AFC West: Al Davis

NAPA, Calif. -- Marcel Reece was about to be presented with the Oakland Raiders “Commitment to Excellence Award” in March and NFL free agency was about to begin.

The two-time Pro Bowl fullback wanted general manager Reggie McKenzie to make “Raider-ass moves” with his signings, fearless moves, though Reece, who has been in Oakland since 2008, was also leery

“I’m not expecting them to come in and set the tone on how to be a Raider; they don’t know how to be a Raider,” Reece said that evening. “I’m looking forward to setting that tone and whoever comes in that locker room is going to work like us.”

[+] EnlargeJustin Tuck
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJustin Tuck is one of a handful of new Raiders who has been to and won a Super Bowl.
Paging the likes of Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, James Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew, Kevin Boothe and Donald Penn, while summoning the acquired-in-a-trade Matt Schaub .

Together, the eight tote a combined six Super Bowl rings and 10 Pro Bowl appearances. Yeah, they know how to win.

The likes of Reece, Darren McFadden, Tyvon Branch and Jon Condo, meanwhile, know what it means to represent the Raiders, but they have never experienced a winning season in Oakland.

“In years past, the leadership was not the best,” Condo said. “Guys that are coming in…the young guys are looking at them and the vets are showing them, this is how you practice. This is how you study. This is how you prepare your bodies for the 16-game season. The way people go about their business, you see true professionalism on and off the field, doing the right things.

“Not to rag on what’s been here in the past, but it just seems like there was just a cycle with how veterans would act and young guys would look at that and think, ‘That’s what it takes to be a pro.’ And it wasn’t really the right way to be a pro.

“Now, you bring in the right guys and they are teaching the young guys how to be a pro and they’re going to carry it on three, four, five, six seven, eight, 10 years … to the draft classes.”

According to Tuck, there has been no push back from the older Raiders players.

“It’s not like we’re coming in here acting like we know everything; we don’t,” Tuck said. “We’re still learning ourselves. It’s never going to be a situation where, ‘Oh, y’all doing this wrong.’ We’re trying to work together

“At the end of the day, it has to be the Raider way … all the guys that they brought in know the history of the Raiders. … You found yourself fascinated by the silver and black and all the great players that played here and Al Davis and all the characters in Raider history.

“Now, it’s just a work in progress.”

Jones-Drew grew up in the East Bay a Raiders fan. So his coming home carried extra meaning, even if it meant playing for a team that has not been to the playoffs or won more than eight games in a season since 2002.

“The Raider way has always been winning,” he said. “But I think every franchise goes through some tough times. The guys they brought in had that Raider mentality already … doing whatever it takes to win. It was a great mix of guys, the correct mix of guys.”

And it’s not just the longer-tenured Raiders or youngsters who are paying attention to the new silver and black Jedi in town.

“We won one year in Jacksonville, so if Tuck comes in and says something, I’m going to listen … regardless if it’s against what I want to do or not,” Jones-Drew said. “They know what it takes to get to that next level, so you’ve got to be selfess and listen. And I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are doing that and it’s awesome.”

But will it translate into more than moral victories?
video
Ray Guy took his place among the game’s immortals Saturday night when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He made a little extra history along the way.

The Oakland Raiders' first-round draft pick in 1973 is the first pure punter to be enshrined. He is the 22nd Hall of Famer the Raiders recognize.

"Punters," former Raiders coach and fellow Hall of Famer John Madden said in his introduction of Guy, "are football players, too."

In a speech that lasted nearly 15 minutes, Guy spoke of his long and winding road to Canton from the fields of Georgia.

"There are no more games to play," he said, "no more records to set or championships to win. This is beyond my wildest dreams. I didn’t do it alone."

Guy, a seven-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro selection, thanked members of his family first, saying the greatest influences in his life were his late mother and father. He also mentioned his late college coach at Southern Mississippi, P.W. Underwood, as well as late Raiders owner Al Davis, who was represented in Canton by his wife Carole and son Mark, the current Raiders managing general partner. Two-time Super Bowl-winning Raiders coach Tom Flores was also in the audience.

"Playing in the NFL with the Raiders was my destiny," said Guy, one of just six players to have been on all three of their Super Bowl title teams.

Also a safety in college, Guy was an athlete. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He also said he could have played in the NBA.

Just three of Guy’s 1,049 career punts were blocked.

"Ray Guy made people in the 'hood say, 'I’m Ray Guy,'" Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said on the NFL Network.

"There was nothing too technical or complicated" about how Guy kicked, he said. "I was taught to keep my ego in its place. I’d rather be in the background, just one of the people.

"I am who I am, and that’s all you're ever going to get."

Guy said he was told recently that the biblical meaning of his uniform number, 8, was a new beginning. As such, he hoped his inclusion at Canton was a new beginning for punters, as well as continuing to serve as an inspiration.

"Punters," Guy said, "keep the faith. You are an important part of every game.

"This is long, long overdue. But now, the Hall of Fame has a complete team."
It only seems natural that Ray Guy chose his first NFL coach to present him Saturday when the longtime Oakland Raiders punter is introduced for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

John Madden, who is already an enshrinee in Canton, Ohio, will do the honors. But Guy also said there was a certain pecking order to who he wanted introducing him.

The late Al Davis, who presented eight previous Raiders Hall of Famers, would have been Guy’s first choice, followed by Madden and, if Madden would have been unavailable, Guy’s only other head coach with the Raiders, Tom Flores.

“I wanted Al to do it, of course,” Guy said earlier this week. “We’re only here for a little while, basically, but I wanted him to do it and then, of course, he’s not going to be able to be there. He is there but he’s not there verbally introducing me.

“I wanted to keep it within the family, and when I say family, I’m talking about the Raiders, so the next obvious choice would be John.”

Madden was the Raiders' coach when Oakland used an unheard of first-round draft pick on Guy in 1973, and under whom the Raiders won their first championship, Super Bowl XI in the 1976 season.

SportsNation

With Ray Guy's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who is the next most Hall of Fame-worthy Raider?

  •  
    18%
  •  
    11%
  •  
    8%
  •  
    45%
  •  
    18%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,125)

“John is going to be a great inspiration to me when he’s standing up there,” Guy added. “I don’t know what he’s going to say, because nobody knows what he’s going to say, but you know, I wanted to keep it through the chain of command. And then, if John was not available, it would have stepped right down to Tom because Tom was there as the (receivers coach) all of my years until John retired and then Tom took over, so there was no change there, there wasn’t a change in anything it just kept the same thing.”

