Raiders vs. Broncos: Matchups to watch


Raiders vs. Broncos: Matchups to watch

Sept. 9, 2011


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Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA -- Bittersweet does not begin to describe the Raiders' lot in 2010. They went unbeaten at 6-0 in the AFC West, yet just 2-8 outside of the division and did not qualify for the playoffs.

Heading into 2011, Oakland returns to the site of its greatest and most satisfying triumph, and on the biggest regular season stage in the game. Memories of the Raiders' 59-14 blowout of the Broncos last Oct. 24 in Denver still fresh in everyone's minds, the two play the final game of opening weekend on Monday Night Football.

In the wake of the NFL lockout -- both teams have new head coaches -- questions abound. A look, then, at some key matchups to watch Monday night:
Matchup to watch
Raiders right tackle Khalif Barnes (69) vs. Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil (92)

Barnes: 6-5, 325, Washington, seventh season
Dumervil: 5-11, 260, Louisville, fifth season

Two years ago, Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks. But he missed all of last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in training camp.

Barnes beat out rookie Joe Barksdale to win the right tackle position but had a rough go of it in the preseason with four false start penalties, three in the exhibition opener against Arizona.

So while Dumervill might actually line up more often across from Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer, Barnes will see more than his fair share of Dumervil in the Broncos' hybrid scheme, especially with sack-happy rookie linebacker Von Miller poised to create chaos from different parts of the field. And what makes the matchup all the more intriguing is combined experience and the size differential between the two.

Barnes may have a six-inch height advantage and weigh 65 pounds more, but Dumervil is much sleeker and faster. Plus, his lower center of gravity is an inherent advantage.

"He has natural leverage, good leverage to the ground already because of his size," Barnes said. "Good anchor and he plays (the) pass very well. And the rookie Von Miller, he has a little juice off the edge, too. So they've got two good pass rushers and me and Jared are going to have to be on our game that night.

"We have to bend to get down there. Those guys are already out-leveraging us naturally. So we're going to have to work to get up under their pads."

Broncos' first-year coach John Fox was asked to compare Dumervil to other players.

"(Dwight) Freeney coming out was looked at as undersized," Fox said. "Looking back, Jevon Kearse, when they first started in the 4-3 (defense was) a little bit smaller end. You used to have to be 6-5, 280 to play end in the National Football League. Just like your inside 'backers used to be real big guys. The game has gotten faster and with that speed, has become a little bit smaller.

"The thing that Elvis has is very long arms, which I think kind of off-sets his height."

Other matchups worth watching:

Hue Jackson vs. John Fox - A relatively young rookie coach who's never been a head coach at any level but is known for his offensive acumen in Jackson makes his debut on the Monday Night Football stage. Against a veteran, defensive-minded first-year coach who once worked for the Raiders in Fox, under those same primetime lights.

Opposites attract, and then some.

Jackson joined Mike Shanahan this preseason as the only Raiders coaches to go 0-4 in exhibitions but he was hamstrung by injuries. Now?

"I'm even more confident," Jackson said. "I have all my toys back, all my players are back. We're ready to play."

Fox, the Raiders' defensive coordinator in 1994 and 1995, was Carolina's head coach from 2002 through 2010.

"I hired John Fox," Raiders owner Al Davis reminded the gathering at Jackson's introductory media conference in January. "He was two years the coordinator here andafter failing in Carolina, he's the head coach in Denver."

Who blinks first in their respective debut?

Raiders vs. overconfidence - It's human nature, right? After all, the last time the Raiders visited Denver, they dropped a record 59 points on the Broncos. In three quarters, before taking the foot off the gas.

Darren McFadden had a career day with a career-high 165 yards rushing and four touchdowns, including three on the ground, while Sebastian Janikowski had eight touchbacks.

And then in the second meeting of the season, in Oakland, the Raiders won again, 39-23, to sweep the season series, 98-37, the largest single-season home-and-home differential in division play since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

So surely it must be in the back of the Raiders' heads that this will be another walk in the Mile High air, no?

Well, the players are saying al the right things. That last year was last year, and it doesn't matter what happened then, and this is a new year and yada, yada, yada.

We'll see how much they truly believe it.

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning won't prompt a spending spree.

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on the star quarterback.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year contract extension Friday morning that will pay him $25 million in 2017 and $125 million over the life of the deal.

That’s a lot of scratch. Could’ve been more.

Carr received life-changing money. He didn’t want to handcuff the Raiders front office in the process.

“I just wanted to be a Raider,” Carr said Friday in a press conference. “It’s more than just a team to me. It’s family. The way it went down, it was easy. Both sides wanted it to get done, and it was about family members figuring out to get along. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign other guys who are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not to just take every single dime that we could”

That list is long but it starts with homegrown talents Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack. Jackson is up next, and could get locked up before the regular season starts. The Raiders have some time on Mack – his contract doesn’t expire until after 2018 – and Amari Cooper should be a keeper on down the road.

“The bottom line is we’re able to continue to move forward with it, keep all the players that we need to keep in the correct timing,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “This affords us to do that. We’re going to start on that ASAP.”

Carr got the deal he wanted. The 26-year old found market value and upped the ante for NFL quarterbacks a smidge while deferring some cash payouts – his big-time bonuses are broken up over two years -- to create windows of financial flexibility to sign other players. Carr’s percentage of the salary cap should decrease over time and won’t become an insurmountable burden to his employers. His deal won’t prevent the Raiders from keeping Jackson, Mack, Amari Cooper in time, or other vital veterans in house.

With Carr locked up, the McKenzie can work deals and the timing of them around his centerpiece.

Carr understands the NFL business and his role in the market, but he wants to maintain a competitive window as best he can and understands other guys will draw huge paychecks in the near future.

He’s scheduled to draw the NFL’s largest sum next season. A record $25 million is headed his way, though that total will decrease a bit in time and will certainly he surpassed by Matthew Stafford and possibly Kirk Cousins in the near future.

“I don’t care if they all do. We got our contract done, that’s all that matters to me,” Carr said. “The other thing that was important to me is that we didn’t worry about what other people were going to do or doing. I just wanted to get mine done and make sure that the team had, again like we talked about, flexibility to make sure my friends stay around.”

Carr was intimately involved in the negotiation process. Both sides said it was easy, wrapped up well before Carr’s training-camp contract deadline. Common ground was found in short shrift once talks warmed up – preliminary talks started months ago -- and a deal was ironed out that produced smiles on both sides once the deal was formally done.

Even after taking a relatively soft-line stance on dollars and the timing of payments – Carr could’ve been difficult all year and eventually forced a franchise tag – he’s still the league’s highest-paid player. His salary will now be compared with his stats. He was a second-round draft steal before. Now he’s a big-money player. In short, expectations will rise.

Carr insists it won’t add pressure to next year’s proceedings.

“You could give me a dollar, you could give me $25 million, it doesn’t matter,” Carr said. “To me, my No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything that I have to this organization. There’s no pressure. There’s no we’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn (Lynch), I’ll throw it. None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats. That’s not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”