Season review -- Raiders LBs


Season review -- Raiders LBs

Having been totally rebuilt in 2010, the Raiders linebackers corps promised to be a strength in 2011. It was anything but. The second line of defense, coached by Greg Biekert and assisted by Ricky Hunley, was burned early and often. So much so that Biekert is purportedly on his way out of Oakland. Was it scheme? Desire? Talent? Injuries that hurt the group's depth? In a word, yes. Expect a new look in 2012.
Grade: FLINEBACKERSAaron Curry -- Acquired on a Thursday from Seattle for a seventh-round draft pick, Curry started at weakside linebacker for the Raiders three days later, supplanting Quentin Groves while bringing more energy and activity to the position than seen in years. But while the word on him that he lacked something in coverage skills was proven, Curry did seem reborn in Oakland. And yet, there was the occasional over-the-top moment, such as the poorly-timed 15-yard penalty, like the flag he received for boxing up the goalpost after returning a fumble six yards for a touchdown against Detroit that portended the Lions' comeback. Still, Curry did not have a sack for the Raiders but his 46 tackles ranked eighth on the team, despite his not joining the team until Week 6.RELATED: Aaron Curry 2011 game logs
Rolando McClain -- Oh boy, where to start? The No. 8 pick of the 2010 draft entered camp seemingly a changed player, saying he did not like the way he played as a rookie. And yet, many of the same issues arose -- unable to shed blocks, easily re-directed, taking bad angles. No, McClain is not (yet?) the game-changing MLB the Raiders envisioned when they took him out of Alabama in the mold of Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis. But those guys play inside in 3-4 alignments, same as McClain in college. Still, it was painfully obvious when he was not on the field. And his arrest in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., for allegedly firing a gun next to a man's head, cast a pall over the organization, especially his grinning-like-a-fiend picture as he was put into a police car. The Raiders lost four of five after the arrest, even as no disciplinary actions were taken against McClain by the Raiders. And yet, though it all, McClain wracked up the stats, going for 99 tackles (he had 85 as a rookie) with five sacks (he had 12 of one in '10). And get this -- he averaged 8.4 tackles per game and had three sacks and a safety after his arrest.RELATED: Rolando McClain 2011 game logs
Kamerion Wimbley -- After leading the Raiders in sacks with nine in 2010, Wimbley was due to get a bump in pay from 685,000 to almost 4.2 million thanks to a 3.5 million "buyback option." But the deal was found in violation of the league's "30-percent rule," so the Raiders used the franchise tag on him, guaranteeing him 11.3 million. But in an effort to create cap space, his deal was re-worked to a five-year, 48-million contract, with 29 million guaranteed. So Wimbley went from 685,000 to 29 million in a few months time. Did the strongside linebacker's play reflect the jump in paychecks? You be the judge. His tackles rose from 57 to 62, but his sacks fell from nine to seven. And four of those sacks came in one game, at San Diego, when Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeil was knocked out of the game by Curry.RELATED: Kamerion Wimbley 2011 game logs
Quentin Groves -- Despite being part of Oakland's rebuilding of their linebackers in 2010, Groves never seemed to have the complete faith of the coaching staff. It came to fruition after five games, when he was replaced by Curry. Still, Groves did not sulk. Rather, he became a high-energy standout on special teams and finished the season with 24 tackles. A looming free agent, even he admitted the day after the season finale that he had probably played his final game with the Raiders.RELATED: Quentin Groves 2011 game logs
Darryl Blackstock -- The UFL refugee had a history with defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, made the team coming out of camp and became the backup middle linebacker after Ricky Brown was lost for the season following Week 3. Blackstock appeared in all 16 games and had 20 tackles. But he struggled mightily in his one start, in place of the injured McClain, against Denver and Tim Tebow.RELATED: Darryl Blackstock 2011 game logs
Ricky Brown -- Signed late in camp after being released by New England, Brown was familiar with the Raiders having been in Oakland the previous five seasons. But the backup MLB suffered a concussion in Week 3 and was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve a week later.Travis Goethel -- The oft-injured sixth-round pick of the 2010 draft was being groomed to replace Groves on the weakside but blew out a knee early in camp and was placed on IR on Aug. 30. He was working out at the end of the season with trainers. Might he join McClain on the inside of a new 3-4 defensive alignment in Oakland next season should the Raiders decide to implement a new base defense?

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

The Oakland Raiders have officially filed for relocation to Las Vegas. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has responded. 

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation," Schaaf said in a statement. "Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be.

“Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy. 

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will -- a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

Now that the fate of the Raiders' relocation is in the hands of the NFL owners, a vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

The Office of the Mayor Libby Schaaf and Scott Bair contributed to this report.


McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged being named the NFL’s executive of the year was a big deal. It’s the highest individual honor bestowed on a personnel man.

Not in McKenzie’s eyes. His name’s on the plaque, but the general manger considers it a team honor. It takes a village to raise a roster, something McKenzie knows after working through the ranks.

“The acknowledgement, to me, is for the organization, from the top down,” McKenzie said. “From the patience and the vision together with me and (owner Mark Davis) on through the work, the daily work of the coaches and players and to play on Sunday. That’s what the acknowledgement is really all about.

“You see the entire organization working together to win. That’s what I see. It’s an accomplishment from the standpoint that we’re winning now. That’s what I feel good about. That’s why this award is special. It’s a team award, but it’s special to me that this thing is resulting into wins.”

The Raiders went 12-4 in 2016 and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. That postseason experience was not positive. The Raiders got waxed in Houston, completing a brutal two-loss stretch where an AFC West title was lost and the season formally ended.

The downward spiral started in Week 16, after quarterback Derek Carr broke his fibula. Backup Matt McGloin played poorly and then hurt his shoulder the next game, which forced the Raiders to start rookie Connor Cook against Houston.

A loss seemed likely – Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn was also sidelined – but that didn’t make it easier for McKenzie to handle.

“Well, I’m still getting over it, (likely) until I win my next game,” McKenzie said. “It’s tough anytime you lose your last game. It’s going to eat at you and that’s one thing about being a player, being associated in this, it’s the drive for the next game. What can I do to help us win that next game? And that’s the hope we have now, is the opportunity to play again, you know? Albeit, in ’17, but that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to set the course for this ’17 season. So, it’s going to eat at you until then.”

It’s that drive that pushed McKenzie during difficult times, when talent piled up but didn’t translate to wins. Seeing the fruits of that labor is incredibly gratifying for McKenzie and staff. This award is part of that – to the victor go the spoils – though the end goal remains out of reach and will until the Raiders win a Super Bowl.

“Nobody likes losing, so I get that. If you really believe in what you’re doing and you’re supported, the hope is to start to win games, and to get to the playoffs is a step,” McKenzie said. “We feel good about that, but we’re only scratching the surface. We still want to hold up the trophy. That’s what we’re going to continue to strive to do. That’s our next step. We need to win playoff games.”