The third edition of the Oakland Raiders Weekly Roundup. Here, we’ll pull together any notable Silver and Black news from the previous week and put it together all in one place.
Welcome back to the Oakland Raiders Roundup, where we take all things regarding the Raiders from the previous week and wrap it up in a neat little package. This week is Super Bowl week, and while most of the focus is on the Patriots and the Eagles, there is still plenty to talk about regarding the Silver and Black.
Derek Carr Looks Like His Usual Self
As outlined in many articles and opinions, Derek Carr struggled mightily in 2017. So when he was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl, there were understandably some doubters and plenty of criticism of the selection.
So in the wake of this criticism, Carr came out and put on a show in the Pro Bowl skills competition. He won the precision passing drill with a record-setting score, and he was also a Jarvis Landry diving catch away from helping the free agent receiver win the best hands competition.
Carr had himself some impressive moments in the skills competition. He also broke a little-known World Record:
— TSD NFL (@TSD__NFL) January 26, 2018
But Carr saved his best for efforts for the game itself.
It’s important to note that the Pro Bowl means little in the way of actual football. It’s pretty much a glorified game of two-hand touch, with the occasional tackle or football play thrown in. But a quarterback throwing the ball is a quarterback throwing the ball, and Carr had a problem doing that in 2017. However, he put to rest any questions about the health of his back or his mental state with a prototypical Carr performance.
After coming in the game, Carr orchestrated a touchdown drive to get the AFC back in the game. But then on their next possession, he threw an interception to Patrick Peterson. That didn’t deter him, though. It was in crunch time — where Carr made his bones in 2016 — that he really stood out.
Trailing 23-17 late in the fourth quarter, Carr completed a key 4th down pass to Landry to keep the drive alive. The difference for each player in winning and losing is a $32,000 loss on the game check, so there were plenty of people pulling for Carr.
“That’s as real as it gets in football. You always want to win, especially with money on the line,” Carr said after the game, via the Associated Press.
After the Landry conversion, Carr slung a perfect precision pass to Delanie Walker for Walker’s second touchdown of the game — good enough for offensive MVP honors — with 1:13 left in the game to steal away the victory.
Though it was the Pro Bowl, it was great to see Carr back to his usual self. He was having fun, goofing around, and slinging the ball without a care — or hindrance — in the world. He sure did look happy:
AFC scores with a minute left for the lead!
Derek Carr is so dang happy pic.twitter.com/SL1Oz8kH2U
— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 28, 2018
And that’s the Carr all of Raider Nation wants to see.
This is NOT what Raider Nation wanted to see, though…
The Chiefs Trade Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a Raiders nemesis. He’s 10-2 against the Raiders since joining the Chiefs, so you’d think it’d be nice to see him leave the division. Plus, he’s going to the NFC so the Raiders will rarely if ever see him. Bonus.
Well, not when Patrick Mahomes is waiting in the wings — and the Chiefs get an extra-third round pick as well as a top-tier slot corner entering his prime. Damn. What was Washington thinking, honestly?
Washington’s decision to not give Kirk Cousins a long-term deal essentially cost them a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller, along with a downgrade in big plays while acquiring a much older quarterback at roughly the same cost. Smart maneuvering. It’s not always clear immediately who the winners and losers of a trade are – but with this one, there are immediate and residual effects. All of which negatively impact the Raiders, because the Chiefs got younger, better and saved a ton of cap space in the process.
Mahomes is no sure thing, but he sure is talented. He showed some chops in the preseason and has all the tools to succeed in Andy Reid’s offense. Cousins is a proven commodity, a player who can put up big numbers and make big plays and who has cut down on mistakes and turnovers.
There is also a potential snowball effect from Kirk Cousins being out in Washington. Because guess where he just may end up? That’s right, in Denver. Which would make the Raiders climbing their way to AFC West supremacy that much tougher.
With Philip Rivers still in Los Angeles, the AFC West could have one of the toughest stables of QBs in the NFL in 2018. Great get for the Chiefs — a potential domino effect for the rest of the AFC West. Just like…
Potential Free Agent Signings
With Cousins possibly coming to Denver, a team that was a QB away from challenging in 2017, this coming to fruition would not be ideal for the Raiders. It could also entice free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders to stay in Denver, as Kirk would be the first decent QB Denver has fielded since Peyton Manning retired. Raiders fans have been speculating that Sanders could land in Oakland should he leave the Broncos.
