Davis powerless to stop developing mudslide


Davis powerless to stop developing mudslide

Mark Davis takes full responsibility for the Raiders advancing regression. He also apologizes to the fans for whats happened, and feels as bad as they do.

And the Raiders are still going to have to do extraordinary work between now and seasons end to be better than 4-12. Feel better anyway?

Davis emerged from a postgame meeting inside Dennis Allens office, where he, the coach and general manager Reggie McKenzie shared their level of torqued-off-i-tude after watching the employees lay inert for a 38-17 beating by the New Orleans Saints. They looked lifeless, overmatched, confused and generally . . . well, generally Raiderrific.

But its the third straight week in which theyve looked that way. Since beating the horrific Jacksonvilles and Kansas Citys, they have given up a laughable 135 points, 56 in the third quarter alone when all the vaunted coaching adjustments are supposed to be distributed and put into action.

And after the usual nonsensical platitudes from Allen about all I know is how to work, and we have to keep grinding and working to get better, the message from the Coliseum was that this was a team that had either seen the future and vomited all over it, was outmatched, or just plain decided to mail in the holiday season.

Thus, when Davis came out of the postgame grouse-a-thon, a starved media corps surrounded him. Most of the players had left or decided not to speak, probably at the behest of the brain trust. Nothing good could be said, so they didnt say it. Lots of more work and continue to try to improve and other empty phrases that clearly mean nothing, given the results.

And Davis, who does not have his fathers gift for scaring people away with a single snarl, a single profanity, or a single bodyguard, decided to interpose his body between the outside world and the beleaguered employees. He sensed, or we suspect he had thrust upon him the sense, that someone had to say something about this developing mudslide.

So he did. Maybe it helped. For a bit, anyway.

As Ive said before, I didnt think we had a Super Bowl team, but you cant blame this on the new front office or the salary cap, he said, rejecting the obvious alibi offerings. You have coaches and you have players, and you have to play. We have to be Raiders.

But it clearly wont be done by Allen, or McKenzie for that matter certainly not in the middle of the slop-storm. And the players who might, most notably Tommy Kelly, are battening down their larynxes.

Not that they are required to do so, mind you. But the audience is already starting to hate the new cast because the team is considerably worse than the last few. Darren McFadden is hurt for the every-yearth-in-a-row time, the passing game is more shambolic every week to the point where the fans are now reflexively booing Carson Palmer, the receivers are clearly worse, and the defense which was momentarily tolerable has now returned to its spider-hole near the earths crust.

In short, the roster is broken, the new coaches havent gotten through to it, injuries seem to be a growing fallback position, and in general this team looks like its ready to take that dive, and start over in 2013.

Now everyone at once, in the key of L: Happy Holidays . . .

Rebuilding? I dont know what the word would be, Davis said when asked what he expected from this team. I know that we didnt have the talent, at the beginning of the year, to be a Super Bowl team. I thought that we had definitely potential to get maybe in the playoffs and beat in our division. Obviously that hasnt happened. Im not happy. But nobody in this room is.

And when he was asked if there was a way to save the season, he chose not to be Johnny Happy Face.

(Were going to) take it game by game, but uh, I dont know. I know theyre gonna fight.

Its just the results of the game. You win or lose. We havent been winning and it hasnt been close the last 3 weeks. I couldnt put (his frustration level) on a 1-to-10. Im not happy, Ill put it that way, but why should I be? Why should we be? Why should anyone in this room be? But theyll fight and fix it.

Or . . .

Like I say, Im patient. Im patient. But I want to see progress. I dont want to see regression. Nobody does. And thats why Im unhappy today. But as far as a pass, I wouldnt call it a pass. Theyve got contracts, theyre gonna be here.

Then he shared the news that hed had back surgery five months earlier to remove a cyst (or a tumor, he wasnt sure which), and in describing it, he really articulated the state of his team in ways that fan apologies and devotion to work ethic and being a Raider never really could.

I had a sciatic nerve problem, a pain in my ass, he said. And I had surgery five months ago, and it didnt fix it. And then so they took pictures again, they found a big cyst-tumor, right on the sciatic nerve. So Im feeling a lot better. Its not totally healed yet, (but) January 1 I can start working out (patting his stomach). The triplets go away then. I deliver. But again, its a sad day today, the last three weeks have been sad, but were gonna fight. Thats what it is. And well see what happens.

If only his other and more chronic gluteal issue was as easy to repair.

Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'to satisfy a need'

Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'to satisfy a need'

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders needed cornerback help and got some by drafting Gareon Conley 24th overall. General manager Reggie McKenzie insists he didn’t select solely to fill a need.

“This was totally the draft board,” he said Thursday night. “I mean, it was hands down the best player left on our board.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio chipped away at that stance a bit, clearly happy to get a good player in an area where he can help right away.

“A lot of us guys say that this time of year though, don’t we?” Del Rio said with a laugh. “Definitely was a happy moment for us.”

Conley was a top 15 talent, with stock driving south by a sexual assault allegation made public this week that is being investigated by Cleveland. He has not been charged or arrested in regard to the April 9 incident.

The Raiders are confident he’ll be cleared, leaving them with an excellent value that could provide long-term production in the secondary.

Cornerback wasn’t the only Raiders need. They’re in desperate need of an inside linebacker – they passed on Alabama’s Reuben Foster – and could used depth at defensive tackle and safety.

McKenzie says he’ll continue to follow his draft board over reaching for a specific position. The Raiders were happy to acquire Conley, and hope more value comes their way.

“Well, hopefully there’s Day 2 that will fall the same way,” McKenzie said. “We’re going to still follow our board. We know our needs, but, we will not let, we feel, a great player slip by just to satisfy a need. We will follow our board, that’s for sure. There are a lot of good players, so we’re expecting a good day tomorrow.”

Matching need and value is the ultimate goal. If that occurs, expect a defensive slant to the rest of this draft. They need early impact players and depth at every level of their defense. They might consider an offensive tackle, with uncertainty at right tackle and Donald Penn unsure if he’ll play beyond the 2017 season. It seems unlikely the Raiders go for a running back unless it’s late, after acquiring Marshawn Lynch this week.

There’s plenty of talent heading into the second round. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is the best inside linebacker on the board, with Florida’s Alex Anzalone and LSU’s Kendall Beckwith behind him. Malik McDowell and Caleb Wormley and are intriguing defensive line options. Cam Robinson is considered the best offensive tackle left on the board, though he's likely gone before the Raiders pick.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”