Raiders midseason report: Defense

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Raiders midseason report: Defense

First-half storyline: Coming into the season the loss of All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was the main story line. Buried in there somewhere, though, was the fact that the Raiders returned 10 of 11 starters on defense, giving the unit some much-needed continuity, especially coming off a 47-sack season, which was tied for second-most in the NFL (they only have 18 sacks now).

The same concerns, however, were there, especially when it came to defending the run. And lo and behold, those same problems have crept up again at the midway point, despite an added emphasis on stopping the run and, really, knowing exactly what was coming at them in the form of Tim Tebow. The defense on Sunday against Denver was as bad as it's been since 2003, especially the run defense in giving up 298 yards, the fourth-most surrendered in franchise history.

Eight games in, the Raiders' defense is 29th against the run, giving up 139.6 yards per game on the ground. Losing defensive end Matt Shaughnessy for the season three games in with a shoulder injury did not help.

MVP: Richard Seymour. The 11th-year defensive tackle owns the locker room in his third season in Oakland and leads the Raiders with five sacks. More impressive, perhaps, is how he's transformed the defensive line in his image, especially fellow DT Tommy Kelly. Still, Seymour's intensity sometimes goes awry, as it did when he picked up two personal foul penalties for 30 yards total against New England on the Patriots' opening 80-yard touchdown drive.Biggest surprise: The respect opposing quarterbacks have given Stanford Routt by essentially avoiding his side of the field has been somewhat Asomugha-esque. Then again, with Chris Johnson hurt all year and a pair of rookies in DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa filling in the gap opposite Routt, why would you go after Routt, who has one of the team's seven interceptions.Biggest disappointment: Granted, the bar is set high for Rolando McClain. But it should be. And as such, the second-year middle linebacker is not the game-changing force many saw him as being when the Raiders used the No. 8 overall pick on him in 2010. He has trouble shedding blocks and is easily re-directed and oftentimes takes bad angles on ball carriers. And yet, slowed by an ankle injury since Oct. 9, his absence is most definitely felt, especially in run defense, when he's out of the game. Go figure.Best play: The day after Al Davis passed away, and with only 10 men on the field, Michael Huff stepped in front of Matt Schaub's five-yard pass to Jacoby Jones in the end zone as time expired for the interception to seal the Raiders' emotional 25-20 victory at Houston. Nothing else comes close.Worst play: Hmmm, take your pick from any of Tebow's zone-read option runs against them on Sunday. Tebow galloped for 117 yards against Oakland, though two runs especially stood out as the faked-out duo of Kamerion Wimbley and Jarvis Moss are both still searching for their jock straps.Key to the second half: The same as the previous eight years -- stuffing the run and limiting big-chunk plays. Could recently-released DT Albert Haynesworth be a target and, if signed, be kept in check by Seymour, Kelly and John Henderson?

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has hired former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, the team announced on Monday evening. He will be the team’s assistant head coach on the defensive side of the ball.

Pagano has spent most of his coaching career in San Diego, working with the Chargers in various capacities since 2002. He was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in 2012, where he led that unit for five seasons.

Pagano and Del Rio worked together in 1997, when Pagano was a New Orleans Saints defensive assistant and Del Rio was the assistant strength coach.

Pagano was a longtime linebackers coach before becoming a play caller. He has worked with several quality pass rushers and has proven to be adept at creating pressure.

The Raiders created a position for Pagano, who will help a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed and dead last in sacks. Pagano was looking for a different gig after new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn hired Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator. 

Ken Norton Jr. remains defensive coordinator, but Pagano will bring experience and creativity to the game-planning process.

He has worked within a 3-4 defensive scheme, but has experience in all formations. The Raiders run multiple defensive fronts.

Pagano is the assistant coach on defense, while offensive line coach Mike Tice has a similar title on the offensive side. The Raiders have a vacancy on the staff, and are looking for a new defensive backs coach.

John Pagano is the younger brother of Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano.

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Last week was a sports business headline grabber in the Bay Area. On Tuesday the Golden State Warriors went all Cirque Du Soleil for a groundbreaking ceremony for Chase Center in Mission Bay. Then, the Oakland Raiders filed their relocation papers on Thursday, making a pair of gut punches for Oakland sports fans.

It’s time to separate the fact from fiction and examie what comes next...

FACT

- The Warriors will be playing in the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season.

- The Raiders officially filed relocation papers on Thursday, Jan. 19 with the NFL for permission to relocate to Las Vegas.

- The Raiders have raised season ticket prices across the board for the 2017 season in Oakland.

