|09.15.14 at 11:10 am ET|
They are a bit of a mess.
The Raiders are old (they are the oldest team in the league, on average) and slow and lacking depth on both sides of the ball. Their defense cannot get off the field on third down (teams are converting at a rate of 52 percent) and is allowing an average of 200 rushing yards per game. Their offense has yet to score a meaningful touchdown (they have one touchdown outside of fourth-quarter garbage time) and have been outscored by a combined margin of 40-7 over their first two games. In addition, the offense cannot sustain drives (their average time of possession through the first two games is just over 23 minutes, and they are converting on third down at a rate of 24 percent). It’s no surprise they’re one of three 0-2 teams left in the AFC, and no surprise that head coach Dennis Allen is likely coaching for his job over the next few weeks.
“We suck,” Oakland’s veteran safety Charles Woodson said after Sunday’s 30-14 loss to the Texans. “That’s as blunt as I can put it.”
Things don’t figure to get much easier for them this week for a few reasons, including the fact that they’re a West Coast team coming east to play a one o’clock game. That rarely ends well for a visiting team. It’s going to be a long season for the Raiders, who have to travel a league-leading 36,078 miles this year.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is a bit of an unknown who has shown some promise.
While the Raiders are a mess, rookie quarterback Derek Carr is an intriguing prospect who has shown some positive signs over the course of the first two weeks of the season. The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder, taken in the second round out of Fresno State this past spring, supplanted veteran Matt Schaub for the starting role over the course of the summer, and the rookie is 47-for-74 (64 percent) for 414 yards, with three touchdowns and two picks to this point in the season. That includes a relatively respectable 27-for-42 for 263 yards, one touchdown and two picks in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. He did have 58 rushing yards on Sunday against Houston, and has shown an ability as a collegian to take off and make plays happen with his legs when things start to break down.
Despite having a pair of relatively well-known running backs, they don’t get much of anything on the ground.
With 57 rushing yards in two games, Carr is Oakland’s leading rusher. That puts him ahead of veterans Darren McFadden (16 carries, 62 yards, 3.3 YPC, 1 TD) and Maurice Jones-Drew (9 carries, 11 yards). Jones-Drew has struggled with a right hand injury, while it’s tough to try and figure out if the 27-year-old McFadden has just hit his expiration date, or if he needs a chance of scenery. (He hasn’t averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry over the course of a season since 2011.) One intriguing prospect is Latavius Murray, a second-year player out of Central Florida who didn’t play last season (a foot injury landed him on injured reserve) but had 23 carries for 94 yards in the preseason. Murray has flashed positively as a kick returner this season, averaging 24.3 yards per return in seven chances — if Jones-Drew continues to have issues with his hand, Murray could get an opportunity against the Patriots.
Despite having some interesting names on defense, they’ve been a disappointment.
The Raiders went out and picked up a couple of intriguing veterans over the course of the offseason to try and bulk up on defense, including Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, but they’ve been underwhelming to this point in the season. They also utilized their first-round pick on heralded linebacking prospect Khalil Mack, who has 12 tackles and a pass defensed in their first two games from the outside linebacking spot. Mack has looked impressive and disruptive at times, with Oakland coaches saying he had his best week of practice this past week in the days leading up to the Houston game. But for the most part, the defense has been a disappointment (just read the lead to this story and tell me you don’t think Tuck is having regrets), with the low point coming when Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt lined up as a tight end and caught a pass in Houston’s win over Oakland on Sunday.
“Obviously, we don’t have any time to sulk, because we have New England coming up and we’re out there,” Tuck said of the prospect of gong from facing the Texans to the Patriots. “Everyone knows what kind of team they’ve got and how prepared they’ll be. We have to fix this and get it figured out quickly.”
They don’t get flagged for a lot of penalties.
Maybe the one nice thing you could say about them is the fact that they really haven’t gotten flagged for a lot of penalties over the first two games. Not counting calls that have been declined or offset, the Raiders have been hit with nine penalties for 44 yards to this point on the season. By way of comparison, New England has been hit with 24 penalties for 263 yards.
|09.15.14 at 10:25 am ET|
Coming off the Patriots’ first victory of the young season, quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan to discuss the game and address the recent NFL controversies. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The big news in the NFL this past week was the controversies surrounding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, both of whom are out indefinitely due to domestic abuse issues. Brady declined to offer his take on either matter.
“I try to stay in my lane. All of those things, none of it’s really my business or my control,” he said. “I’ve just been focusing on the games and what I can do better. The things that are taking place on other teams or league-wide decisions, those are a different pay grade than me.”
