Raiders not ready for prime time, not yet anyway


Raiders not ready for prime time, not yet anyway

OAKLAND -- The Raiders are not ready for a playoff run.They are not the best team in the division.They are not ready for Prime Time.None of which bodes well for Oakland, considering the Raiders have a prime time game coming up on a short work week, Thursday night in San Diego.

"We're not a very intelligent football team right now," offered Raiders coach Hue Jackson.And not a very opportunistic one, either.Whereas the Raiders could and, yes, should be enjoying a two-game lead in the AFC Worst, er, West, they instead are in a three-way tie for first with those same Chargers and Kansas City at 4-4. Denver is now only one game back.In consecutive home games, sandwiching a bye, the Raiders looked lost, disinterested and, at the tail end of Sunday's embarrassing 38-24 loss to Denver, as if they committed the mortal sin in sports -- quitting.Yes, I know all about injuries and roster turnover and chemistry. But with so much at stake, and with so much purported talent on the roster, the Raiders were supposed to handle the Chiefs and the Broncos, right?The talk in the streets of Silver and Blackdom this week went something like this: if the Raiders can't beat the sorry Broncos with Michael Bush at running back, they don't deserve to go to the playoffs. And this was two weeks after the same thing was shouted from the top of Mt. Davis: well, if they can't beat the Chiefs with Kyle Boller ...
But that's the beauty of the NFL.The Raiders get back on the field in four day's time to get the nasty taste of Tim Tebow's cleats out of their mouths, rather than having to marinate in such utter embarrassment a full week.The 298 rushing yards the Raiders allowed the Broncos are the fourth-most in franchise history, behind the 319 compiled by Seattle in 2001, the 316 by the New York Jets in 2009 and the 306 by Buffalo in 1962."Ridiculous," huffed defensive tackle Richard Seymour.What stings more, though, is Denver piling up 230 of those yards in the second halfon 23 carries.And on the same plays the Broncos ran in the first half. The same plays the Raiders prepared for all week. With his 117 yards, Tebow became just the second quarterback in Denver franchise history to rush for at least 100 yards. And no, it was not John Elway. Paging someone named Norris Weese."In the first half, we got off the field," said defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. "In the second half, we spit the bit."They ran the same things since they put (Tebow) in there, that college (stuff)."And yet, to their own dismay, the Raiders could not stop Tebow's rather simplistic zone-read option. Even if, as mentioned above, they knew it was coming.Jackson said he'd have to look at the video to see if it was scheme. If not, then it's talent, or lack thereof, or desire.In any case, it's just further proof that the Raiders are not ready. Not yet anyway.They had a chance to do something special over the past three weeks, especially on Sunday. Instead, they threw it away. Literally, and figuratively.Does that sound like a team ready to make that next step?

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.”