Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win

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Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win

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It took one play for the Oakland Raiders to be doomed Denarius Moore to slip on a route and Carson Palmer to hit Pittsburghs Ryan Clark directly in the chest. At that moment, the Coliseum audience, and the nation as a whole, knew this was one more Raider game about to be inflicted upon a weary nation.Four hours later, Dennis Allen walked out of his office, a suit, a tie, and a perceptible smile leading him into a happier night. A night that frankly he and the New Boys needed very very badly.We felt like we were the only ones who really believed we could win, Palmer said later, basking in his own way in the glow of Oaklands 34-31 win over Pittsburgh. We felt like wed already been written off.And he was right. They had been. And based on all the available evidence from all the placed where evidence can be gathered, they should have been. They are the Raiders, and no good comes of that.Except that they are members of the National Football League, where the difference between yes and no, right and wrong, mirth and misery becomes increasingly narrow. They beat the Steelers because the Steelers arent the Steelers of old, true, but they beat the Steelers because they are just learning how not to be the Raiders of old, either.They fought off two 10-point deficits in the second half. They scored each of the last five times they had the ball. They kept a purportedly superior team from scoring for the entire fourth quarter. They committed only three penalties, their lowest number in 30 games, and none of them game-changing. And they overcame the temptation to lose heart and focus after Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field with what provide to be a concussion.Not only that, Palmer, their overly maligned quarterback, showed himself in the best possible light, especially once the Raiders went to a no-huddle offense. Darren McFadden validated the much loathed zone blocking scheme by breaking out a 64-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball. The defense forced two second-half fumbles to stop the Steelers seemingly relentless momentum.And in the end, Dennis Allen won the right to stand up in front of his team and say, straight-faced and with facts to back it up, Trust us, guys. We know what were doing.Say what you will, but that matters. This is a franchise that has known only coaching chaos since Jon Gruden left more than a decade ago, and front office shambles through the last decade of Al Davis stewardship. Players, fans, media and just plain disinterested observers had come to believe the worst in this team, and this team had rarely disabused them of the notion.And lets be frank, the woods have not yet revealed the spacious green lawns behind them yet. This was one game, played well by a team that started so skittishly. This was not the proof of the brand new day.But it was, and this is just as important for the moment, the first time the AllenReggie McKenzie regime could say that the job was not too big for them, that they know what they want and have a firm idea of how to get it.Palmer being the master of his huddle was a start. McFadden breaking out was a start. A team that didnt give in to Heyward-Beys loss or the circumstances surrounding it (a helmet-to-helmet blow from Ryan Mundy that wasnt flagged). A team that kept its composure and a grasp of the rules that neither the Steelers nor the officiating crew could approached, let alone match.It was all a start. There will have to be more, obviously, and a league with three unbeaten teams and two winless teams means that there is much more chaos to come.But these Raiders are no longer going in blind. They have something more than faith, hope, or wishful thinking, to speed them on their way to work Monday. Thats what Sunday meant. Its not the beginning of the end, or even the end of the beginning, to steal from Winston Churchill. But its a light bulb that may lead eventually to the end of a very long, damp, dark and cold tunnel.

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.

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

ALAMEDA – The Raiders visited with former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon at the team’s Alameda facility on March 21.

General manager Reggie McKenzie came away impressed by the controversial figure notorious for punching a female in 2014 while at Oklahoma, who has spent significant portions of the pre-NFL draft process trying to show that violent incident caught on video doesn't define him.

“We thought he was a really good kid. He came off very well and explained each and everything, the questions that we had,” McKenzie said Friday in a pre-draft press conference. “He had an explanation and he was up front about everything. The kid really came across as a good kid.”

Mixon is also a premiere talent going pro, but there’s no telling how far his off-field issues will drop him in next week’s NFL draft. There’s debate where he’ll be taken, though many expect Mixon to go in the first two rounds.

He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine due to an incident where he punched victim Amelia Molitor and fractured several bones in her face. Mixon has made several pre-draft visits and meet with dozens at Oklahoma’s pro day trying to explain his actions and why he’s a safe pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement on Friday announcing the settlement of a civil suit, with both parties hoping to move on from an ugly incident after which the victim spoke out about being harassed.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end,” Molitor said in a statement. “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives. From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”

The running back is obviously a polarizing public figure, and the team that drafts him could take flak for selecting him.

“When stuff like this happens, whether it’s domestic violence or drunken driving, whatever issue that comes up, we’ll be prepared to answer questions,” McKenzie said. “We’ll do our research and if we make a decision, we’re going to prepare to have answers for each and every decision that we make.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis has taken a hardline stance against players involved in domestic violence incidents – this was technically assault of a man on a woman, as Mixon and Molitor were not in a relationship -- and he would have to okay a Mixon selection. The Raiders put considerable thought and research into select players with character concerns.

“What we do, we research everything. We get all of the information. We will not make a decision until all the information is in front of us,” McKenzie said. “With certain issues, like domestic violence, we consider that and we really look into everything that is surrounding that. Every decision will be well-researched so if it’s one way or the other, we are going to make it where that decision is based on all the facts, all the research and on the kid moving forward. But yes, we hold that very dear to what we do, as far as who we bring in, absolutely. We will not tolerate that at all.”