Pressed to offer an opinion, Brady said: “I certainly have a lot of personal feelings toward all those things, but it’s just, there’s nothing I can do. If I make a comment about it, there’s nothing I can do to make a difference. The owners of the league, the commissioner of the league, the teams themselves, the players that are involved, they’re the ones that are speaking on it. It’s not really my responsibility to speak out about those things, because there’s a lot of other people doing the talking.
“I really don’t want to be involved in any of those things. I try to live and make the best decisions possible on and off the field and represent our organization and represent my family as best I can. Those things are happening. I just don’t want my name mentioned in any of those situations that are happening.”
Brady completed 15-of-22 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions Sunday, but he did not appear pleased after the 30-7 victory over the Peterson-less Vikings.
“I wasn’t unhappy. I was very happy we won,” he said. “I thought the defense played awesome. Special teams made some huge plays for us. Offensively I thought in the first half we did some real good, positive things. I just wish our execution overall would be a little bit better. That’s what we’ll work on this week, and we’ll try to make some improvements where we can, then hopefully we just continue to get better as we go.”
|09.15.14 at 9:38 am ET|
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the ongoing Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson sagas. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video was released last week of him punching his then-fiancee in an elevator in Atlantic City in February. Later in the week, Peterson was deactivated by the Vikings because he beat his son with a tree branch. Many have wondered whether Peterson will play in the NFL again.
“It probably depends on what happens in terms of this thing getting played a little bit further,” Hasselbeck said. “Ray Rice‘s situation was just a reaction to public outcry, where this situation it appears to be very disturbing. In some way, I don’t think there’s any gray area in this situation, there seems to be a lot of talk about discipline vs. abuse by some people, which I don’t think is applicable here. But some people seem to be having that conversation, and because of that, there is a shot, depending how this plays out, he end does end up playing somewhere else.”
Continued Hasselbeck: “If it were me, I’d cut [Peterson]. And I know that people that are trying to discuss discipline vs. abuse. … From what I’ve seen I don’t think there’s a question about this stuff. Hitting the kid to the point where you’re breaking skin and he’s bleeding, it makes me sick thinking about it. I don’t what the league is going to do. I tell you what I’d do: I would move on and what be done with it. I think somebody needs to show leadership and do the right thing.”
The hosts wondered if crazy and troubled players from poor upbringings are just part of the everyday life of an NFL locker room.
“I don’t think there’s any question when you’re on a team with 53 guys, and people come from all different types of backgrounds and cultures, that you get a wide range of people,” Hasselbeck said. “I certainly was on teams where I thought, ‘That guy’s just a bad dude, he’s not a good guy.’ Probably every team I was on there was somebody I felt that way about. I can’t say I ever knew about somebody beating up their girlfriend or wife or knew about anybody doing something to one of their kids. But I definitely saw guys that I thought I wouldn’t turn my back one bit because you can’t trust them.
“But with that being said, I know all kinds of players that came from unimaginable backgrounds that turned out to be unbelievable teammates, trustworthy, honest, courageous men, that they were absolutely incredible. … Somebody’s upbringing isn’t always an excuse for behavior as an adult.”
|09.14.14 at 7:07 pm ET|
Bill Belichick’s first coaching win came on Sept. 8, 1991 in Foxboro against the Patriots in a 20-0 shutout in his second game with the Cleveland Browns.
Twenty-three years and six days later, Belichick became just the sixth coach in NFL history to coach his 200th win in the regular season.
Sunday’s win was much like many of his previous 199 over the years. His team gave up an early touchdown, rallied to take control through winning the turnover and special teams battles before cruising to a victory that featured sound fundamentals all around.
When the clock hit 0:00 on Sunday in Minnesota and Belichick walked across the field to congratulate his counterpart Mike Zimmer after a 30-7 Patriots’ win, Belichick improved his all-time regular season record to 200-106. Belichick joins Don Shula (328), George Halas (318), Tom Landry (250), Curly Lambeau (226) and Marty Schottenheimer (200) as coaches to reach the 200-win milestone.
What does it mean to the man wearing his traditional hoodie Sunday?
“It means a lot,” Belichick said. “What it really means is that I’ve coached a lot of good football players. Those are the guys that win the game. Players win games in this league. I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of great players. That’s really about them winning the games. But it’s certainly it’s an honor to have my name thrown in there with some of those guys, I’d say really all of whom, maybe other than Curly, that I looked up to as a kid and admired and maybe borderline worshipped as an NFL coach.
“I certainly never got into coaching expecting that to ever happen so it’s very gratifying to reach that milestone but what it really says is that I’ve had a lot of good players, that’s really what it says.”
Belichick can pass Schottenheimer with a win over the lowly Raiders next week in New England’s home opener at Gillette. But for now, Belichick just wants to savor one more win in the record books.
