Raiders notes: About late-game clock management

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Raiders notes: About late-game clock management

CHARLOTTE -- For the second time in a month, Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen's late-game clock management style has come under scrutiny.

And for the second time in that same time frame, Allen was resolute in his explanation.

Late in Sunday's 17-6 loss to Carolina, the Raiders were within a touchdown and a two-point conversion of tying the Panthers, and even a field goal would still require another touchdown.

But rather than attempt a 42-yard field goal with the most accurate strong leg in the league in Sebastian Janikowski that would have pulled the Raiders to within 14-9, and with more than five minutes to play and the Raiders defense having not allowed a second-half score, Allen decided to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the Panthers' 24-yard line.

Matt Leinart's check-down pass to Darren McFadden was batted down by Greg Hardy and the Panthers took over. Seven plays and 43 yards later, Carolina kicked a field goal to essentially end the game.

So, was Allen contemplating kicking a field goal instead of going for it with relatively so much time left on the clock?

"Yeah, but my thought process was we needed a touchdown no matter what," Allen said. "So I thought since we had the opportunity -- we were down there (and) we kicked the field goal a couple times down there -- I felt like we needed to get a touchdown. So I wanted to try and go for it and see if we couldn't get it.

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to make the play."

The Raiders last scored a touchdown more than eight quarters ago, with 5:36 to play on Dec. 6 against Denver.

And it was four days before that when Allen chose to go for a touchdown rather than kick a field goal while trailing Cleveland by 10 points.

That time, Oakland obviously needed a field goal and a touchdown -- in either order -- before attempting an onside kick against the Browns.

But with a minute to go, and the Raiders already at the Browns' 24-yard line, rather than kick a 42-yarder, Allen continued to press ahead. The result? A Carson Palmer touchdown pass to Brandon Myers…with one second to play. Too late.

Allen's thinking that day was he wanted a touchdown first because, with Janikowski's leg, he could attempt a field goal almost immediately after recovering an onside kick. The Raiders, though, ran out of time against the Browns. Plus, Janikowski's onside attempt went out of bounds.

It seems the problem is in the clock management and execution, rather than the thinking.

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The Raiders' non-division list of opponents for 2013 is comprised of home games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Washington and the team from the AFC North that finishes in the same spot in the standings as Oakland, with road games at Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, the New York Giants and the AFC East team that finishes the same as the Raiders.

Oakland has clinched third place in the AFC West, so if the season ended today, it would play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers and travel to the New York Jets.

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The Raiders could finish with as high as the No. 3 overall draft pick, behind Kansas City and Jacksonville, and the Chiefs would have the No. 1 selection if they lose at Denver this weekend.

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.”