Despite being in New Orleans at the height of the Saints' "BountyGate" scandal, Raiders coach Dennis Allen appears to have been spared the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.But that does not mean questions are not still swirling about, what with Allen having been the Saints' secondary coach at the time.As such, Allen was asked on SiriusXM NFL radio this week his feelings on the gathering storm."In general, I feel badly for everybody that's been involved with the whole situation," Allen said. "It's kind of an unfortunate situation. But the commissioner's made it clear that those type of practices are not acceptable and I support his decisions and what he decided to do from a punishment standpoint."Goodell suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton for the season, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who ran the bounty system but is now in St. Louis, indefinitely. The Saints were also fined 500,000 and were stripped of second-round draft picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts."It is very clear," Goodell told the NFL Network. "We have a serious violation of an existing rule that threatens the health and welfare of our players. In addition, this went on for three years and it was investigated. We were misled. There were denials throughout that period."Meanwhile, there continued to be risks to our players and to the integrity of our game. So it calls for a very significant and clear message."Allen insists he heard said messageloud and clear."You can play this game in a physical manner without the intent to injure," he said. "And I think that's really, at the end of the day, what the NFL is trying to accomplish."
Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward injured his foot during the team's offseason program and hasn't seen the field since. Last year's second-round pick had it surgically repaired, and missed training camp rehabiltating.
He's finally ready to go. He passed a physical on Monday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list. The team had a walk-through on Monday. Ward should be active for Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first back at their Alameda practice facility.
The Illinois product had 30 tackles in 13 starts last season, playing significant snaps with Mario Edwards Jr. out due to a hip injury. He'll have to compete for a spot in the rotation, even after working with the first unit during the offseason program. Rookie third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes has played well in his absence and could be a three-down player inside.
Ward was a raw, yet athletic talent capable of playing several techniques across the line. The teams sees great potential, though Ward must continue to develop as a player.
In addition, the Raiders activated tight end Cooper Helfet off the non-football injury list.
OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Rams assigned two blockers to Khalil Mack, a common practice against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sometimes it works. This time it didn’t.
The Raiders edge rusher split the double team, found his target and pounced. Jared Goff stood zero chance. There was no evading this one. Mack brought last year’s No. 1 overall pick down with authority, claiming a sack that ultimately won’t count in his 2017 total.
The sacks highlighted a dominant performance that also included three quarterback pressures, four total tackles and two for a loss. All that in three series.
Mack’s clearly ready for the regular season. As a whole, the Raiders defense is not.
Saturday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum proved that point. A below average offense had no trouble scoring on a starting unit that looks a bit lost.
“I thought our defense was poor, in particular early when we started the game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a postgame press conference. “We’re going to have to get a whole lot better there.”
It has to happen quickly, with the regular season bearing down and the Raiders still trying to correct the same old thing. Making proper reads and improved communication has been an emphasis this offseason as coaches work to get this defense playing better together. It’s still preseason and there’s time to teach and coach and fix problems, but the defense isn't quite right.
“I think we’ll go a long way when we clean some of those things up,” Del Rio said. “The things that we’ve talked about for too long in terms of communication errors, eye violations and things like that that just keep you from ever being really good on defense. Those just have to get cleaned up.”
Issues are present in the front seven but more obvious in the back, where explosive pass plays continue to plague the starting unit. The Raiders allowed two plays over 20 yards on the first series and six plays of 10 or more yards in three series on Saturday, when the full starting unit was active. The Rams scored 14 points – Mack’s sack squashed the lone non-scoring drive – in three series.
Del Rio was bothered by misreads and “eye violations,” in coverage, which make things easier for an opposing offense.
“When you see them, it’s not a good thing,” Del Rio said. “Yeah, I mean it’s really simple. You don’t have your eyes where they belong and you’re playing man? You’re playing man or even in zone. If you’re not seeing what you need to see, it makes it hard.”
Fixing these problems could improve execution and make life harder on opponents. It needs to happen this summer or the Raiders will have to win a lot of shootouts.
“Obviously, I identify what the problem is,” Del Rio said. “Getting it fixed is the challenge.”