Under Flores, the Raiders won Super Bowl XV and then, with the franchise relocated to Los Angeles, the Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII. Guy retired following the 1986 season with back issues.

Guy is one of just six Raiders players to be on all three Raiders title teams, along with Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks, receiver Cliff Branch, center Dave Dalby, offensive tackle Henry Lawrence and offensive lineman Steve Sylvester. Guy will also be the first pure punter enshrined.

“So, I just wanted to keep it in the Raider family,” Guy said. “I could not have asked for a better presenter than John Madden, because he’s part of my family."
NAPA, Calif. -- It's only been three years since Chimdi Chekwa came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Oakland Raiders. Yet he's already had so many ups and downs as a player you could not blame him if the frustration became too much to bear.

Consider: After recovering from a wrist injury in his final season at Ohio State that had him wondering if he'd ever play football again, Chekwa dislocated a shoulder in his first padded NFL practice ... hitting a pad. Then he was flip-flopped from cornerback to safety and back again before being cut at the end of his second training camp and then being stashed on the Raiders' practice squad.

Last year, he appeared in a career-high 15 games, mostly on special teams, as he bulked up. Now, he is one of just nine Al Davis draft picks remaining on the Raiders' 90-man training camp roster, along with free safety Charles Woodson, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, offensive lineman Kevin Boothe, running back Darren McFadden, strong safety Tyvon Branch, center Stefen Wisniewski, cornerback Taiwan Jones and receiver Denarius Moore (long-snapper Jon Condo and fullback Marcel Reece were both free agents).

But perhaps most impressive, Chekwa is in line to start at cornerback, in place of the injured DJ Hayden as the No. 12 overall pick of the 2013 draft recovers from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.

"I'm very comfortable," Chekwa said following practice Thursday. "It was a difficult road but that's what builds character in the individual. When you're out there and you're having a difficult time out there, that's what helps you dig deep and be able to finish plays. It's all part of my road to doing what I want to do out here, so I'm comfortable."

And he's been raising eyebrows along the way as a pleasant surprise.

"He did some things in the spring that we were impressed with," coach Dennis Allen said. "Since I've gotten here, he's continued to get better and better every day.

"He's very, very valuable to us on special teams, so if he continues to improve, I think Chimdi's a guy that can help us this year."

Thursday, Chekwa nearly picked off Matt Schaub on a pass to receiver James Jones. Instead, he batted the ball away. With every rep, you can see Chekwa's body language growing with confidence.

He's at peace with his station in life -- the 25-year-old was married this past summer -- and with the way his skill set fits into Allen's vision for the Raiders secondary.

"We play some zone where you can see [the ball] and break," Chekwa said. "We play some man where you can get up there and press. I like to mix it up. That's what I did in college.

"To be honest, I think I can do it all. But I think one of my strengths is breaking on the ball, attacking the receiver, attacking the ball."

Yes, he has been taking advantage of the in-house tutoring afforded by the bump-and-run master himself, Willie Brown. And taking the lessons onto the field as well.

"If I didn't get better today, then I didn't accomplish anything," Chekwa said.

"I want to be here, so I'm going to do everything I can to stay here."
I caught part of a replay of Super Bowl XXII the other day on NFL Network, and it was the start of the third quarter between the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos when announcer Al Michaels said something that caught my attention.

It actually made me pause the DVR, hit rewind and play again so I could hear Michaels one more time. And then another.

Sure, there had been rumors that Al Davis had been enamored with quarterback Doug Williams. But in the third quarter of that Super Bowl, after Williams had essentially won the game for Washington with an epic second quarter that featured five touchdowns, Michaels told the tale.

[+] EnlargeDoug Williams
AP Photo/Amy SancettaThe Raiders and Redskins reportedly discussed a swap for quarterback Doug Williams before the 1987 season.
He reported that Williams had been ticketed to the then-Los Angeles Raiders the Monday before the NFL’s 1987 regular season was to begin. Then-Washington coach Joe Gibbs had even told Williams he was on his way to the Raiders.

But then, according to Michaels, the Raiders balked at Washington’s price -- a first-round draft pick, or a very good player.

Now, we’ve already heard the tales of John Elway coming so close to being a Raider, and how the Raiders should have drafted Dan Marino in that same 1983 draft after the purported draft-day trade to land Elway fell through. And while the Williams-to-the-Raiders story might not have that same intrigue as either Elway or Marino wearing Silver and Black, it is interesting nonetheless.

Especially when you consider what Williams accomplished later that strike-torn season, and when you realize who the Raiders instead used that first-round pick on in the 1983 draft.

Williams, who had been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback from 1978 through 1982 and had helped author three playoff appearances for them, was also a pioneer as an African American quarterback, following in the footsteps of James Harris and Joe Gilliam.

And we know that Davis looked beyond skin tone when it came to players he believed could play --Davis selected QB Eldridge Dickey in the first round of the 1968 draft -- and Williams had the big arm Davis was always in search of.

But after a contract dispute ended his time in Tampa Bay, Williams played two seasons in the USFL before resurfacing in Washington in 1986 as Jay Schroeder's backup.

Williams had not started an NFL game since Jan. 9, 1983, a playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys, so yeah, you could imagine the Raiders not wanting to give up a first-rounder for him less than a week before the 1987 season.

Still, the Raiders were relatively unsettled under center entering that season as Jim Plunkett had retired and Marc Wilson and Rusty Hilger were the returners.

But even as the Raiders got off to a 3-0 start, the wheels quickly fell off, thanks in part to the strike, which cancelled one week of games and led to three weeks of replacement player games. The Raiders finished 5-10, their worst record since going 1-13 in 1962, the year before Davis arrived in Oakland. And two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Flores resigned following the season.

Would Williams have saved the season and steadied the Raiders' ship?

Meanwhile, in Washington, Williams still had to bide his time. Sure, he relieved Schroeder a few times in 1987 and even started two regular-season games, but he did not become Washington’s starter for good until there was 6:51 remaining in the third quarter of its regular-season finale against Minnesota.

