Yeah, but: Knapp hiring has many points, counter-points

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Yeah, but: Knapp hiring has many points, counter-points

The Raiders reboot is in full effect.It's no secret that I have endorsed -- heartily -- new Raiders coach Dennis Allen keeping offensive coordinator Al Saunders in that same role because, well, it made sense. Probably too much sense.The offense was a bright spot for Oakland last season and Saunders provided the high-powered gameplans, even as Hue Jackson called the plays. Still, a little continuity on that side of the ball, a full offseason program with quarterback Carson Palmer, and a (cross your fingers, Raider Nation) healthy Darren McFadden with Saunders overseeing it all seemed like the right call.
And yetAllen has chosen to go in a different direction. Really, a radically different direction. His choice of Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator harkens some of the darkest memories of recent Raiders time. And the offense will undergo another facelift, along with the defense and special teams units.And while it has created a firestorm on the internet by furious Raiders fans, there seems to be an inherent point-counterpoint to Knapp's return. A whole slew of "Yeah, buts" slinking around the streets of Silver and Blackdom.This is not to criticize the hire as a bad fit; it's just that there was seemingly a better fit already on staff in Saunders, who is still under contract. All of which is explains, while I don't necessarily agree with the choice of replacing Saunders with Knapp, I understand it. Besides, why tell an incoming head coach he can pick and choose his entire staff if it's not really true? A guy has to feel comfortable with his assistants and trust them, no?As such, five such "Yeah, buts" to chew onKnapp already had his shot as the O.C. here and it failed miserably then, right?Yeah, but you try and be an effective offensive coordinator in the middle of the maelstrom of negativity that existed between Al Davis and Lane Kiffin. You want to talk dysfunction? Thar she blows. Or have you also forgotten the carousel of quarterbacks with which Knapp had to deal in 2007 -- Josh McCown? Daunte Culpepper? Andrew Walter? And yes, JaMarcus Russell as a rookie. I'll give you this much, though, things got so bad a year later Knapp had his playcalling duties stripped and given to Tom Cable. True, numbers don't lie. But again, imagine trying to work in that environment. I remember thinking Knapp would be the runaway choice to be the interim coach in the wake of Kiffin's firing, only to hear rumblings that Knapp wanted nothing to do with it and wanted out. Enter the Cable guy, to be followed by HueJax City.Knapp had Darren McFadden as a rookie, and wasted his skill set then, no?Yeah, but remember, Knapp was the O.C. when Run DMC ran over Kansas City for 164 yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown in his second-ever NFL game. Knapp's West Coast Offense might actually benefit the hybrid McFadden's skill setso long as he can stay healthy (an annual big if). The emphasis then was on developing Russell and by the time Cable took over the offense, McFadden was being used almost exclusively between the tackles in Cable's zone-blocking scheme. What a waste, as he is best in space. No doubt McFadden blossomed in his third pro season, under Jackson. The key was Jackson actually asking McFadden what kind of plays he liked to run and then implemented them. Knapp needs to take a cue from Hue on that point.What about re-training Carson Palmer? He's not a true West Coast Offense quarterback.Yeah, but well, you got me there. CP3 is anything but a Captain Checkdown-type of QB in the mold of Jason Campbell. Still, a dink here and a dunk there might benefit Palmer, who prefers the quick strike downfield. His deft touch on long throws should be able to translate to the flat, right? And even if Palmer is an old dog (in QB years), he is willing to learn a new trick or two, so long as it translates to success. And with a new offensive coordinator coming in, he was going to have to learn a new "language" anyway. At least this go-round, Palmer has an entire offseason to digest a new system and get on the same page with a receiving corps that did not exactly welcome him with open arms last fall.Wait, Allen said the offense would be up-tempo, like the New Orleans Saints' offense. Knapp's offenses over the years have been anything but explosive, more like churning the butter.Yeah, but he hasn't had this many weapons at his disposal, either. Again, it all depends upon health, but look what he did last year in Houston, getting third-string rookie T.J. Yates to not only survive but thrive in the playoff race and win a playoff game. Yes, I know Knapp did not run the Texans' offense, that he was merely the QB coach. But he did do a helluva job with Yates as a teacher, of sorts. And sure, Knapp might get too run-heavy at times, but his Atlanta teams led the league in rushing in 2004, 2005 and 2006. And when he had more all-around talent across the Bay, his 49ers teams ranked fourth, eighth and fifth in total offense in 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively. Talent makes coaches look smart. Lack of talent? Look up the rankings of the 2007 and 2008 Raiders offenses and the 2009 Seattle Seahawks. You get the picture.I'm sure Knapp is a nice guy, but this feels like a retread hire and I thought the Raiders were in full reboot mode looking to the future.Yeah, but The coaching fraternity is thisclose to be a good old boy network, meaning just about every coach out there is a retread. They live a vagabond existence. At least Knapp understands the dark belly of working for the Raiders. And with a regime change, things are decidedly different. The Raiders have entered a new era while paying respect to the past and, obviously, Knapp wants to be here. Most likely he feels a sense of unfinished business in Oakland, much as did Saunders. What it all comes down to is this -- Allen has made his choice of Knapp and there's nothing you can do about it. Nothing but come up with points why he should not be here, and counterpoints as to why he should. And vice-versa. And try not to drive yourself mad, literally or figuratively.

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.”