Injuries, lack of speedy playmakers the problem for Raiders

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Injuries, lack of speedy playmakers the problem for Raiders

MIAMI -- Are you buying what the Raiders are selling when they say Rolando McClain's legal escapades this week did not distract them against Miami?Even after the Dolphins thoroughly embarrassed the Raiders, 34-14, in a game that wasn't even that close?"No," huffed coach Hue Jackson. "That has nothing to do with getting beat like we just got beat."Added free safety Michael Huff: "No, this is football. Once we line up between the white lines, all the distractions are gone. It's man on man and they just outplayed us today."And this from Raiders defensive tacklepoet laureate Tommy Kelly: "That didn't have nothing to do with it. Whatever happened with Ro, it didn't have nothing to do with what went on out there today. Everybody knew what it was, so it wasn't no distraction. He probably got himself in trouble, and it's something he is going to have to handle, and something he is going to have to clean up, but that didn't have nothing to do with what happened today."Thing is, I believe them. Whole heartedly.In this corner, the Raiders falling to a lousy 6-25 on the East Coast since December of 2002 had more to do with their injuries finally catching up to them than any off-the-field shenanigans provided by their middle linebacker.Or, who was not on the field for Oakland, rather than who was on the field.Explosive offensive playmakers Darren McFadden (who has not played since Oct. 23), Jacoby Ford (Nov. 10) and Denarius Moore (Nov. 20) and even rookie speedster Taiwan Jones (also Nov. 20) all being inactive for the second straight game was simply too much to overcome.Against Chicago last week, the Raiders slugged it out and prevailed.Against a nastier, more physical Dolphins defense? Not so much.The Raiders could not establish their running game. Simple as that. And by the time they started making any noise offensively, it was already 34-0."We got behind and got away from the run," said Michael Bush, who was held to 18 yards on 10 carries. "We just got our butts kicked today."Earlier this week, I questioned whether Bush was starting to wear down from his increased workload in the absence of McFadden. Now, I wonder if it's actually the offensive line that's hit a wall.For the second week in a row, Oakland's grunts up front have had it handed to them."We just got killed," offered rookie left guard Stefen Wisniewski."Our offense is only going to work when we run the ball. We're a run-first team and last couple of weeks haven't been running it like we should have been, and that's why we're not performing at our highest."See, both lines getting dominated has nothing to do with McClain's arrest and the wake of negative attention."They didn't show us anything we weren't ready for; they just beat us," Wisniewski said. "They were more physical than we were."And getting bullied by the Dolphins for the second year in a row -- Miami allowed the Raiders only 46 yards on the ground on 14 carries Sunday after giving up just 16 yards on 12 carries in a 33-17 Miami on Nov. 28, 2010 -- might be a more damning indictment than being distracted."Umm, I'm going to choose my words carefully," said usually verbose safety Mike Mitchell. "Miami played very well. They played very physically. We didn't play very well, and we, I don't know if we matched their physicality in the run game."That's an extremely tough pill to swallow because we had done so good stopping the run for three weeks and we came out here knowing what they were going to do. Today really feels like an ass-whupping more than a loss, because they didn't run anything we didn't know they were going to run. I think we just more got beat physically than tricked, so to speak."The Raiders' playmakers bring more than speed; they also bring trick plays that supplement Oakland's mauling style. At least when it works.Sunday, nothing worked for the Raiders.And as far as McClain was concerned, he had a game-high eight tackles, despite missing several snaps due to missed practice time this week, and not because of any punitive measures.Distraction? McClain was approached by a veteran teammate in the hours after he met the team in South Florida."I done got a DUI and you don't want that," Kelly said. "I told Ro that himself, 'You don't want that type of attention on yourself. You don't want people to remember you as that. You get a label in this league, it's hard to wipe it off.'"I told him, 'Dog, that ain't you. I work with you everyday and I know that ain't you. You're not that guy. You made a mistake, learn from it. That's the big thing.' As long as he learns from it, he'll be alright."Are you buying it?

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

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Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning might prompt a spending spree

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on him.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year contract extension Friday morning that will pay him $25 million in 2017 and $125 million over the life of the deal.

That’s a lot of scratch. Could’ve been more.

Carr received life-changing money. He didn’t want to handcuff the Raiders front office in the process.

“I just wanted to be a Raider,” Carr said Friday in a press conference. “It’s more than just a team to me. It’s family. The way it went down, it was easy. Both sides wanted it to get done, and it was about family members figuring out to get along. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign other guys who are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not to just take every single dime that we could”

That list is long but it starts with homegrown talents Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack. Jackson is up next, and could get locked up before the regular season starts. The Raiders have some time on Mack – his contract doesn’t expire until after 2018 – and Amari Cooper should be a keeper on down the road.

“The bottom line is we’re able to continue to move forward with it, keep all the players that we need to keep in the correct timing,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “This affords us to do that. We’re going to start on that ASAP.”

Carr got the deal he wanted. The 26-year old found market value and upped the ante for NFL quarterbacks a smidge while deferring some cash payouts – his big-time bonuses are broken up over two years -- to create windows of financial flexibility to sign other players. Carr’s percentage of the salary cap should decrease over time and won’t become an insurmountable burden to his employers. His deal won’t prevent the Raiders from keeping Jackson, Mack, Amari Cooper in time, or other vital veterans in house.

With Carr locked up, the McKenzie can work deals and the timing of them around his centerpiece.

Carr understands the NFL business and his role in the market, but he wants to maintain a competitive window as best he can and understands other guys will draw huge paychecks in the near future.

He’s scheduled to draw the NFL’s largest sum next season. A record $25 million is headed his way, though that total will decrease a bit in time and will certainly he surpassed by Matthew Stafford and possibly Kirk Cousins in the near future.

“I don’t care if they all do. We got our contract done, that’s all that matters to me,” Carr said. “The other thing that was important to me is that we didn’t worry about what other people were going to do or doing. I just wanted to get mine done and make sure that the team had, again like we talked about, flexibility to make sure my friends stay around.”

Carr was intimately involved in the negotiation process. Both sides said it was easy, wrapped up well before Carr’s training-camp contract deadline. Common ground was found in short shrift once talks warmed up – preliminary talks started months ago -- and a deal was ironed out that produced smiles on both sides once the deal was formally done.

Even after taking a relatively soft-line stance on dollars and the timing of payments – Carr could’ve been difficult all year and eventually forced a franchise tag – he’s still the league’s highest-paid player. His salary will now be compared with his stats. He was a second-round draft steal before. Now he’s a big-money player. In short, expectations will rise.

Carr insists it won’t add pressure to next year’s proceedings.

“You could give me a dollar, you could give me $25 million, it doesn’t matter,” Carr said. “To me, my No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything that I have to this organization. There’s no pressure. There’s no we’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn (Lynch), I’ll throw it. None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats. That’s not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”