Williams, a huge team favorite, led Washington on its playoff run, upsetting the Chicago Bears in the divisional round and then upending the Vikings in the NFC title game.

Then came Super Sunday, in which he threw all four of his touchdown passes in the historic second quarter and passed for a then-Super Bowl record 340 yards in Washington’s 42-10 victory over Elway’s Broncos as Williams became the first African-American starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, a feat not matched until Russell Wilson did it with the Seattle Seahawks this past February.

The trade that never happened between Oakland and Washington seemed to work out best for Washington, at least on the surface.

But if the Raiders had given up their first-rounder in 1988, they probably would have missed out on Tim Brown, though the Raiders did do some wheeling and dealing later to acquire three first-rounders, which they used on Brown, Terry McDaniel and Scott Davis.

So, with hindsight always being 20/20, do you essentially trade Doug Williams for Tim Brown if you’re the Raiders?

Whatever your answer, remember this: the Raiders and Washington would get together for a trade in 1988, a deal that would haunt the Raiders as they sent offensive tackle Jim Lachey to Washington for… wait for it … Schroeder.

Williams would only play 15 more games over the next two seasons before retiring, while Schroeder could not fully win over the hearts and minds of the Raiders' locker room in five seasons.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Matt Schaub is already an important figure in the lore of Oakland Raiders football. Granted, for another team.

It was Schaub who threw a game-ending end zone interception for the Houston Texans against the Raiders on Oct. 9, 2011. The day after Al Davis died. When the Raiders had only 10 men on the field.

“I think greater forces were at play that day,” Schaub said Tuesday, following the new Oakland quarterback’s first OTA practice with his new team.

“But coming into the building, you can feel the sense of the tradition and the aura around the Raiders organization, and it’s special to be a part of that right now.”

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
AP Photo/Ben MargotQuarterback Matt Schaub is hoping a change of scenery will get his career back on track.
No doubt the Raiders are hoping the only forces at work for Schaub going forward are positive ones that will result in success. Why else would they go all-in with Schaub as their franchise quarterback after acquiring him for a sixth-round draft pick?

Coach Dennis Allen has said to anyone who will listen that Schaub is his guy, that he still considers the two-time Pro Bowler a top-10 quarterback in the NFL.

“I think he understands the game,” Allen said. “I think he’s incredibly smart. He knows what it takes to win in this league. He knows how you have to prepare, how you have to take care of your body, how you have to meet, how you have to practice. So I think he is a true pro in every sense of the word.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the quarterback is probably the most important position on the football team.”

Of course, no quarterback can do things on his own. And the way Schaub sees it, despite the lack of an established No. 1 pass-catching presence on the Raiders' roster, someone like his old target in Houston’s Andre Johnson, for example, Oakland is not bereft of talent.

“I look at ... the weapons around our receiving room, our tight end room, our backs; we have six or seven No. 1 guys,” Schaub said. “I look at it as we have a stable of guys that we can distribute the football to and we can spread it around. We don’t have to focus on one guy. We can beat you with four or five or six different guys.

“On any given day, one of those guys might have 10 [catches] for 150 [yards], but we’re not trying to set the standard like, ‘Hey, you’re going to be the guy that we’re going to go to this many times.’ We’re going to try to spread it around, keep the defense honest. ... It’s going to be exciting to be a part of it.”

Schaub, who passed for more than 4,000 yards three times between 2009 and 2012, is coming off a career-worst season in which he lost his job in Houston and threw 14 interceptions, including a pick-six in four straight games, and 10 touchdowns in 10 games, eight starts.

And sure, it was just an OTA practice, the first of his Raiders tenure, but Schaub did throw a pick-six to Justin Tuck on Tuesday.

Still, Schaub, who has gone bowling with his new teammates as well as taken the offensive line and other quarterbacks to an Oakland A’s game, said he has more freedom in calling audibles under Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

“We had some audible systems in some alerts ... in Houston, but as far as protection calls and some of the things -- freedom to change routes to put our guys in position to make plays -- there’s a bit of a difference here than I’ve had in my past,” Schaub said. “At the stage of my career that I’m in, it’s refreshing to have that opportunity because it challenges me from a more mental standpoint now in a new place.”

One that is already familiar to him, courtesy of his role in the "Divine Interception" game.
Richie Incognito as a member of the Oakland Raiders is so, well, last regime. Or have you not noticed the trend and type of player general manager Reggie McKenzie has been signing thus far this offseason?

Incognito
They are guys not only with championship pedigrees but also locker room leaders. Guys like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and James Jones, and yes, the re-signed Charles Woodson.

Incognito exhibits none of those traits.

Sure, the left guard is a mauler on the offensive line who would have fit in nicely on the old-school Raiders’ island of misfit toys (imagine him and Lyle Alzado going at it in practice), but McKenzie is veering away from those types of players.

Asked at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Monday if he had seen the NFL.com report in which Incognito said he was “100 percent into” the prospect of playing for the Raiders, McKenzie smiled.

“I’ve heard about it,” McKenzie said, per the Bay Area News Group.

Asked what he thought about it, McKenzie smiled and said nothing.

Asked if he was interested in Incognito, McKenzie again smiled and was mute.

From a pure playing standpoint, Incognito does have relationships with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

“I’m a loyal guy,” Incognito told NFL.com, “and I’d love to play for them again. And, of course, the Raiders have that aura.”

But again, that aura is from a different generation. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just is.

Because the notion of Incognito -- who may still face league discipline for his role in the bullying episode in Miami involving Jonathan Martin -- joining the Raiders gave pause to even the progeny of Al Davis.

“I’d have to think about that,” Mark Davis told reporters.

He’d probably be wise to check in with recently signed defensive end Antonio Smith, who has a longstanding feud with Incognito going back to their college days in the Big 12, a bad blood grudge that’s included kicks to the head, helmets being ripped off and more-than-salty threats.

Yeah, Incognito would be a great fit for the old Raiders ... just not McKenzie’s Raiders, who have already added offensive linemen Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard, to go along with center Stefen Wisniewski, the re-signed Khalif Barnes, second-year tackle Menelik Watson, veteran right guard Mike Brisiel, Matt McCants, Lamar Mady and McKenzie's first-ever draft pick, Tony Bergstrom.

