Saunders' knowledge key to Raiders offense

666140.jpg

Saunders' knowledge key to Raiders offense

More than once I've written in this corner that Dennis Allen's first task as the Raiders' new head coach should have been to retain Al Saunders as his offensive coordinator.Almost.So close, in fact, you can now count Saunders' retention as a "senior offensive assistant" next to horseshoes and hand grenades in the streets of Silver and Blackdom.Saunders returning to Oakland might mean that much to not only the offense, but to the direction of the entire team as it rebuilds from within.
Yes, I know that Greg Knapp is returning to be Allen's playcalling O.C. and he figures to bring his brand of West Coast offense and zone-blocking scheme to Oakland. But rather than installing an entirely new system, Knapp can now be, ahem, assisted in the transformation by the staff's elder statesman.Knapp's West Coast offense sensibilities meshed a tad with Saunders' vertical-game acumen and knowledge of the roster?It makes sense. A lot of sense, especially when you throw in the continuity factor.Because remember, it was Saunders who actually devised each and every gameplan last season. Hue Jackson then used it like a menu, picking and choosing from it the actual plays to call on gameday. Plus, Saunders was the de facto quarterback coach. So he knows firsthand how much Carson Palmer could absorb in being flipped, so to speak, from a Darryl Lamonica mad bomber-type into a Rich Gannon accurate dink and dunker-type, and just where Terrelle Pryor is on the developmental scale.And even as the offense underwent makeover after makeover last season with season-ending injuries to Jason Campbell and Darren McFadden, season-altering injuries to Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore and the midseason additions of Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the offense was the strength of the 8-8 Raiders, who still finished one stop -- any stop against Buffalo or Detroit -- from going to the playoffs.Consider: Oakland was ninth in the NFL in total offense (379.5 yards per game), seventh in rushing offense (131.9), 11th in passing (247.6) and was tied for fifth in completions of 40 or more yards (14) and tied for seventh in rushing TDs (16).Imagine what Saunders can do with an entire offseason "advising" Knapp and reported new QB coach John DeFilippo and new receivers coach Ted Gilmore on how to best use so many weapons...so many healthy weapons.REPORT: DeFilippo returning to Raiders
This is good news for Raiders fans. Very good news that is actually refreshing in that once Saunders, who was the lone assistant from Jackson's staff still under contract, was allowed to interview with Kansas City for the Chiefs' O.C. position, it seemed he was a goner. And that he would come back to haunt the Raiders.It seemed preordained.Instead, Saunders is able to finish a job he started last season. Or at least, try.

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.

Ex-Raiders tight end signs deal with Jaguars

Ex-Raiders tight end signs deal with Jaguars

After four seasons with the Raiders, tight end Mychal Rivera is on the move.

The 2013 sixth-round pick has signed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team announced.

News of an agreement between the two sides was first reported by ESPN. Terms of the deal were not immediately known.

After playing a prominent role in Oakland his first two seasons, Rivera saw his numbers decrease in 2015 and 2016. This past season, he caught just 18 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown.

In his time with the Raiders, the Tennessee alum caught a total of 146 passes for 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Raiders signed free agent tight end Jared Cook last week to go with incumbents Clive Walford and Lee Smith.

Shortly after the deal was announced, Rivera took to Instagram to thank Raiders fans.

"Thank You #RaiderNation. It was an honor to wear silver and black for the first 4 years of my NFL career. A kid from LA was drafted to the Bay...and God made a way! Wins, Losses, Blood, Sweat, & Tears made me the player I am today. Better than ever. The values that embody what it is to be a Raider will stick with me for life," Rivera wrote.