Raiders announce Tarver as D-coordinator


Raiders announce Tarver as D-coordinator

Jason Tarver has a Bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. He was a Phi Betta Kappa at Santa Clara and twice received the departmental prize for distinguished teaching at UCLA.Impressive classroom work, no doubt. But does Tarver have the antidote to what ails the Raiders' defense on the field?New Raiders coach Dennis Allen certainly thinks so. Or at least hopes so.

The 37-year-old Tarver was officially named the Raiders' new defensive coordinator on Monday after spending last season at Stanford as the Cardinal's co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach and the previous nine years with the 49ers.Many will see the Tarver hiring of such a relatively inexperienced coach into the role of a coordinator as a stretch, but Allen is a defensive-minded coach and Oakland was reportedly rebuffed in attempts to interview seasoned NFL assistants, among them Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith and New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson.Plus, former 49ers and San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was hired by Indianapolis after reportedly interviewing with the Raiders and Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas, a mentor of Allen's, decided to stay with the Chiefs.Others linked to the opening included Green Bay cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. and 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatel.It all came back to Tarver, though, who did not call the defensive plays for Stanford, which played predominantly a 3-4 defense. That job went to co-defensive coordinator Derek Mason.Still, the Cardinal ranked third nationally in rush defense (84.4 yards per game), sixth in third-down conversion defense (31.0 percent) and 11th in sacks per game (3.0).The Raiders' defense fell flat late in the season and had franchise worsts in total yards allowed (6,201), passing yards (4,262), yards-per-carry (5.1) and TD passes (31) while the 433 points allowed were third-worst in franchise history.And the Raiders joined Tampa Bay as just the third and fourth teams in league history to allow at least 30 TD passes and 5.0 yards per carry.Perhaps Tarver-as-D.C. will serve as a facilitator, while Allen will be the play-caller?Allen said he does not believe a head coach can be effective being a head coach if he is calling plays, so that duty figures to fall to Tarver, who has never called plays before.With the 49ers, Tarver was as a quality control coach from 2001 through 2003, was an assistant running backs and offensive assistant coach in 2004 and coached the outside linebackers from 2005 through 2010.He has been credited with the development of Parys Haralson, who had a career-high eight sacks in 2008. And in 2009, the 49ers OLBs combined for 17.5 sacks, 15 takeaways and nine forced fumbles.Tarver is a Northern California native who played at Saratoga's West Valley Junior College in 1994 and 1995.Since the 2011 season ended on Jan. 1 with a loss to San Diego, the Raiders have hired a general manager (Reggie McKenzie), fired a head coach (Hue Jackson), and hired a head coach (Dennis Allen) and a slew of assistants in an offensive coordinator (Greg Knaap), defensive coordinator (Tarver), special teams coordinator (Steve Hoffman), offensive line (Frank Pollack), strength and conditioning (Al Miller) and assistant strength and conditioning (John Grieco) and retained two assistants in running backs coach (Kelly Skipper) and assistant offensive line coach (Steve Wisniewski).

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders defense gave up 344 yards Sunday while beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sum’s a season low, still way too many for Malcolm Smith. The Raiders weakside linebacker has higher standards, even after one of two solid defensive efforts in seven games.

“That’s still a lot of yards,” Smith said. “We’re not where we want to be.”

Just because Sunday was better doesn’t mean it’s good enough. The Raiders defense ranks last in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring defense at 25.6 points per game.

There’s a main reason why the Raiders aren’t dead last in both categories. Takeaways.

The Raiders have plundered the opposition this season 13 times in seven games. Special teams got one Sunday on a muffed punt, but the defense has been incredibly active stealing possession.

Reggie Nelson has a nose for the ball, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sean Smith and David Amerson have two picks each and Bruce Irvin leads the league with four forced fumbles.

Turnovers make all those yards allowed easy to stomach, and has kept the Raiders in several close games. The force big mistakes and don’t make many, proven with a plus-eight turnover ratio ranked No. 3 overall.

“It’s given us a chance to win some games, where you could just look at other statistics and say we wouldn’t have a chance.” Smith said. “That’s what the game is about, and us finding ways to compete. Hopefully we stay after it that way.”

The Raiders have stayed after it in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on just 50 percent of opponent trips inside their 20-yard line.

While big plays have brought wins and positivity to the defense, the season’s first half has been difficult for Raiders expecting more.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smith said. “You come into the year with all these aspirations and things you want to do. When it doesn’t go your way you have to stay after it, keep putting the work in and know it’s not going to be wasted. Hopefully we’re making strides and those improvements will show on Sundays.”

The Raiders believe the defense is close to being good, and has done a solid job masking issues with takeaways and timely production.

“Our team has done a great job of competing to win games,” Smith said. “If we keep doing that, everything will be fine.”

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders were certainly happy they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars into submission. They jumped out to a strong halftime lead, played smart complimentary football and, at 33-16, ended up with a large margin of victory.

All, however, was not right with the world.

Derek Carr lamented settling for too many field goals. Latavius Murray wanted more efficiency from his runs. Defensive players saw progress in several deficient areas, still seeking greater cohesion and consistency.

[BAIR: Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars]

Sunday’s big victory over lowly Jacksonville was not a sign they've arrived. It was proof these Raiders remain a work in progress.

Records normally suffer with much to correct. These Raiders are 5-2, and feel better football’s ahead.

“That’s what is great about this team is that we haven’t played our best yet,” Murray said. “That’s a good feeling moving forward, knowing there are things you can get better at and you’re still 5-2.”

Winning while fixing things; that’s a coach’s dream. It’s also easier when players know it, that egos don’t expand and confidence doesn’t become arrogance.

“I like that part. I like the fact that we recognize it,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy.

“You should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it, but to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year. That’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch and have survived several games on guts, guile and turnovers -- a recipe for success with inconsistent production.

The Raiders defense believes it made strides in the Jaguars win, though there’s significant work remaining to be a decent defense. With the offense rolling, that’s all the Raiders need to be a top team. Defenders aren’t striving for decent. They want more, and believe that realizing potential could put them in position for a playoff push.

“This team has so much talent, with good coaches and good players,” cornerback David Amerson said. “The sky’s the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out there and beat teams 30-0. Once we get to that point, that’s when we can look towards the playoffs and things like that. We have just as much talent as any team in the league.”