As one anonymous Raiders player told me last season when I asked which player, Incognito or Martin, he would rather have as a teammate, “Neither,” was the reply.

Double Coverage: Matt Schaub

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
8:00
AM ET
SchaubJim Brown/USA TODAY SportsThe Oakland Raiders believe quarterback Matt Schaub can rebound this season.
The Oakland Raiders acquired two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub from the Houston Texans on Friday and Raiders coach Dennis Allen immediately anointed the 10-year veteran his starter, even as he already had Trent Edwards, Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor on his roster.

Schaub, though, is coming off a career-worst year in which he was often booed at home, threw a flurry of interceptions returned for touchdowns, lost his starting job and had a career-low total quarterback rating of 43.65. In fact, Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson saw his new quarterback's fall from grace as a blessing in disguise, saying, “Had he not had the season he had last year in Houston, he wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

ESPN.com Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez and Texans reporter Tania Ganguli broke down Schaub and his leaving Houston for Oakland.

Paul Gutierrez: It was obvious that Schaub bottomed out last year. The question is why -- was it more mental or physical?

Tania Ganguli: There was certainly a physical aspect to it. His arm strength wasn't what it had been. But a bigger part of it was mental. You can't pin everything that went wrong with the Texans' offense on Schaub. But the pick-six is such a catastrophic play that the streak of four games with one thrown was mentally very taxing on both the team and the quarterback. I've heard a lot of people around him say that his pick-six to Richard Sherman (his third of last season) was the one that ultimately crushed his confidence.

Do you think Oakland is a place where he can regain his confidence?

Gutierrez: So long as the offensive line holds up and gives him time. The Raiders have made a concerted effort to overhaul the offensive line since free agency began, picking up left tackle Donald Penn, right tackle Austin Howard and guard/center Kevin Boothe. The Raiders also got a veteran receiver in former Packers wideout James Jones, so general manager Reggie McKenzie has been building around the quarterback position, so to speak, to get a veteran signal-caller to serve as a bridge, of sorts. Schaub fits that description, no? Thing is, McKenzie and his scouts have failed thus far at identifying and settling on a franchise quarterback. They inherited Carson Palmer, but traded him away in favor of Matt Flynn, who bombed. Then they zeroed in on USC’s Matt Barkley last spring in the draft before the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in and took him. They used a fourth-round draft pick on Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, who was cut a couple of times and ultimately picked off their practice squad by the Tennessee Titans. Finally, they seemed to botch the handling of Terrelle Pryor and undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. With the money owed Schaub, unless he restructures his contract, the Raiders believe he will regain his confidence.

And yet, after last season’s debacle, is Schaub the kind of guy who would benefit from a mere change of scenery?

Ganguli: ESPN Stats & Info passed along some stats that support your skepticism, but I think a change of scenery will be great for Schaub nonetheless. First their points: Schaub has declined over the past three seasons in stats like first down percentage, total QBR, yards per attempt and interception percentage. The dramatic drop in QBR (from 67 in 2011 to 64 in 2012 to 37 in 2013) and dramatic increase in interception percentage (2.1 to 2.2 to 3.9) indicate a statistical anomaly. Given what the Raiders are going to be spending on him, it's clear that's what they believe, too. What made 2013 so bizarre is Schaub had not been a turnover machine historically. If he's in a situation where things around him go well, he can recover. But things have to go well around him. The struggles the Texans had with their running game were a very underrated part of why their offense wasn't working. Schaub had done really well out of play-action in the past, but didn't last year. Is he going to a place where the running game will support his endeavors?

Gutierrez: Which brings us to the $100,000 question (the amount of money guaranteed to running back Darren McFadden). It always comes back to the health of the perpetually injured McFadden. If McFadden is healthy -- he’s never played more than 13 games in a season and has missed 19 of the Raiders’ past 41 games, including six last season -- and used properly to his skill set, he’s a quarterback’s best friend. Look at how good and effective he made Jason Campbell look in 2011, before both were lost for the season with injuries. As noted above, the overhaul of the offensive line would suggest the Raiders are going to go all-in with a power running game and after McFadden, Oakland has the CFL’s Grey Cup MVP in Kory Sheets, a virtual rookie in Latavius Murray, who missed all of last season with injury, and Jeremy Stewart. Obviously, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the Raiders’ running game. No doubt, McKenzie & Co. are hoping Schaub brings some answers with him, without weighing him down with unrealistic expectations.

Schaub, you’ll recall, is already in the Raiders' annals for his part in the "Divine Interception" play in 2011, when he was picked off in the end zone to seal an Oakland victory in Houston the day after Al Davis died and with the Raiders having only 10 players on the field. How cognizant is Schaub of NFL history in general, the Raiders and that play in particular, or is he simply a football player?

Ganguli: Wow, I forgot all about that. And it figures, doesn’t it? Run off on the heels of an uncharacteristically interception-laden season, Schaub gets traded to a team against which he threw an interception that led to an eerily perfect moment in the franchise’s history.

He might be a student of the game’s history, but will rarely let the public into any aspect of his being that isn’t related to the game immediately in front of him. I challenge you, Paul, to extract the personality we all knew was beneath Schaub’s stone exterior. By all accounts, he is interesting, funny and has a great personality. We just never saw it publicly. Schaub went to great lengths to make us believe he was dull, but he isn’t.

It won’t be long before Schaub faces his old team again. The Texans have a trip to Oakland on their schedule, which is less interesting than if the Raiders were to return to Houston with Schaub at the helm, but it’ll be interesting nonetheless. What’s your prediction?

Gutierrez: I accept your challenge, Tania, and look forward to seeing what’s underneath said “stone exterior.” Many see it as more milquetoast and that was a reason so many fans clamored for the likes of Michael Vick because, really, ain’t nothing boring about the artist formerly known as Ron Mexico. And actually, for what the Raiders are doing, Schaub is their man. He was their No. 1 target all along, followed by Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman and then Vick. Fans may not agree with what McKenzie and Allen are doing but as far as the Raiders are concerned, it’s exactly what they want to do. As far as a prediction, I’ll wait until the roster is completely overhauled and the schedule is out and we see when, exactly, Schaub faces the Texans in Oakland. The cynic will predict a back-breaking and game-changing pick-six for Schaub against his former team. The optimist sees a 400-yard passing day and victory for Schaub and the Raiders against the Texans. Look forward to chatting again then.
Mike Mitchell, LaMarr WoodleyGetty ImagesIn safety Mike Mitchell and linebacker LaMarr Woodley the Steelers and Raiders hope to find free-agent steals.
LaMarr Woodley is now a Raider as he signed with Oakland last week following his release from the Steelers. The Steelers, meanwhile, made an uncharacteristic signing on the first day of free agency, bringing in Mike Mitchell to take over for Ryan Clark at free safety. Mitchell played for the Panthers in 2013 but spent his first four seasons with the Raiders.

