The message is clear: The Raiders need to get out of their own way


The message is clear: The Raiders need to get out of their own way

KANSAS CITY -- Some messages are easier to discern than others.This one was as clear as the crisp, cold day in Middle America.Get out of our way, the Raiders seem to be saying to anyone in their path. Even, and, yes, especially, the guys wearing Silver and Black.No wonder an exhausted Hue Jackson looked more relieved and, yes, somewhat disgusted, than happy when Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning 36-yard field goal split the uprights in overtime.

Sure, the Raiders had survived, 16-13, against the Kansas City Chiefs. But the agony they put themselves through before coming out on top was almost too much for Jackson to bear. Almost."I feel like I want to pass out," Jackson said as he took the podium for his postgame media conference. "I'm serious."Could you blame him?Not only had the Raiders turned away the Chiefs, Oakland also had to deal with, in their opinion, flag-happy referees. But perhaps most draining, they had to overcome themselves.The Raiders had a season high-tying 15 penalties, for 92 yards. They blew a beautifully-executed fake field goal for a 36-yard touchdown run by Brandon Myers when long snapper Jon Condo inexplicably let the play clock expire for a delay-of-game penalty. Then they missed the ensuing field goal. Later, they allowed the Chiefs to drive 80 yards in five plays and 1:53 to tie the game with 62 seconds to play."That's Raider football right now," Jackson said with a sigh. "That's the way it's been."I wish we could win 40-14, I do. We haven't had one of those yet. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is winning, and that's what this is all about."After all, when it came to crunch time, the Raiders settled down."This is not the time to have a penalty," quarterback Carson Palmer barked in the huddle. "If somebody gets a good jump and the snap gets by you, let them go. I'll get out of the way.'"You can't get backed up, especially in overtime."The message got across: Oakland did not have another penalty after Stanford Routt was called for defensive holding with 13:54 to play in regulation.And the message was clear after the Raiders won the coin toss heading into overtime."Oh, O.K.," receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said when he heard the play come into the huddle. "We're going for it."Lined up on the left in a two-receiver set, Heyward-Bey sold a post-pattern before running by free safety Kendrick Lewis down the sideline on a corner route.Palmer lofted a perfectly-placed ball, Heyward-Bey ran under it and had a 53-yard pickup, down to the Chiefs' 23-yard line."That was a hell of a call from Hue," Heyward-Bey said. "That took a lot of guts."Said Palmer: "It was just the right time to call it. I wanted it earlier, but we saved it for the right time."It was also the first play of overtime and was set up by Michael Bush's running on first downs throughout the game."Darrius has been through a lot," Bush said, "dropping balls, catching balls, and he made a big play."Bush then picked up five yards on a pair of carries and out trotted Janikowski for the win."That was Carson at his finest right there, in my opinion," Jackson said of the throw that set up the game-winning field goal. "And that's what he's got to be for this football team, and that's what I expect he will be for this football team. He's just got to keep pushing."And the Raiders have to stay out of their own way.Still, Jackson had an inkling things would be O.K.The rookie coach recounted a story of one of his last conversations with the late Al Davis."The man told me, he said, 'Hue, we will win it in the end,'" Jackson said. "And I believe that. I don't know how it's going to happen, but I know this much, I truly believe in a guy who was my leader, who told me that before he passed (away)."Minutes later, the spent Jackson, his playoff hopes still aloof, left the interview room, walking arm in arm with Raiders CEO Amy Trask.The message, indeed, was clear.

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”