“Felt good. Every win feels good. It felt good, felt real good. Just proud of the way our team played today. We had a lot of good players. Our team played hard today.”
|09.14.14 at 6:39 pm ET|
Bill Belichick knows both Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice personally. The Patriots coach also loves the NFL and knows how bad of a week it’s been for the league, those two star players and the people affected by their actions.
After his team dispatched the Vikings, 30-7, Sunday in Minnesota, Belichick was asked if there were anything he or the Patriots could do to help the league through its worst week in recent memory.
Often times, Belichick will dismiss the question out of hand. But on Sunday he offered some perspective that showed sensitivity to legal matters at hand with both star players.
“It’s certainly unfortunate,” Belichick said. “I’ve had a lot of personal respect for Adrian and Ray, and the whole situation is really unfortunate for the events of what happened, but we all know that it so it’s an unfortunate situation.
“Well, I think we need to do what we always do, and that’s take care of our job and do our job and try to do it well. And that’s what we’ll focus on and continue to focus on. We really can’t control anything outside of what we do and we just have to do the best we can and leave all those other things to the process and so forth.”
The process with regard to Peterson, who sat out Sunday’s game after being deactivated on Friday by the Vikings, is waiting to see what further action the team and league will take after he turned himself in early Saturday morning and posted $15,000 bond after a charge of child injury was handed down by a Montgomery County, Texas grand jury.
As for Rice, the Ravens back has been suspended indefinitely after the NFL said it wasn’t aware of a video released last week that showed him punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer and knocking her out in a casino elevator in New Jersey.
|09.14.14 at 6:22 pm ET|
When Bill Belichick brought the troops together after the season-opening loss in Miami, he looked directly to the veterans and leaders in his locker room to send a message. Losing two straight to open a season doesn’t happen in New England.
Apparently the captains did their job and got the message across. Certainly, the Patriots coach felt that way after Sunday’s 30-7 rout of the Vikings on the road.
“[That] felt good,” Belichick said. “Every win feels good. It felt good, felt real good. Just proud of the way our team played today. We had a lot of good players. I thought our captains did a real good job this week coming off last week’s disappointing game in Miami. We got great leadership from our veterans and our captains. Our team played hard today.”
Certainly, it didn’t start out well. The Vikings went 80 yards on the game’s opening drive, marching down the field for a touchdown as the Patriots linebackers were caught out of position. But those would be the only points of the game as he, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Patriots veterans made adjustments. Those adjustments produced four interceptions of Matt Cassel and six quarterback sacks, two apiece by Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
“Chandler has played well for us and is a good player,” Belichick said. “Again, anytime you can get that kind of a lead like we did and you saw the reverse of that last week, it becomes a one-dimensional game and those guys can just do their thing, tee off on the quarterback and all that. That’s a defensive lineman’s dream. We were able to capitalize on it and get some pressure on the quarterback. Our ability to make plays, to get ahead to create that situation really had a lot to do with it, too. But he did a good job, got good pass rush from all those guys, Rob, Chandler, Hightower, Easley, Vince, a bunch of guys got to the quarterback.
“The turnovers were huge. Most of those plays were on balls down the field. They got us early in the game on some misdirection plays, a crossing route to Rudolph, a crossing route back to the tight end off the play-action and a cross-boot for a touchdown. We need to do a better job on staying at home, defending our areas, not over-pursuing. We kind of got caught on that in the first drive. They had a good group of plays and were definitely able to execute them well. That was a good drive.”
Offensively, the Patriots ran the ball effectively, taking the pressure of Tom Brady, who was happy with the win but not the execution.
|09.14.14 at 5:09 pm ET|
From the moment Tom Brady took the podium after his first win of the 2014 season, it was apparent he wasn’t in a particularly good mood.
Brady completed 15-of-22 passes for 149 yards and nine-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman in a 30-7 win over the Vikings in Minnesota. His quarterback rating was 102.3, the first time over 100 since last December against the Texans. He didn’t throw an interception and was sacked just once.
Still, Brady seemed upset with the lack of rhythm in the offense, partly reflected in a conversion rate of just 5-for-14 on third down.
“I’m happy we won,” Brady said. “I just wish we’d go out there and play like we’re capable. That’s just the way it is. I’m glad we won, great team win, a lot of guys contributed, a lot of great plays were made. Hopefully, offensively, we can do a better job next week.
“I think we have a lot of work to do. It’s good to win. We’ll get back to work [Monday].”
Brady gave props to the offensive line that did a much better job in pass protection and opened holes for Stevan Ridley to rush for 101 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
“Some great running, great blocking up front,” Brady said. “He always runs really hard. We were really close on some runs to breaking some longer ones but that was really important for us to run the ball like that. We’re going to need that all season.
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