ESPN.com Steelers writer Scott Brown and ESPN.com Raiders writer Paul Gutierrez take a closer look at Woodley and Mitchell and what their signings mean for their respective teams.

Paul Gutierrez: The Raiders had many needs entering the offseason, perhaps none greater than pass rush. They seemed to address that by signing Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, but I’m sure Raiders fans are wondering just how much Woodley, who turns 30 in November, has left in the tank?

Scott Brown: The Raiders should be getting a player who will be extremely motivated following his release by the Steelers -- and by how his career played out after they had made Woodley the highest-paid defensive player in franchise history. It proved to be a rather stunning fall from grace for Woodley, and ultimately the Steelers picked Jason Worilds, whom they had been widely criticized for drafting in the second round in 2010, over Woodley.

Woodley’s inability to stay on the field led to the Steelers making that choice, and if he can stay healthy he could turn out to be a real bargain for the Raiders. Woodley played well until a calf injury sidelined him in the second half of the last season and ultimately shut him down. What has the reaction been to the Woodley signing, and do you think the Raiders view it as a low-risk, high-reward proposition?

Gutierrez: The reaction has been one of relief from Raiders fans, especially since Tuck had signed earlier in the wake of the Rodger Saffold debacle. Now, I’m not saying it “saved” the Raiders’ free agent-signing season, but it did wash away some of the bad taste because the Raiders had a huge need at pass rush. In Woodley (57 career sacks) and Tuck (60.5 career sacks) they addressed it even if both guys will be on the wrong side of 30 come midseason. Still, Woodley and Tuck, bring a championship mentality (two Super Bowl appearances) to a franchise that has not had a winning record since 2002. And yeah, the money is right (“only” up to $12 million) as is the length of the deal (two years).

Still, there are questions about how his skill set plays into the Raiders’ base 4-3 defense since Woodley was the left outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme. He says he’ll play with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end in a 4-3. Do you see that as a realistic possibility, or is that too much to ask of him at this stage of his career?

Brown: Woodley should be fine moving to defensive end as that is what he played in college when he tormented quarterbacks for Michigan. The move might help him regain some of his pass-rushing mojo as Woodley won’t drop into coverage nearly as often as he did with the Steelers. I like the signing for the Raiders, especially if Woodley prepares and plays as if a fire has been lit under him. Did complacency set in after he signed the six-year, $61.5 million in 2011? It sure seems that way and maybe getting released is what Woodley needed to get his career back on track.

The Steelers normally stay on the sidelines during the first wave of free agency but they made a significant signing when they lured Mike Mitchell away from Carolina with a five-year, $25 million contract. Mitchell spent his first four seasons in Oakland and I’m curious about your impressions of him. Did he simply need a change of scenery or did things click for him last season because he played on a better team?

Gutierrez: Yeah, it’s been a couple of years since I covered Mitchell on a day-to-day basis but he definitely left an impression as one of the best interviews in the Raiders locker room, win, lose or draw. The spotlight was on him from the day Al Davis used a second-round pick on a little-known player from Ohio University. Davis had visions of another undersized, hard-hitting safety from the Buckeye State in Jack Tatum but that was a tough bar to reach. Still, he had some flashes… especially in covering San Diego tight end Antonio Gates a few years back. A change of scenery, and being with a team that had a better pass rush, definitely helped him out in Carolina. Plus, he was able to freelance more with the Panthers as a free safety, rather than on the strong side. And with his outspoken manner, gritty disposition and, yes, rep as a hard hitter, he seems to fit the mold of Raiders and Steelers' DBs of yore, even if he’s not Tatum or even Donnie Shell.

Speaking of old school, Raiders fans still refer to “IT” as the Immaculate DE-ception… so when, if ever, is Frenchy Fuqua going to tell the entire story?

Brown: I just read a tremendous book on the 1970s Steelers, “Their Life’s Work,” and it sounds like he is taking that story to his grave. I’m sure Steelers’ fans would counter that the Immaculate RE-ception is history and in the books no matter how it went down. It certainly is one of the more intriguing chapters of that storied rivalry and remains so after all of these years. What are the chances that the Raiders and Steelers turn back the clock at some point and resume meeting regularly in the playoffs as they did in the 1970s?

Gutierrez: Well, that would mean the Raiders have to get BACK to the playoffs, a place they have not visited since 2002. Realistically, I can’t see it happening in the next year or two, but in the NFL, things do change quickly. Not sure the rivalry can ever get back to the days of the ’70s, though, when the Steelers and Raiders met in three straight AFC title games, which I wrote about in January.

Would Raiders draft Michael Sam?

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
8:15
PM ET
Does Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out as gay Sunday night on ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" affect the Oakland Raiders' thinking on the NFL draft prospect?

Doesn't sound like it, so long as Sam has the skill set to play in the NFL.

"The Oakland Raiders have long championed diversity and opportunity," Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a team-issued release Monday afternoon. "The organization will evaluate Michael Sam based purely on his ability as a football player."

Indeed, as an organization under the late Al Davis, the Raiders hired a Latino head coach in Tom Flores, who became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl as he won two, the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history in Art Shell, who was the league’s coach of the year in 1990, and the highest-ranking female executive in former CEO Amy Trask.

Sam, who was the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year with 11 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, would seem to fill a need for the Raiders, who are in search of an edge rusher. Plus, defensive ends Lamarr Houston, Jason Hunter and Vance Walker are all free agents.

Still, Oakland already has a project in Jack Crawford and the 6-feet-2, 260-pound Sam might be a bit undersized for the Raiders’ needs in their 4-3 defensive alignment. If he is still around in the later rounds of the draft, perhaps the Raiders take a shot.

Raiders players have been silent on their Twitter feeds regarding Sam’s announcement but Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece took part in a public service announcement last summer regarding gay athletes.

