Marshall's tenure with Raiders appears to be over


Marshall's tenure with Raiders appears to be over


While theRaiders are neither confirming nor denying a report that has defensivecoordinator John Marshall not being retained, it appears as though histwo-year tenure in Oakland is at an end.Assistant coach contracts come to an end this coming week and the onlytwo on staff with contracts extending into the 2011 season arepurported head coach-in-waiting Hue Jackson and defensive line coachMike Waufle.The evaluation process has been going on the past two weeks, saidRaiders senior executive John Herrera. And those discussions have beenbetween the Raiders and the coaches so we have no comment on that. Butif somebody wanted to go public with their own situationMarshall, 65, came to Oakland from Seattle in 2009 and the Raidersdefense improved from 27th overall in 2008 (388 points surrendered) to26th in 2009 (379 points) to 11th this past season (371 points).The pass defense was No. 2 overall in 2010 and the Raiders 47 sackswere the second-most in the NFL. But the rush defense was horrid attimes, ranking No. 29 overall and surrendering big plays time and again.Oakland gave up at least 31 points on six different occasions, including four times after the Week 10 bye.Perhaps most galling for owner Al Davis, however, was the package inJacksonville that had five safeties on the field with Michael Huff insingle coverage on receiver Jason Hill. With high-priced Pro Bowlcornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and his gimpy right ankle on the sidelines,Hill ran right by Huff and hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass fromDavid Garrard that ignited the Jaguars eventual 38-31 come-from-behindwin.Marshall just completed his 31st season as an NFL assistant, havingalso spent time as a defensive coordinator in Atlanta, San Francisco,Carolina and Seattle.I think when you play defense, if youre too cautious, then youre notplaying defense, Marshall said the week after the Raiders dispiriting33-17 loss to Miami. So you play, and you rely on the players makingplays.You play every game with the same demeanor, the same attitude, thesame rock in your shoe, the same being (peeved) off at the offense andyou do the very, very best you can. If you measure an opponent, youregoing to lose. You dont measure your opponents.You practice and you play to a certain standard, and we do that to the silver and black standard every snap.Apparently, not any more. At least, not for Marshall.Former Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who spent the past twoseasons in Cleveland, has been rumored as a potential replacement forMarshall. His Oakland defense in 2006 ranked No. 1 in the NFL againstthe pass, No. 25 against the run. His Browns defense this past seasonwas No. 22 overall.Perhaps Marshalls finest moment as the Raiders defensive coordinatorcame in 2009 against Philadelphia when he out-schemed the Eagles byblitzing with aplomb and sacking Donovan McNabb six times in Oaklands13-9 upset victory. Word at the time, though, was Davis was not pleasedat all with the amount of gimmicky blitzing. Even if it worked.Ryan likes to blitz a lot, too, and actually ran a 3-4 alignment in Cleveland, as opposed to Davis preferred 4-3.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.


Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.