Raiders midseason report: Defense

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Raiders midseason report: Defense

First-half storyline: Coming into the season the loss of All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was the main story line. Buried in there somewhere, though, was the fact that the Raiders returned 10 of 11 starters on defense, giving the unit some much-needed continuity, especially coming off a 47-sack season, which was tied for second-most in the NFL (they only have 18 sacks now).

The same concerns, however, were there, especially when it came to defending the run. And lo and behold, those same problems have crept up again at the midway point, despite an added emphasis on stopping the run and, really, knowing exactly what was coming at them in the form of Tim Tebow. The defense on Sunday against Denver was as bad as it's been since 2003, especially the run defense in giving up 298 yards, the fourth-most surrendered in franchise history.

Eight games in, the Raiders' defense is 29th against the run, giving up 139.6 yards per game on the ground. Losing defensive end Matt Shaughnessy for the season three games in with a shoulder injury did not help.

MVP: Richard Seymour. The 11th-year defensive tackle owns the locker room in his third season in Oakland and leads the Raiders with five sacks. More impressive, perhaps, is how he's transformed the defensive line in his image, especially fellow DT Tommy Kelly. Still, Seymour's intensity sometimes goes awry, as it did when he picked up two personal foul penalties for 30 yards total against New England on the Patriots' opening 80-yard touchdown drive.Biggest surprise: The respect opposing quarterbacks have given Stanford Routt by essentially avoiding his side of the field has been somewhat Asomugha-esque. Then again, with Chris Johnson hurt all year and a pair of rookies in DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa filling in the gap opposite Routt, why would you go after Routt, who has one of the team's seven interceptions.Biggest disappointment: Granted, the bar is set high for Rolando McClain. But it should be. And as such, the second-year middle linebacker is not the game-changing force many saw him as being when the Raiders used the No. 8 overall pick on him in 2010. He has trouble shedding blocks and is easily re-directed and oftentimes takes bad angles on ball carriers. And yet, slowed by an ankle injury since Oct. 9, his absence is most definitely felt, especially in run defense, when he's out of the game. Go figure.Best play: The day after Al Davis passed away, and with only 10 men on the field, Michael Huff stepped in front of Matt Schaub's five-yard pass to Jacoby Jones in the end zone as time expired for the interception to seal the Raiders' emotional 25-20 victory at Houston. Nothing else comes close.Worst play: Hmmm, take your pick from any of Tebow's zone-read option runs against them on Sunday. Tebow galloped for 117 yards against Oakland, though two runs especially stood out as the faked-out duo of Kamerion Wimbley and Jarvis Moss are both still searching for their jock straps.Key to the second half: The same as the previous eight years -- stuffing the run and limiting big-chunk plays. Could recently-released DT Albert Haynesworth be a target and, if signed, be kept in check by Seymour, Kelly and John Henderson?

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

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AP

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”