The theme was "If you can play, you can play," and Reece joined other Bay Area sports personalities such as San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp, San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, Golden State Warriors guard/forward Klay Thompson, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski in the inclusivity-promoting PSA.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Terrelle Pryor seemed genuinely embarrassed by the diatribe his agent, Jerome Stanley, went on the week before Pryor started at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders in the season finale.

Stanley paid for his public sentiment that Raiders coach Dennis Allen was setting his client up to fail with his job, as Pryor fired him on Wednesday, according to Fox Sports.

Pryor, whose first agent was Drew Rosenhaus, had yet to hire a new representative. But you have to wonder how this could affect Pryor’s future with the Raiders. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract after Al Davis used a third-round supplemental draft pick on him -- the late Davis’ final draft pick -- in 2011.

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsTerrelle Pryor fired his agent after he suggested that Raiders coach Dennis Allen wanted Pryor to fail.
“You have to understand the coach is putting [Pryor] in, he doesn’t want him to look good,” Stanley told CSN Bay Area at the time. “And you can write that. He doesn’t want him to look good because, if he looks good this week, it makes the past five weeks look like a bad decision. [Allen] doesn’t want [Pryor] to look good; he wants him to look bad. That is what is going on.”

“Well, first is, I’d say that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever frickin' heard,” Allen said the day after Stanley’s comments. “No coach in their right mind ... this isn’t 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.' This isn’t made-for-TV drama. This is football, and we make our football decisions based solely on that. Nothing other than that.

“So I don’t really give it a lot of thought. I can’t control the ignorance that might come out of somebody else’s mouth, but I talked to Terrelle about it. It’s in situations like that that you have to separate the player from the agent. [Pryor] doesn’t have control; I don’t have control over those things that get said. It’s really, in my book, it’s really nothing. It’s one person’s opinion.”

Stanley may very well have burned his bridges with Oakland in terms of acting as Pryor’s agent so it was time for him to go. Especially if Pryor does indeed have a future with the Raiders.

Because if Pryor does not see himself in Oakland for the long term -- Allen said Matt McGloin proved himself as such but said no such definitive statement about Pryor -- having Stanley represent him would not have mattered much in the long run.

Maybe Pryor simply wants nothing to do with an agent who put him in an untenable position.

“At first it was awkward, you know, because that’s my head coach,” Pryor said at the time of the tempest caused by Stanley. “Me and Coach Allen talked and he understands what went on and we’re on the same page.”
Kaepernick-WilsonGetty Images49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will square off for the third time this season.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- When the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks meet Sunday for the NFC title, it will mark the 18th time since the AFL/NFL merger of 1970 that teams from the same division play in a conference championship game.

But it’s only happened four times since 2002, when the Seahawks moved from the AFC West to the NFC West as part of the league’s realignment. This year marks No. 5.

Still, when the Raiders were a mainstay of the AFC title game – they played in eight such games between 1970 and 1983 – they faced a team from their division, the AFC West, a mere one step away from the Super Bowl three times.

It’s interesting to note that all three of those meetings would have happened in the divisional round today because, from 1970 through 1989, two teams from the same division could not meet in the playoffs until the conference title game.

A look, then, at those three meetings ...

Jan. 1, 1978, Mile High Stadium

Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 17

The defending champion Raiders were the AFC’s lone wild-card team at 11-3 – in those days, only the then-three division winners and the second-place team with the best record qualified for the playoffs – and were coming in off their breathtaking “Ghost to the Post” double-overtime divisional playoff win at the Baltimore Colts, 37-31.

The top-seeded Broncos, in the heyday of their “Orange Crush” defense, had gone 12-2 with one of their losses at home to the Raiders – the teams split the regular-season series, each winning on the road – and had just handled the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round, 34-21.

The Broncos, who allowed an AFC-low 148 points, never trailed the Raiders, who led the NFL in scoring with 351 points, and led by scores of 14-3 and 20-10. But the Raiders, appearing in their fifth straight AFC title game, remember it for a play that never happened. At least, from the officials’ perspective.

“(Rob) Lytle’s fumble?” the late Al Davis told NFL Films. “No one saw it, so they said.”

Leading 7-3 midway through the third quarter, the Broncos set up at the Raiders’ 2-yard line and had a first-and-goal when Lytle ran into the pile and was hit by Jack Tatum. The ball popped out, Mike McCoy scooped it up and was off to the races for the game-changing touchdown. Except ...

Lytle was ruled down, the officials explained, saying that his forward progress had been stopped before the ball came free. Replays showed otherwise and then Art McNally, the former head of NFL officials, came clean to NFL Films, albeit, a decade later.

“It was a fumble,” he said, “and we were wrong on the call.”

Too little, too late for the Raiders as Jon Keyworth punched it in for Denver one play later and the Broncos led, 14-3, en route to the victory and Super Bowl XII, where they were thumped by the Dallas Cowboys, 27-10.

It was John Madden’s final playoff game as he retired a year later and Oakland would not return to the postseason until 1980.

Jan. 11, 1981, Jack Murphy Stadium

Oakland Raiders 34, San Diego Chargers 27

Five AFC teams finished 11-5 in 1980, the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Oilers, the Chargers and the Raiders.

A second wild-card team had been added to the playoff mix two years earlier and the Raiders were the top-seeded wild card. First they beat a familiar face in Kenny Stabler and the Oilers, 27-7, in the conference’s wild-card game, then they traveled to Cleveland, where the wind chill was minus-36 degrees, and upset the Browns, 14-12, in the “Red Right 88” game when Mike Davis picked off Brian Sipe in the end zone with less than a minute to play.

The Chargers, meanwhile, were the AFC’s top seed due to a better conference record than Cleveland and Buffalo and won the West over the Raiders, with whom they split the regular-season games as each team won at home, based on better net points in division games. San Diego beat the Bills, 20-14, in its first playoff game.

Oakland began the season just 2-3 and recently acquired quarterback Dan Pastorini was lost in Game 5 with a broken leg. Enter Jim Plunkett and his Lazarus act. Under Plunkett, the Raiders had won 11 of 13 games, including the playoffs, and started hot again against the high-scoring Air Coryell Chargers as Oakland opened up a 28-7 first-half lead.

