A method to this McFadden Madness?


A method to this McFadden Madness?

OAKLAND -- Any questions about Darren McFadden's health were answered Monday night.More questions, though, about the sanity of returning Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's use of the injury-prone McFadden are sure to surface in the wake of Oakland's 22-14 loss to San Diego in both team's season opener.REWIND: Instant replay -- Chargers 22, Raiders 14
Consider: McFadden had 28 touches, including a franchise-record-for-a-running-back 13 receptions, for 86 yards. He also carried the ball 15 times for 32 yards. He was also targeted five other times, meaning he was involved in 33 of the Raiders' 64 offensive plays."We just go with the offense," McFadden said. "However the offense is called, that's how we roll. You never know what to expect when you're going into a football game -- whether you're going to get it this many times or however -- you just roll with the flow of the game."The only other time McFadden had more touches in an NFL game was on Sept. 19, 2010, when he had 30 rushes for 145 yards and two catches for eight yards.So in case you were wondering what the Raiders offense would look like sans playmakers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, and with quarterback Carson Palmer losing trust, at least for a moment, in Rod Streater, this was it.Not particularly imaginative. But it was somewhat effective, in moving the chains, even if it again stalled in the red zone.With eight receptions in the first half, McFadden had already set a personal record for catches in a game. And by the time he was finished, the only other Raiders player with more catches in a game was Tim Brown, who caught 14 balls against Jacksonville in 1997.And before you get all huffy about quarterback Carson Palmer being Captain Checkdown, ala Jason Campbell, there was a method to all of this McFadden madness."They were staying in base defense and we liked our matchups with our running backs underneath," Palmer said. "And also, we have beaten them in the past over the top and they were just getting a ton of depth. They were not going to give up big plays."Their corners pressed the line of scrimmage a lot and (were) just turning and running for the hillsand (with) the linebackers underneath, the safeties stayed pretty deep and gave us some underneath throws and Darren did a great job when he had the ball."McFadden has missed at least three games in each of his first three games due to injury, and missed the final nine games last season with a Lis Franc sprain of his right foot.But as coach Dennis Allen said in the preseason, McFadden is the Raiders' bell cow."He's an explosive playmaker for us, so we're going to use it," Allen said. "But we'll go back and we'll look at the tape and we'll see if there are some things where maybe we can utilize some other people. It's football, we're going to use him."As long as it works, and he stays healthy.

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio have done three pre-draft press conferences now. They’ve got the routine down, knowing when to deflect questions, when to put people off the scent and, more importantly, how to seem unpredictable.

They were in lockstep again Friday, less than a week before the 2017 NFL Draft.

During their first, McKenzie offered one criticism of his head coach.

“Can you guys get Jack out of my office?” McKenzie said in 2015, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The rhetorical question was answered with a laugh. McKenzie was acknowledging how much Del Rio and staff wanted to support the scouting process. McKenzie ultimately pulls the trigger on draft day, but Del Rio has a loud voice in the room as he looks for players who fit his locker room and his schemes.

McKenzie has open ears, taking advice from the entire coaching staff while arranging his draft board. This time of year especially, coaches and scouts are working together.

“It’s been unified since Day 1,” Del Rio said. “Reggie and I are very unified and much on the same mission and that is to bring a world championship home to this organization. Everything we’re doing is attacking that, adding these impact players where we can.”

The pair was focused on improving a lackluster roster that featured Derek Carr and Khalil Mack but finished 3-13 the year before. Now their partnership is entering Phase II.

They must decide which players to add, and decide which previously drafted players to keep. There are some obvious extensions in the works, with Carr, Mack and Gabe Jackson. They had to let some homegrown talent go in free agency as they attempt to upgrade depth and build a championship roster that can build on last year’s success.

“There’s a whole different phase that we’re about to go through as an organization as you begin to mature, some of those players have to be re-signed or not. Those are decisions you have to make in all of this. This is year three for us working together and I feel like the relationship with the scouts and the coaches and the sharing of information is excellent. We want to continue to work that way.”

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft


Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.