Bucs use 17 big plays to embarrass Raiders


Bucs use 17 big plays to embarrass Raiders


OAKLAND -- In the smoky wreckage of the Raiders 42-32 loss to Doug Martin and various other Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Dennis Allen kept going on and on and on about execution, as though he was considering it as a midweek drill.His problem in that case, though, would have been in amassing sufficient ammunition. When a team loses like this, the blame is thick, wide, and applies easily.Mostly, though, Allens specialty, the defensive side of the ball, is the reason the Raiders got chased out of their own building Sunday. Tactically, strategically, technically and chronically, Oaklands defenders did little to earn the name.And while the offense had its issues (Carson Palmers three interceptions, two born of sheer Palmerian impatience), and is going to have more if the news on the ankles of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson is bad, the Raiders shamed themselves Sunday because of atrocious tackling and pursuit, which remain two of the most important things a defense can do.We didnt tackle well, is how Allen put it. Weve done a good job of tackling but today was not a good day.Then again, watching your garage burn down is not a good day, too.Martins 251 rushing yards and four scores were plenty in and of themselves, and it was only Tampa coach Greg Schianos conservatism down the stretch that kept those numbers from being more jaw-dropping.I kind of stumbled on a few early, and my coach was like, Get your head up, get your head up, Martin said. So I started to pick my head up after I was stumbling. What follows the head is the body, so I just kept going and I was on to the third level.The fourth level, of course, being Oakland International Airport.But the more elemental truth is this: Of the 63 offensive plays the Buccaneers ran Sunday, 17 went for 10 or more yards. Thats 27 percent of their plays from scrimmage. How they only ended up with 515 total yards based on that number alone is stunning.And not all 17 of those plays were Martins doing, which means this was not a matter of one man beating 11, as much as fantasy blokes might paint it as such. From the games first play, when Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman scrambled into wide open prairie for 11 yards, the Raiders gave up huge hunks of yardage to a multiplicity of Buccaneers. Martin for 12.
Freeman to former Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig for 11.
Freeman to wide receiver Vincent Jackson for 64, minus 15 for Jacksons taunting of Tyvon Branch.
Martin for 13.
Freeman to Jackson for 20 and the first touchdown.
Freeman for 11.
Freeman to tight end Dallas Clark for 10.
Freeman to Williams for 22.
Freeman to Clark for 12.
Martin for 10.
Freeman to running back D.J. Ware for 12.
Martin for 45 and the second touchdown.
Freeman to wide receiver Mike Williams for 37.
Martin for 67 and the fourth touchdown.
Martin for 70 and the fifth touchdown.
Freeman to tight end Nate Byham for 10.Thats 437 of the 515 yards, an average of 25.7 yards PER PLAY. Next to that, Palmers performance, which probably infuriated more people than it should have given the fact that the Raiders played most of the game without McFadden and half the fourth quarter without Goodson, was downright incandescent.Now you may be comfortable with the idea that this was just one of those days, but they play Baltimore (Ray Rice) next, and before seasons end still must face Cincinnati (BenJarvus Green-Ellis), Cleveland (Trent Richardson), Denver (Willis McGahee), Carolina (Cam Newton) and San Diego (Ryan Mathews). They all rank 22nd or higher (Martin was 11th), and theyve all had or nearly had 100 yards in a game.In short, there may be other days that approach this one not 251 yards worth, but enough to make an impression on a team whose latest impression is Doug Martins foot on their faces.And therein lies the true and enduring problem. The Raiders changed a lot of things over the off-season, and they manically emphasized defending the run. As a result, they ranked in or near the top 10 in total yards, yards per carry, and various lesser run numbers. After Sunday, they went from a thoroughly acceptable 3.9 yards per rush to 4.7, which would now place them 29th.In one day.In other words, this is still a work in progress, and slower progress than one would think. Many changes remain to be made before this ocean liner completes its U-turn, and Sunday was a 40-piece brass bands proof of that.And yes, execution still sounds like a pretty good idea. No matter how you define it.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker wanted to go early, but slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”