Staff Writer Marcus Chai (@oaklandscout) has a great rundown here:
Just finished watching the @Shrine_Game game. Some thoughts:
– None of the QBs impressed
– Late add Ray Lawry was most impressive RB
– WR Daurice Fountain has juice, I'd like to see him at @seniorbowl
– Brian Allen backed up strong week of practice w/solid game
— Marcus Chai (@OaklandScout) January 21, 2018
Some intriguing prospects, but nobody that truly jumped out aside from WR DaeSean Hamilton:
Highlighted by our very own @OakRaiders_GM in his East-West Shrine game article.
— Only 1 Nation (@Only1Nation_) January 21, 2018
Reggie McKenzie is again doing work trying to mine the depths for talent. All the while, life rolls on in Oakland. It’s time for some…
A few things are happening this week. Bay Area fan group “We Stand With Oakland” have rallied again to attempt to keep the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas. And they may have some legal backup as well. So while it’s unlikely that anything tangible will happen regarding the Raiders move, Raymond Bobbitt and his group are exploring options that may have more legs now that the lawsuit filed by the people of St. Louis regarding the Rams move to LA has been given merit and is proceeding.
While unlikely to keep the team in Oakland, recent legal movements have made this situation a little more fluid and interesting than it previously was. Something that makes it even more interesting is the news that came out of Las Vegas on Thursday:
— Rick Velotta (@RickVelotta) January 25, 2018
This doesn’t mean much more than a delay in the proceedings, but it’s interesting to note nonetheless as movement continues in Oakland to keep the Raiders. Stay tuned on this one.
All of this while Oakland and the East Bay folks celebrate their love of having Gruden back in the fold. Iconic Raiders hangout and staple @rickysportsbar have been waiting for this a long time.
As in saving Coach his spot for fifteen years now:
I remember looking at this parking spot for years every time I came home to visit and stopped by @rickysportsbar. Now I’m back home for good…and so is Gruden. Things just have a way of working out. Chucky’s Back!!🤘🏽🤘🏽#FullCircle #RaiderNation #Raiders #JustWinBaby pic.twitter.com/qOE6aOSc65
— Gabriela Sasparilla (@hecameca) January 7, 2018
Brilliant. Raiders loyalty — you just can’t beat it.
Not only are fans and local businesses alike excited to have Gruden on board, but his new players are stoked. Pro Bowl lineman Rodney Hudson and Kelechi Osemele raved about Gruden during Pro Bowl interviews.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Osemele said of Gruden at Pro Bowl practice in Orlando, Florida, this week. “I think that’s what we need right now. That’s the biggest change — the energy. I think it’s going to be high intensity. I think it’s going to be really detail-oriented, from what I’ve heard. That’s just the vibe I’m getting. It’s going to be very, very detail-oriented, and I think it’s going to be good for us.”
And Hudson agrees that Gruden just exudes energy and panache:
Hudson said he only recently spoke with Gruden for the first time, and echoed Osemele’s thoughts. “You could feel his energy,” Hudson said. “It’s not even so much [what he was] saying, but you can feel his energy. Everybody’ll be ready to get back. We’re going to enjoy the offseason and get back and be ready to work.”
Good times in Oakland right now, and the feel-good vibe should remain at least until important free agency and draft decisions begin to be made. For a little more information and a different perspective check out David Carr’s interview on Wednesday with Damon Bruce on 95.7 The Game where he discussed aspects of the Raiders season. Check it out here.
That’s about it for this week folks, make sure to come back here each and every week for a comprehensive roundup of all things Silver and Black.