San Diego woke up with 17 unanswered points , creeping to within 28-24 in the third quarter.

“Ted Hendricks grabs me by the jersey and he starts shaking me and says, ‘Keep scoring. We can’t stop them,’” Plunkett told NFL Network.

A pair of Chris Bahr field goals gave the Raiders some breathing room before Rolf Benirschke’s field goal made it a one-score game with less than seven minutes to play.

The Raiders' offense did not heed Hendricks’ advice this time; it simply ran out the clock on a 15-play drive that included 14 runs and four first downs.

“That game in the end, when all was said and done, came down to our offensive line and Mark van Eeghen,” Matt Millen, then a rookie linebacker, told NFL Network.

The iconic image of the game, then, is of left guard Gene Upshaw’s heavily padded right arm holding the game ball aloft as he exited the field. The Raiders went on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV as Plunkett was named the game’s MVP and Tom Flores became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl.

Jan. 8, 1984, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles Raiders 30, Seattle Seahawks 14

The 1983 Raiders are considered one of the best teams of all time and yet, they lost four games that season – one at Washington, in which an injured Marcus Allen did not play, a head-scratcher at home in the penultimate week of the season to the St. Louis Cardinals and two to, yes, the Seahawks.

Indeed, all you NFL newbies, the Raiders were in L.A. from 1982 through 1994 and the Seahawks used to live in the AFC West (from 1977-2001) and they were even a little chippy and, yes, lippy back then.

“Seattle knew us so well,” Allen told NFL Network. “It’s no secret, I mean they even knew our plays. I looked across the line of scrimmage at Kenny Easley, I shook my head, I said, ‘I’m coming right there.’ I think he shook his head back and said, ‘OK.’”

The Seahawks had swept the Raiders that year by scores of 38-36 in Seattle and 34-21 in L.A. over a three-week period. The sweep got the Seahawks into the playoffs as the top wild-card team at 9-7 and they beat rookie John Elway and the Broncos, 31-7, in the wild-card game at Seattle before upsetting another ballyhooed first-year QB in the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino, 27-20, at the Orange Bowl.

The top-seeded Raiders had just thumped the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-10, before a crowd of 92,434 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and awaited the Seahawks.

“We had lost to Seattle twice,” Howie Long told NFL Network. “We took that as we had gotten our ass kicked and it was time for redemption.”

It was an alley fight of a game and the Raiders, who led the AFC with 442 points scored, dominated Seattle, the conference’s second-highest scoring team with 403 points. L.A. jumped out to a 27-0 lead as Allen, playing with a mouse under his right eye, finished with 216 yards from scrimmage, with 154 yards rushing on 25 carries and 62 yards receiving and a TD on seven catches.

“All I remember was coming out with a black eye and seeing stars,” Allen said. “But I wasn’t going [to stay] out of the game.”

L.A.’s defense picked off five passes from Seahawks quarterbacks Dave Krieg and Jim Zorn, with two interceptions from Mike Davis, and the Raiders also had five sacks, two by rookie Greg Townsend.

The Raiders then went to Tampa Bay for Super Bowl XVIII and beat defending champion Washington, 38-9, with Allen winning MVP honors on the strength of a then-record 191 rushing yards on 20 carries, including his reverse-field 74-yard touchdown run.

It is still the Raiders’ most recent Super Bowl title.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Now that it's been established publicly that coach Dennis Allen will return for his third year as the Oakland Raiders' head coach in 2014, you have to wonder what, if any, effect that will have on free-agent targets this offseason.

Especially with the Raiders primed to open the bidding with some $60 million in salary-cap space when free agency begins on March 11.

Because in the past, when the cap meant next to nothing to Al Davis, the draw to the Raiders for free agents (besides being handsomely paid) was the mystique of the franchise in general, the aura of the iconic Davis in particular.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Dennis Allen
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsWhy should free agents go to Oakland? "Because they have an opportunity to be a part of building something special," Dennis Allen said.
Now? What, exactly, will be the draw?

“Because they have an opportunity to be a part of building something special,” Allen said in his end-of-year media conference last week.

“That's the belief that we have and hopefully that's something that we can convince these free agents that are out there. We believe that we can build something special here. That's what we get up every day with the anticipation of doing. That's what brings us back to work every day. We're not ever going to stop doing that. We'll be able to find guys that we feel like can come in, fit in and be part of what we're trying to build here.”

But how will the notion that Allen is on a short leash and his staff will most likely be on one-year deals factor into free agents' thinking?

Let's check back in on that one once free agency begins.

Meanwhile, the Raiders themselves are scheduled to have 17 unrestricted free agents and need to initially address the likes of left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, running back Rashad Jennings and, potentially, cornerback Tracy Porter.

Still, there is a young nucleus, primarily made of up undrafted players, in place. Granted, for a team coming off consecutive 4-12 seasons and having lost eight of its last nine games in each of Allen's first two years.

So I asked Allen if there were already building blocks in place.

“I think some of the building blocks are in place,” he said. “I don't think we have everything that we need. There's some other pieces to the puzzle that we need. Obviously some of that will come through the draft. Obviously some of that will come through free agency.

“But yeah I believe there's some building blocks in place.”

Blocks that need veteran pieces, through free agency, particularly on both the offensive and defensive lines. A prototypical edge rusher, perhaps?

“I think this is a team, when you look at some of the young players that have improved on this football team, I think this is a team that's going to improve,” Allen said. “I think as some of these young players continue to develop and we're able to add a few pieces to the puzzle, along with some of the guys that we have, to me I look at it as this is the beginning. This is the beginning of being able to build and create the things that we want to create here.

“I'm not looking at this as the end; I'm looking at this as the start, as the beginning, and this is where we have an opportunity to really create here. This is where we should be judged. We should be judged on this point moving forward.”

Double Coverage: Raiders at Cowboys

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
7:00
PM ET
Romo-RoachAP PhotoTony Romo's Cowboys host Nick Roach and the Raiders in a Thanksgiving Day duel.
IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in five years, the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders meet on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys won the 2009 matchup 24-7 with Tony Romo throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns and Miles Austin catching seven passes for 145 yards. Since that game Austin has had more yards in a game just twice.

ESPN.com's Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer bring you this week's holiday version of Double Coverage.