If Cousins goes to Denver, and it’s early in free agency, his presence could also entice others who would then perceive the Broncos as a contender. Alex Smith to Washington really has a lot of potential branches here.
Some exciting — albeit preliminary and unfounded — news surrounding the Raiders and free agency this offseason involves some big names. Le’Veon Bell is being talked about quite a bit, as is Jarvis Landry. Peter King, on how he thinks the Le’Veon situation will shake out:
I’d guess he becomes a free agent and goes to highest bidder. Watch for Oakland. https://t.co/aGwXrtTISj
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) January 23, 2018
Bell will be expensive and this is a deep draft for running backs, so it may not make a lot of sense to pay top-dollar for him. Still, if the option to get the best back in the business presents itself, it must be considered. Especially knowing what Jon Gruden could do with a back like Bell in his offense.
With Landry, he and Carr enjoyed each other’s company and chemistry at the Pro Bowl, and Landry has hands that would help a Raiders team team plagued by drops for the entirety of Carr’s tenure thus far. Landry would also command quite a bit of money, but if the Raiders cut Michael Crabtree, they’ll need a replacement and will have some money freed up. So it’s certainly a possibility.
Another player the Raiders should consider is DeMario Davis, if the Jets let him walk. He’s young, he’s quick, he’s aggressive, and in the right scheme he’s versatile. He can play the run sideline-to-sideline, rush the passer, and is decent in coverage. Should be interesting between free agency and…
The 2018 NFL Draft – Mock Drafts
It’s that time of year, and mock drafts are out in full effect. The majority I’ve seen have either mocked DL Vita Vea or LB Roquan Smith to the Raiders. Both would be excellent selections. Smith seems to be the most popular choice at the moment.
Most mock drafts only give you the first round, but Only1Nation’s very own Marcus Chai has given us the full goods:
My first 7-round mock of the year. Assuming 4 comp picks in the 6th.
Hard to do this before free agency because needs will surely change after that, so I am picking based on needs today. pic.twitter.com/I2Gz0v4KEq
— Marcus Chai (@OaklandScout) January 31, 2018
As he mentions, it’s hard to determine before free agency, but clearly this mock draft would fill several needs and add some much-needed talent.
Regardless, it appears most mock drafts have the Raiders going heavy on defense in the early rounds. This makes sense as the defense needs more help and depth. One player the Raiders may have to replace — speculation is everywhere as to whether he will return — is Bruce Irvin. Irvin is a big part of the Raiders and the community, and he remembers where he comes from. That’s why…
Bruce Irvin Honors Ken Norton Jr.
Regardless of how you feel about Ken Norton Jr. and his defense under the Raiders, he made a big impression on Bruce Irvin. The linebacker was quick to share this at the Coaching Corp Game Changer awards, where he told his former position coach and defensive coordinator:
“I look at you not only as a coach but as a friend, as a father, as an uncle, as a step dad — as everything,” he told Norton in a moving tribute. “I just thank God for bringing us together. This is forever, man. I love you.”
Speaking of coaches, even though the Raiders aren’t in the Super Bowl, their new/old coach is still a hot topic of conversation. Patriots coach Bill Belichick had some nice things to say about Jon Gruden in an interview on media day. In fact, many in the media and the game have…
Praise For Jon Gruden
In speaking about Gruden at the Super Bowl, Belichick alluded to his being away for a time and the potential difficulty in re-adjusting. He didn’t see it as an issue:
Some close to Jon Gruden anticipate his greatest adjustment as Raiders HC will be operating under 2011 CBA restrictions for practice/training. Bill Belichick: “Jon’s a smart guy. I’m sure he’ll figure it out.”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 30, 2018
Cris Collinsworth also praised Gruden’s intelligence, and spoke about how his time in the broadcast booth will be a tremendous advantage in coaching. One recurring theme in criticizing the Gruden hire — aside from the money — is how long he’s been away and his potential to be out of touch. Hearing him speak, and hearing others speak about him, it doesn’t appear that will be a problem.
Well that’s it for another week. Carr looks great, Pro Bowl or not. The Chiefs made a savvy deal that helps their future. The Broncos are eyeing the now free Kirk Cousins. But Chucky is back in Oakland. The AFC West may not be in the Super Bowl, but they continue to dominate the news cycle.