- Nevada has $750 million dollars in public money approved for the construction of a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.

- If the relocation is approved, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders would become the largest taxpayer-subsidized stadium deal in NFL history, more than the $600 million in public money used to build the Atlanta Falcons’ $1.5 billion stadium and $500 million the public is picking up for U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings.

- Sand’s Casino Chairman Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million dollars of his own money to help build the Las Vegas stadium. Negotiations with Mark Davis on the details of his investment are ongoing. The Raiders have a deal with global investment bank Goldman Sachs to assist in financing the Las Vegas stadium deal.

- The Raiders plan to be playing in their new Las Vegas stadium by the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders have lease options to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. 

- The cost of the Raiders' one-year lease extensions at the Oakland Coliseum is in the area of $3 million a year.

- Oakland and Alameda County still owe a large chunk of the $95 million dollars of debt for the Oakland Coliseum retrofit that brought the Raiders back from Los Angeles.

- NFL owners will next meet in Arizona from March 26 to 29. A vote on the Raiders relocation may take place at that time, or it may be postponed. Davis needs 24 "yes" votes to approve a relocation.

- Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $550 million dollars to the NFL to relocate from St. Louis to Inglewood.

- The San Diego Chargers will be moving to the new shared stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019. In the interim they will play in the StubHub Center in Carson. It will be the smallest capacity stadium in the NFL at 27,000 seats.

- Relocation fees for the Raiders and Chargers have not been publicly released.

- The A's continue to review sites in the Oakland area for the building of a new ballpark.

- The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum is the only location in North America that has a MLB and NFL team playing in the same facility.
       
- Las Vegas will have its first NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, skating next season in the new T-Mobile arena in Paradise. 

FICTION

- The Raiders' request for a relocation vote has been officially added to the NFL owners meetings scheduled in Arizona from March 26-29. 

- The exact location of the Las Vegas domed stadium has been selected.

- Mark Davis has $500 million dollars to put into the Las Vegas stadium deal. 

- Las Vegas is a stronger economic market than Oakland.

- The Raiders have a lease to play in Sam Boyd Stadium, home of UNLV football. 

- The Raiders have announced they will be selling seat licenses for their Las Vegas stadium.

- The Raiders are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a football-only facility.

- The A’s are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a baseball-only stadium.

- The A’s will move quickly on announcing new stadium plans based on the four-year minimization of MLB revenue sharing money, which begins this season.

- The A’s have selected Howard Terminal as the site of their new ballpark.

- Mark Davis has an interest in selling a major stake in the Raiders to Sheldon Adelson or any other interested billionaire to help him build a new stadium in the Bay Area or Las Vegas.

WHO KNOWS?

- What will happen with the Ronnie Lott/Fortress investment group that is negotiating with Oakland and Alameda County? 

They have no agreement of any kind with the Raiders to play in their proposed $1.25-billion, 55,000-seat stadium.

Three previous third-party investor-backed deals to finance and construct new sports venues in Oakland have failed. Floyd Kephart, Forest City and Colony Capital all struck out.

- What will the NFL charge the Raiders for relocation to Las Vegas and where will that money come from? 

The NFL is a proponent of two teams playing in one stadium in major metro areas, as we have seen work with the Jets and Giants at Met Life and with the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood.

The Raiders have adamantly opposed sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

- What legal or business actions will the Oakland authorities pursue against the Raiders and NFL if the team receives approval for a Las Vegas move? 

- Will the Warriors and Raiders pay back tens of millions owed the city and county for the improvements of the Coliseum and Oracle.

- How will the A's use the incredible leverage they will have if they wait until the Warriors and Raiders leave town?

Former A’s partner Lew Wolff said that the A’s won’t require a penny of public money to build a new stadium. Wolff is now out and A’s owner John Fisher could easily change that position.

PLACE YOUR BETS 
 
Oakland has been dealt a bad hand and it doesn’t look like it will get any help from the house. But I do not believe the Raiders will receive relocation approval at the NFL owners meeting in March.

Remember, the momentum was behind the Raiders and Chargers to get a "yes" vote on their proposed move to Carson in January of 2016. Owners instead voted 30-2 to approve the Rams' move to Inglewood. 

If the Raiders do get approval, the A’s and Major League Baseball could have a big surprise for Oakland. As the last team/league standing, they could ask for hundreds of millions in public money to support stadium construction. They could ask for control of all the land around the Coliseum at pennies on the dollar. They could threaten to move to another city with MLB approval.

This sports saga reads like War and Peace, but it's light on the peace and we're only getting started...