ALAMEDA -- As a predominantly power-blocking team last season, the Raiders were the No. 7-ranked rushing team in the NFL, averaging 131.9 yards per game on the ground.Through four games of the 2012 season utilizing the zone-blocking scheme, the Raiders are 32nd in the 32-team NFL -- last -- in averaging 60.8 rushing yards per game.Still think the switch should have been seamless, and that the ZBS is similar to what the Raiders ran last year?"It's very different in the run game," center Stefen Wisniewski told CSNCalifornia.com following the Raiders' final pre-bye week practice on Wednesday. "Yeah, it really is."How, exactly?Wisniewski's eyes rolled and he smiled."Well, I mean, I'd get technical on you," he said with a laugh. "Yeah, it's, I mean, the footwork, the aiming points, just everything is. The whole goal's different -- you're trying to get people to run sideways and make a cut, instead of trying to move people, drive them off the ball. So, the whole broad scheme is different and then all the little details are different, with all the footwork and everything and the combinations."But we're getting more comfortable at them and the more reps we get, we're just going to keep getting better and the more reps the (running) backs get, they're going to keep getting better because it's different for them, too. The reads are all very different."Keep in mind, the Raiders' offensive line is still rounding into form, what with Wisniewski making the transition from left guard to center after missing all on-field work this offseason recovering from shoulder surgery before a calf injury sidelined him in the exhibition season. And Willie Smith is replacing the injured Khalif Barnes at right tackle. Plus, it's not like Oakland can practice the cut-blocking in practice against teammates."It's definitely close and we really feel we're continuing to get better at it," Wisniewski said. "You know, it's not an easy thing to pick up right away. It takes time, it takes practice and it takes game practice, too. It's a different look than practice (when) you can't really cut guys. It's a whole different deal."It's a things that's going to take time and we're definitely moving in the right direction and we're definitely close to where we want to be."And therein lies the frustration."It's tough," Wisniewski said, "and we certainly want to be seeing results right now but coaches have been good and encouraging, encouraging us to be patient, keep working, keep getting better and just trust that it's going to work and we believe it is going to work."
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.
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.”