Todd Archer: The Cowboys are bad in most areas defensively, but they have given up 200 yards rushing in three games this season. The Raiders' strength, from afar, seems to be their running game. What makes it so good and how has it differed with Terrelle Pryor out?

Paul Gutierrez: Hey, Todd, it's not just Pryor being out, but also Darren McFadden, who has missed three straight games and four overall with a strained right hamstring. He said Monday night he hopes to play after practicing (limited) for the first time since Nov. 1. The run game, though, has not missed a beat with underrated Rashad Jennings picking up the slack. In the past four games, he has run for 413 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In fact, the running game has been so surprisingly solid without McFadden and Pryor that the play-action pass game has picked up with undrafted rookie Matt McGloin under center.

Speaking of passing games ... no doubt Tony Romo can rack up stats, but has he decided to assume more of a leadership role yet as the QB of America's Team, or is that just not in his makeup?

Archer: He has developed over the years as a leader, but there's no question that this has been "his" team the past three seasons. He is the veteran. He is the guy the Cowboys look to. The guys on this team now don't know of the Romo who burst on the scene in 2006 or had to deal with the Terrell Owens stuff. He's the guy who led the lockout practices and has been the big voice in the room. This year he has been given the added responsibility of being more involved in the game plan. The Cowboys' past two wins have come on last-minute drives led by Romo to beat Minnesota and the New York Giants. I don't think there's anybody questioning his leadership anymore. And if they did, well, the $106 million extension Jerry Jones gave him in the offseason should be more than enough proof to those guys that this is Romo's team.

Let's stick with the quarterback theme. Before the Cowboys lucked into Romo, they ran through a ton of guys after Troy Aikman's departure. Is there any reason to believe McGloin or Pryor can be a solution or do the Raiders need to go after one of these guys in next April's draft?

Gutierrez: Well, the way I put it earlier in the season, before Pryor hit his purported ceiling and sprained his right knee, robbing him of his greatest strength (running) while accentuating his biggest weakness (passing), if Pryor was not the Raiders' Mr. Right, he was their Mr. Right Now. McGloin is a pure quarterback, a pocket passer whom Dennis Allen prefers for what he wants to accomplish offensively. It's hard to give Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie much credit for their evaluation of QBs, though, what with their misses on Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson, not caring much for Pryor early on and then, similar to the Cowboys with Romo, stumbling upon McGloin. But it's hard to see them going all in with the undrafted rookie from Penn State, too. At least hard at the moment. Unless McGloin continues to improve and wins a few games, it would behoove the Raiders to draft another QB if they see one as a can't-miss prospect. I know, I know, they really wanted USC's Matt Barkley but Philadelphia traded in front of them so they traded back and selected Wilson. Oops. There is no doubt, though, that this Raiders regime prefers McGloin as a prototypical QB over the more electric Pryor.

No matter who is under center for Oakland, though, the Raiders' QB is going to have to keep an eye on DeMarcus Ware. Is he rounding back into shape as a dominant pass-rusher, or is he more decoy as he rehabs from his quad strain?

Archer: I think he's still feeling his way through it. The fact that he made it through the Giants game healthy was a plus. He has been dinged up in just about every game with stinger and back strains earlier in the season before the quadriceps injury. We'll see how he fares on a short week, but the defense is a lot better with even the threat of Ware on the field. Jason Hatcher had two sacks against the Giants at least in part because of the attention Ware received. Ware has talked about wanting to make up for lost time. He has five sacks so far, his fewest this late in a season since his rookie year in 2005. Thursday would be a good time to look like the DeMarcus Ware of old.

This game is a homecoming of sorts for guys like Mike Jenkins, Andre Gurode, Kevin Burnett and Tony Sparano, but it's a real homecoming for Dennis Allen. How is he perceived in Oakland and will McKenzie be more patient with him than, say, Al Davis would have been?

Gutierrez: The jury, so to speak, is still out on Allen in the streets of Silver and Blackdom. Of course, when the Raiders win a game, he's the man. When he loses, the fans turn on him and start pining for Jon Gruden ... again. But isn't that the nature of the beast? Even Allen himself said this was a results-oriented business. Of course, he was referring to the quarterback position at the time, but it still applies. Make no mistake about it, Allen is McKenzie's "guy" and he's going to roll with him and have patience with him. The plan coming in was to give Allen at least three years to right this ship and really, the only thing that could damage Allen's chances of lasting another year would be if the team quit on him, like it did last November before playing hard again at the end. Then again, it might not be McKenzie's choice. Owner Mark Davis is a more patient owner than his father and wants McKenzie to handle all football-related decisions. But a year after stating he was fine with just about anything but regression, Davis wants progress. Stagnancy won't cut it, either. So, stay tuned.

Sticking with the coaching theme, is Jason Garrett in Jerry World for the long haul, or was Jerry Jones' support merely the dreaded vote of confidence?

Archer: Jerry has publicly backed Garrett, but he's also been a guy who's said, "Just because I say something, doesn't mean it's true." I do know this: He wants Garrett to be the guy. He desperately wants it to work. I really believe that. He believes in Garrett's approach and how he builds a team. Garrett will provide some blow-back to Jerry but not as much as, say, a Bill Parcells. Garrett knows what makes Jerry work and knows how to work around it to a degree or push Jerry in a certain direction. Honestly, Cowboys fans should want the Garrett deal to work out because it might be the best combination to mitigate the bad parts of Jerry and keep the good parts of Jerry.

Raiders avoid blackout vs. Titans

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
3:33
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are now six-for-six in sellouts this season as the team announced Friday, a day after receiving an extension, that Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans had sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.

The Raiders (4-6) have sold out eight straight home games and 21 of their past 22 with this sellout against the Titans (4-6) as both teams currently occupy the No. 8 and 9 seeds in the six-team playoff field.

It will be undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin’s regular-season debut at home, and former Raiders running back Bo Jackson will light the Al Davis Torch.

With this game, the Raiders will have televised locally 70 home games, with 80 blackouts, since returning to Oakland in 1995 after 13 seasons in Los Angeles. And since taking over ticket sales in 2006, they have sold out 41 of 62 home games.

The Raiders reduced the O.co Coliseum capacity by about 11,000 seats this season by tarping off the top of Mt. Davis and four other sections in the original bowl of the stadium.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider