Oakland Raiders: Sebastian Janikowski

NAPA, Calif. – The moment Shane Lechler left the Oakland Raiders for the Houston Texans last year, long snapper Jon Condo knew Sebastian Janikowski would have a “down” season.

Even if he was coming off his best season.

The only holder Janikowski had known since entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2000 was headed to the Houston Texans, and the place-kicker known as "SeaBass" had not handled change well in his career. As least, that’s what Condo found.

[+] EnlargeSebastian Janikowski, Marquette King
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsSebastian Janikowski and Marquette King are developing better chemistry after a rocky 2013.
Condo took note that in two of Janikowski’s worst field-goal kicking seasons in terms of misses, the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer dealt with foreign territory. Janikowski missed 10 field-goal attempts in his rookie season and nine in 2007, Condo’s first year as the long snapper.

So with his security blanket gone to Houston and a newbie taking over Lechler’s holding duties in Marquette King, it made sense that Janikowski would struggle again.

Indeed, a year after converting a career-high 91.2 percent (31 of 34, with misses coming from 51, 61 and 64 yards), Janikowski missed nine field-goal attempts in 2013.

“Bass, he’s mentally tough and all that,” Condo said, “but it’s a comfort thing and it’s a trust thing.”

Janikowski, who signed a four-year contract extension last summer, still has one of the strongest legs in the NFL, and much of the blame last season fell on King, who grew weary of the talk. Even a few weeks back, on the day the Raiders reported to training camp, King said he could “not really remember” when asked about the purported issues between himself and Janikowski.

Janikowski made just 70 percent (21 of 30) of his field goals in his first year with King as his holder after converting 89.9 percent (62 of 69) in his previous two seasons with Lechler holding. The left-footed Janikowski even missed two attempts from inside 40 yards last season, a distance from which he had only missed one kick since 2007.

The way Condo put it, all it would take to send his kicker down a doubtful path would be just one bad hold from King. Even if everything else went perfect the rest of the game.

Condo’s advice? “Trust yourself,” he said was his counsel to Janikowski. “Trust your steps.”

To the surprise of many at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, Janikowski showed up two months early this offseason to get in extra work with King. Two weeks into training camp, and before the Raiders’ exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night, the two seem to be connecting.

“Timing,” Janikowski told Associated Press, when asked what the issue was with King in 2013. “Our timing was off. Marquette, me and Condo, we hadn’t worked much … just timing, the confidence. Just the trust.

“You stay with the same guy for (13) years, the trust is there. You don’t have to think about it going on the field.”

And now?

“It’s much better,” Janikowski said. “Marquette’s been working his (behind) off. He’s holding every day -- 50, 100 times -- so hopefully it shows up on the field.”

New assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol, himself a former NFL kicker, has helped bridge the gap between kicker and holder.

“Chris has a way of being able to relate to those guys and talk to them on a level where they can understand what he’s trying to get accomplished,” said coach Dennis Allen. “To (Janikowski’s) credit, he’s taken to all of that and done everything that we’ve asked him to do.”

Janikowski, 36, also holds personal goals.

He is within striking distance of the NFL record for most field goals of at least 50 yards -- Jason Hanson had 52 for the Detroit Lions from 1992 through 2012; Janikowski has 45.

And after tying the record for longest field goal with that 63-yarder in Denver in 2011, the Broncos’ Matt Prater booted a 64-yarder last season to set a new standard.

“It’s a challenge,” Janikowski said.

Though maybe not as challenging as King attempting to truly break into the inner sanctum of Janikowski, who has twin girls, and Condo, who became a father seven months ago.

“Hey, you want to hang out?” Condo said he told King. “You’ve got to have a kid.”

The 25-year-old King’s response, per Condo: “What if I just got a dog?”

Condo laughed.

“The relationship is starting to develop a little bit,” he said. “The trust factor, so far in camp, we have a good rhythm going right now.”
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."
The first round of the NFL draft is 10 days away and the Oakland Raiders, after finishing 4-12 last season, hold the No. 5 overall pick, as well as selections in the second (No. 36 overall), third (67) and fourth (107) rounds, plus three picks in the seventh round (219, 235 and 247).

Let's begin our dual countdown, then, of the top 5 and bottom 5 Raiders draft picks since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, with an honorable mention list of best picks (we'll get our dishonorable mentions going later this afternoon)…

Top Raiders Draft Picks Since 1970 (honorable mention)

CB Lester Hayes -- a fifth-round pick, No. 126 overall, out of Texas A&M in 1977, the converted safety became the epitome of a physical bump-and-run cornerback. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, the 1980 defensive player of the year with 13 interceptions and helped the Raiders win a pair of Super Bowls.

LB Rod Martin -- a 12th-round pick, No. 317 overall, out of USC in 1977, he came up huge for the Raiders in Super Bowl XV (three interceptions and a fumble recovery) and Super Bowl XVIII (a sack, a fumble recovery and a stop of John Riggins on 4th and 1). Martin was a two-time Pro Bowler.

LB Matt Millen -- a second-rounder, No. 43 overall out of Penn State, in 1980, he started in the middle as a rookie for the SB XV champs and picked up another ring three years later leading the Raiders defense. He would later win two more rings with the San Francisco 49ers and Washington.

RB Bo Jackson -- a seventh-round pick, No. 183 overall, out of Auburn in 1987, he was actually the No. 1 overall pick of Tampa Bay the year before as the Heisman Trophy winner but chose baseball over football. The NFL became his “hobby” and for four star-crossed seasons Jackson electrified the Raiders, until a hip injury ended his career.

WR Tim Brown -- a first-rounder, No. 6 overall, as the Heisman Trophy winner out of Notre Dame in 1988, he went on to become the Raiders' all-time leading receiver with 1,070 catches for 14,734 yards and 99 TDs. Brown, a five-time Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, was also a prolific punt and kick returner but never won a Super Bowl ring.

DB Charles Woodson -- a first rounder, No, 4 overall, as the Heisman Trophy winner out of Michigan in 1998, he had Hall of Fame talent in his first tour of duty with the Raiders but became a Hall of Famer in Green Bay. His return to Oakland in 2013 was celebrated as the prodigal son coming home.

PK Sebastian Janikowski -- a somewhat shocking first-rounder, No. 17 overall, out of Florida State in 2000, the man known as SeaBass overcame his early wild child ways to become not only the Raiders' most dependable weapon, but the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 1,489 career points currently.

A look at Raiders' top cap figures

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
For the first time since Reggie McKenzie became the Oakland Raiders' general manager two years ago, he does not have to spend his offseason figuring out which players to cut, how to slash salary cap numbers to get under the salary cap.

Indeed, in past years, the fact that two guys no longer with the team would account for more than $8.8 million in dead money would cause much handwringing. But the financial footprints left by Michael Huff ($6,208,750) and McKenzie acquisition Matt Flynn ($2,625,000) are palatable with Oakland boasting more than $61.7 million in cap space, per overthecap.com.

McKenzie need not go through any couch cushions to find spare change to re-sign those of his 18 unrestricted free agents he deems worthy, or make runs at front-line free agents on the market. But it is interesting to see which players currently under contract boast the largest cap numbers for 2014.

Tyvon Branch ($7.157 million) -- the strong safety appeared in all of two games a year ago, breaking his lower right leg in the first quarter of the Raiders' home opener. He attempted a late-season comeback but could not get right and was placed on injured reserve before appearing in another game.

Mike Brisiel ($5.310 million) -- a potential cut? The right guard was a warrior in 2013, albeit a wounded one. Tony Bergstrom, McKenzie's first-ever draft pick, beating out Brisiel would not necessarily be a bad thing for the future of the franchise.

Kevin Burnett ($4.142 million) -- Veteran presence in the linebacker corps, a potential place to save money ... if the Raiders needed to save money.

Marcel Reece ($3.980 milion) -- The face of the franchise's future, an absolute bargain for a two-time Pro Bowl fullback.

Nick Roach ($3.771 million) -- Played every defensive snap in his first year as a Raider, team defensive MVP, made fans forget about Rolando What's His Name.

Sebastian Janikowski ($3.060 million) -- Highest-paid kicker in the game has a lot to prove after struggling with nine missed field goals in his first season with new contract.

-financial figures from overthecap.com
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen has completed his staff with the addition of four assistants, the team officially announced Thursday.

Earlier in the week the Raiders confirmed the hiring of Joe Woods as defensive backs coach. Marcus Robertson will join Woods as the assistant DB coach as they replace Johnnie Lynn and Clayton Lopez. The Raiders last season had franchise worsts in touchdown passes allowed in a season (33) and passer rating against (105.1).

Also, former Dallas Cowboys placekicker Chris Boniol replaces Keith Burns as assistant special-teams coach under Bobby April. Sebastian Janikowski is coming off a season in which he missed nine field goals and his 70 percent conversion rate was the third worst of his career. Boniol was the Cowboys’ assistant special-teams coach the past four years.

Lastly, Vernon Stephens was named assistant strength and conditioning coach after John Grieco was promoted with the retirement of Al Miller. Stephens spent the past four years as the San Diego Chargers’ assistant strength and conditioning coach.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- As we continue with our 10 Plays That Defined the Oakland Raiders' Season series, and in chronological order, we look at the season opener…

Sept. 8, at Indianapolis: Sebastian Janikowski misses a 48-yard field goal at the end of first half.

Now, to the average leg, a 48-yarder is no sure thing. But for the richest, most powerful gam in the game, it's as close to a done deal as you can get. Or have you not heard his teammates refer to Janikowski as “Automatic SeaBass” over the years?

The rebuilt Raiders were within 14-7 of the host Colts as they drove to the Indianapolis 30-yard line late in the second quarter and coach Dennis Allen allowed the clock to run down to four seconds before calling timeout. Onto the field trotted Janikowski, who had made 36 of his previous 39 field goals, with his only misses coming from 51, 61 and 64 yards.

Something was different, though. For the first time in his NFL career -- Janikowski was Al Davis' polarizing first-round draft pick in 2000 -- he had a new holder. Marquette King had replaced Shane Lechler, who left as a free agent for the Houston Texans, and the relationship between kicker and holder became a major storyline throughout the season.

As would the left-footed Janikowski's issues from the left hash mark. In fact, his first six misses came from the left hash. And this is where he was on this play at Lucas Oil Field.

Janikowski was wide left as the first half ended as the Raiders walked off the field in a fog, and it would prove costly later in the game. On their final drive, the Raiders were within 21-17 and needed a touchdown as they got to the Indianapolis 8-yard line with less than two minutes to play. But Terrelle Pryor took a 16-yard sack and threw an incompletion before being picked off by Antoine Bethea with 25 seconds left to essentially end the game.

Had Janikowski been successful before the half, the Raiders would have merely needed a 26-yard chip shot field goal to win the game.

Janikowski's issues continued throughout the season as he missed key early field goals in losses to Washington, Kansas City and Tennessee, and his nine misses on the year were more than the seven he missed the previous two seasons combined.

And his 70-percent make mark was the third-lowest of his career.

Check back Friday for Play No. 3 ...

Dissecting the 'Pryor Package'

December, 13, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson shed a little bit more light Thursday on the thought process that went into the team's decision to play Terrelle Pryor for just one series in the team's loss at the New York Jets last weekend.

Basically, with three tailbacks inactive due to injury in Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart, and Pryor -- a running quarterback -- practicing without a brace on his right knee for the first time in a month, it was scripted in the game plan to get Pryor in for the Raiders' third offensive series, no matter the score at the time, and then put Matt McGloin back in.

"There was probably a good chance (the Jets) hadn't been practicing the arc option series that we had shown earlier, because we hadn't done it the last few weeks," Olson said.

"We were going to try and cheat and find a way to get some explosive plays."

And while Pryor did jumpstart the offense by leading a 14-play, 58-yard drive that culminated with a 41-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal -- after Janikowski missed a 52-yarder a series earlier -- those "explosive" plays were not involved.

Which made the decision to go back to McGloin easier.

But when McGloin threw an interception from his own end zone on his next series and then went three-and-out before Marquette King's punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown and the Raiders trailed 20-3, there was a thought of replacing McGloin with Pryor again in the second half.

But just for another possession, here or there.

And for what it's worth, McGloin said he did not find any benefit in sitting out a series.

"No, I don't think so," he said this week. "Any time you're in or out it's kind of tough, but it's still not an excuse."

McGloin was also asked if it made it easier to deal with, then, knowing in advance he would be coming out for a series.

"It was part of the game plan," he said. "We're trying to do what's best for the team. Everybody thought that was going to help us, it was going to get us some momentum, and we didn't think (the Jets) were going to be prepared for it so we tried to throw them off balance.

"Like I said, it was a game plan thing and at the end of the day we all want to win and I'll do whatever it takes, the guys on the team will do whatever it takes, the coaching staff will do whatever it takes, to make sure we're put in the best position to win."

McGloin settled in after halftime and led the Raiders offense to four scores. The threat of Pryor running was not needed again, not with Oakland playing catch up against the Jets all day.

Would the Raiders unveil the "Terrelle Pryor Package" again Sunday against Kansas City?

Olson was playing coy, as he should. Besides, half of the battle is to keep opponents guessing, right?

"I won't give that away," he said to laughter. "The one thing that comes out of it, obviously, is (foes are) going to have to prepare for it. I said it's not an easy way to do it, not a lot of teams have done it or see it in the NFL, but when we're in the situation we're at, we were looking for playmakers on that particular day.

"With where we were at, we felt like it might be something that we need and we also know that the three remaining opponents that we have, whether we do it or not, are going to have to prepare for it."

Upon Further Review: Raiders Week 14

December, 9, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An examination of four hot issues from the Oakland Raiders' 37-27 loss to the New York Jets:

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesTerrelle Pryor helped get the Raiders on the board with a 14-play drive that resulted in a field goal.
One more time again: Sure, we hit this hard in the aftermath of the game, but it's such a tongue-wagger, it deserves more discussion. Terrelle Pryor replacing Matt McGloin at quarterback for the Raiders' third possession of the game was part of the game plan. And no, McGloin was not thrilled with it, even if he knew it was coming. But here's where it got sticky: Pryor moved the offense, racking up five first downs in driving Oakland downfield for the Raiders' first points of the game on a Sebastian Janikowski field goal, and he did it after McGloin stalled. And yet coach Dennis Allen said there was no thought of going back to Pryor later, because McGloin found a rhythm. Get it? But what if Allen had been so impressed with Pryor he had left him in?

More SeaBass issues: We already knew that Janikowski was enduring his roughest season kicking field goals since 2005 -- his 2013 percentage was 11 points below his career percentage entering the season -- but he again had a costly miss on which the game turned. The left-footed Janikowski pulled his 52-yarder wide right in the first quarter from the right hashmark, his second miss from the right side this season. It essentially negated Kevin Burnett's interception and, helped with a short field, the Jets scored a touchdown three plays later for a 10-0 lead. "Those are momentum builders," Allen said, "and momentum killers. We thought field position in this game was going to be a critical factor." Janikowski has now missed eight field goal attempts this season, after missing seven the previous two seasons combined. His current season field goal percentage of 69.2 would be the third-lowest of his career (68.8 in 2000 and 66.7 in 2005).

Injuries: Three players did not finish the game for the Raiders: rookie linebacker Sio Moore (neck), defensive tackle Vance Walker (concussion) and rookie tight end Nick Kasa (concussion). Plus, the Raiders were already without three running backs in Rashad Jennings (concussion), Darren McFadden (ankle) and Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee). Jennings took part in limited practice all week but never passed the NFL's concussion protocol. "It was kind of apparent yesterday that he wasn't going to be cleared to play," Allen said. "But it was official this morning."

Of explosive plays XIII: And now for our weekly tracking of "explosive" plays. As deemed by Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air or 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had eight such plays against the Jets: five passes and three runs, with a touchdown each way. New York had seven explosive plays: five passes and two runs, also with a touchdown each way. In 13 games, the Raiders have 94 explosive plays (67 passes, 27 runs), with eight passing TDs and four running scores. Oakland's opponents, meanwhile, now have 91 explosive plays combined, 71 passes (eight TDs) and 20 runs (two TDs).
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Marcel Reece, the Pro Bowl fullback for the Oakland Raiders, rumbled for a career-high 123 yards rushing, including a career-long 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter Sunday. He also caught two passes for 38 yards.

And while Reece was playing tailback out of necessity and making his first start there this season because of injuries to Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart, it raises the question: Is Reece a special player in the NFL, or simply a very good one on a bad team?

Then there’s this: Whatever the answer to the above, why has it taken the Raiders so long to figure it out and make him a feature of this offense?

[+] EnlargeMarcel Reece
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesFilling in at tailback, Marcel Reece rushed for a career-high 123 yards, including a 63-yard TD.
For a 4-9 team slipping backward after a 37-27 loss to the New York Jets, there are always more questions than answers. And as far as Reece is concerned, he’d turn in those gaudy individual stats for a team victory.

“If we lose,” Reece said, “it’s irrelevant. We worked too hard to have the outcome be like this. We need ‘W’s.’ This game is about winning. It’s about production. Stats don’t matter. The numbers don’t matter unless you win, and we didn’t do it.”

But it was not for a lack of Reece.

The “matchup nightmare” who was a wide receiver in college, also had a big game starting at tailback in place of the injured McFadden last season, albeit in blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, going for 103 yards on the ground and catching four passes for 90 yards.

Yet, Marcel Reece had been as silent as Marcel Marceau in the offense this season despite the front office thinking enough of him to sign him to a three-year contract extension in September. In the Raiders’ previous four games, Reece had a total of 20 touches. Sunday, he had 21 (19 carries and two receptions on five targets).

“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” said rookie quarterback Matt McGloin. “He does what we ask of him. He busts his tail day in and day out. He catches the ball well, runs the ball well, blocks well. He’s an all-around guy, a great guy and a great player and we’re lucky to have him [as] part of this organization.”

Especially when his deceptive speed was on display in outrunning the Jets’ secondary on a power run up the gut.

“It was a routine run,” Reece claimed. “The O-line stepped up and did a great job and made my job easy.”

The touchdown, the longest run against the Jets’ top-ranked rush defense this season, got the Raiders to within 20-10 on the second play of the second half. Things were looking up.

Oakland’s defense, though, could not hold up, and the offense and special teams – Sebastian Janikowski missed another field-goal try, this one from 52 yards, and the Jets took advantage of the short field to score a touchdown three plays later, and the Jets blocked a Marquette King punt for a TD – had just enough misfires to keep the game out of reach.

Reece could not put his finger on when the game flipped, though.

“If I could put a finger on it, he said, “I would have changed it.”

That task, invariably, falls to coach Dennis Allen.

“The big run was a huge run and a huge play in the football game,” Allen said. “I thought, overall, he did a nice job of running the football. I’ll have to go back and look and see exactly how well he played. But I thought, overall, he did a nice job.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but then again, as Reece said, it doesn’t matter much without a victory, right?
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marcel Reece scrunched up his nose a bit. Then the Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl fullback tilted his head to the side like a dog who just heard a high-pitched noise.

Reece had just been asked how the Raiders, with a trip to face the New York Jets on the horizon, could not let their 12-game losing streak in games played in the Eastern time zone get in their collective heads, let alone become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“That stat doesn’t mean anything,” Reece insisted. “I wouldn’t have known about it if you hadn’t told me. We’re not thinking about things like that.”

[+] EnlargeBruce Gradkowski
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicThe last time the Raiders won in the Eastern time zone? Dec. 6, 2009, when Oakland rallied for a victory at Pittsburgh behind 308 passing yards from Bruce Gradkowski.
OK, but the fact that the Raiders have not won a game three time zones away since Dec. 6, 2009, while getting outscored by a cumulative 379-198 in the process, has become an albatross, of sorts.

Even if, as Reece pointed out, there has been so much roster turnover since Bruce Gradkowski led that epic comeback at the Pittsburgh Steelers four years ago today that it means little to the current players.

Consider: Of the 53 players on the current roster, only four played in that game (strong safety Tyvon Branch, place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski, running back Darren McFadden and long-snapper Jon Condo) while a fifth (offensive lineman Khalif Barnes) was inactive.

Reece himself was still on the Raiders’ practice squad at the time and would not make his NFL debut for another three weeks.

“There have been so many changes since then,” Reece said. “In ’08 and ’09 it was like a revolving door.”

True, but seven of the 12 Eastern time zone losses have come in the past two seasons and the streak is the longest current one in the NFL, as well as a Raiders record.

And second-year coach Dennis Allen has the worst road winning percentage since the start of the 2012 season at .143 (2-12), with the Cleveland Browns creeping behind at .154 (2-11).

Then there’s this -- Oakland has not won in the Jets’ house since Oct. 6, 1996, when Joe Aska rushed for 136 yards, Jeff Hostetler threw three touchdown passes and Rickey Dudley caught a pair of TDs in a 34-13 victory.

Current Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin was not yet seven years old that day. He was a redshirt sophomore at Penn State when the Raiders last won in the Eastern time zone, some 140 miles away in Pittsburgh.

So how does the rookie think the Raiders combat their recent history of East Coast duress?

“We win Sunday, that’s how you do that,” McGloin said with a smile. “But no, it’s not a statistic we’re proud of. Any time you’re traveling across the country to play, it’ll be difficult. But for me, it’s exciting to go back East and play in the cold. The weather is going to be a nice change for me.

“That stat is something we’re aware of, and we’re keeping that in the back of our minds.”

Leave it to an undrafted rookie, then, to harken some George Santayana, who left this Earth before the Raiders were even born. You know the refrain about those who cannot remember the past being condemned to repeat it.

Janikowski: 'I want to redeem myself'

November, 26, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- How has Sebastian Janikowski attacked his sudden case of the yips on field-goal attempts?

By watching film. About 2 1/2 hours worth.

“I watched film from this year, every kick, and last year,” the 14-year pro, former first-round draft pick and highest-paid kicker in league history said Monday night. “It seems like my step, I'm off to the side, I'm too wide. My plant foot is way ahead. I'm just not finishing.

“I've still got five games left (to correct it).”

Janikowski missed two field goals in Sunday's 23-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans, a chip shot from 32 yards to end the first half and a 48-yarder in the third quarter. He also made four others, from 52, 48, 24 and 42 yards.

Still, it was his first multi-miss game since Sept. 26, 2010, and he has already missed as many field goals this season as he did the previous two years combined, seven.

And the left-footed kicker's first six misses this year were from the left hashmark.

“That's what everybody is talking about,” Janikowski said. “I don't care which hash it is. It's just like I said, I'm not finishing my kicks. I'm taking the steps the wrong way, I'm too wide.”

Many point to an unfamiliarity with a new holder in Marquette King after 13 years with Shane Lechler, and sideline radio reporter Lincoln Kennedy, a former teammate, said during the Titans game that Janikowski told him he did not like a hold on one of his misses.

“You'll have to talk to Marquette or the head coach about that,” Janikowski said.

King, though, was not available.

Said Allen: “I wouldn't necessarily say there's an issue (between them), but I would say that when we go out there to kick field goals, we've got to make field goals.”

Janikowski insisted there is no problem with King.

“There's no issue at all,” he said. “During the game, I just pushed it.

“Marquette did a great job all the way around. We're cool.”

And while a short week with a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys may not be all that inviting to the more “physical” players, it has its benefits for Janikowski ... and King.

“I wish I could play today, yeah,” he said. “I want to go out there and play Dallas right now. I want to redeem myself a little bit.”
OAKLAND -- There was an empty can of Copenhagen long cut sitting in his locker, along with a three-quarter-filled spit cup. A can of Red Bull energy drink was present, as well as a full bottle of water, an empty Gatorade bottle, a spoiled banana peel and another, unpeeled banana.

There was no Sebastian Janikowski, though. The items at his locker had nothing to say for their benefactor after he missed two field goals Sunday to run his season total of misses to seven in the Oakland Raiders' four-point loss to the Tennessee Titans, 23-19.

[+] EnlargeSebastian Janikowski
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsSebastian Janikowski has now missed seven field goals this season.
To be fair, Janikowski is rarely, if ever at his locker during media access periods. But to be true, it marked at least the third game this season the usually dependable Janikowski had misses that cost the Raiders dearly, along with the season opener at Indianapolis and the Matt Flynn game against Washington.

"We're not making them, not consistently enough," said coach Dennis Allen. "We have to continue to work to get better there. I feel like Sebastian is going to work through this. I still have all the confidence that when I send him out there that it's going to go through.

"So it's just something that we have to go through and we have to get better in that area."

Fair enough, but Allen has been saying the same things since the opener against the Colts. And 11 games in, it no longer seems prudent for Janikowski to blame an unfamiliarity with first-year holder Marquette King for his shortcomings.

Yet that's exactly what Janikowski did during a mid-game "interview" with radio sideline reporter, and former teammate, Lincoln Kennedy. Janikowski told Kennedy he did not like the hold on one of his misses.

Janikowski shanked a chip-shot 32-yard attempt toward the northern end zone to close the first half. All six misses on the season had come from the left hash mark. It was his second miss from fewer than 40 yards of the year after making 85-of-86 from that distance the previous five seasons combined.

Then, Janikowski's 48-yarder midway through the third quarter, in the same direction but from the right hash, went high over the left upright and was ruled wide left.

Janikowski glared at King and then pleaded his case with the officials, to no avail.

Only in Oakland would a placekicker's troubles garner front-page news. Then again, it was Al Davis who used a first-round draft pick on Janikowski in 2000 when Jon Gruden preferred running back Shaun Alexander or receiver Sylvester Morris.

And Janikowski, 35, has gone on to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer and signed a four-year extension worth as much as $19 million.

He's been the Raiders' most dangerous weapon in recent years … just not since his long-time holder, Shane Lechler, left this offseason for Houston.

And while his 52-yarder in the first quarter was his second-longest of the season, behind the 53-yarder he hit against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3, it also marked the first time since Nov. 26, 2010 he missed two field goals in a game.

It was the second time he had missed two since 2008.

Then there's this: Janikowski has missed as many field goals through 11 games this season (seven) as he did the previous two seasons combined.

Allen, though, was not about to throw all of the blame at the feet of Janikowski.

"I'd say it's a field-goal unit problem," Allen said. There's 11 guys out there; it's not all on one guy. We have to improve in that area -- snap, hold, kick, protection. The goal is to get the ball through the uprights, and there's 11 guys responsible for making sure that happens."

The last person to make contact with that ball, though, is Janikowski , and neither he nor the personal effects at his locker were talking.

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

November, 24, 2013

OAKLAND – A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 23-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: This loss falls on the foot of Sebastian Janikowski, period. The longtime placekicker missed two more field goals, including one from 32 yards. The Raiders blew a chance to jump into a tie for the sixth spot, and the second wild-card slot, in the AFC playoff race. The Raiders allowed 10 of 18 third-down conversions.

Stock watch: falling -- Janikowski. It's 11 games into the season, and it’s no longer viable to blame your kicking woes on an unfamiliarity with your holder, right? Right? Alas, that’s exactly what Janikowski did to radio sideline reporter, and former teammate, Lincoln Kennedy, telling him midgame he did not like the hold of Marquette King on one of his two misses. After missing from 32 yards and 48 yards, he has missed seven field goal attempts through 11 games this season. He has missed seven total field goals the previous two seasons. The 48-yard miss Sunday was his first miss from the right hash mark all season. Janikowski did make four other field goals -- from 52, 48, 24 and 42 yards. Misses earlier in the season against Indianapolis, Washington and Kansas City were especially costly.

McGloin McEfficient?: What the Raiders miss in a running threat under center with Terrelle Pryor sidelined they gain in a passing attack with undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin. No, the Raiders defense did not set him up twice at the opponent's 16-yard line, as they did last week in Houston. But McGloin was efficient in completing 18 of 31 passes for 254 yards. His 27-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Marcel Reece gave the Raiders a 19-16 lead with 6:10 to play. His second-quarter interception deep in their own territory did lead to a Tennessee field goal, though. And the 6-foot-1 McGloin did have four passes batted down at the line.

No stops left: The Raiders' defense simply ran out of gas and could not get off the field on the Titans’ game-winning drive, allowing Tennessee to go 80 yards in 14 plays. Tracy Porter was beaten in the slot by Kendall Wright on the 10-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal with 10 seconds to play.

What's next: The Raiders (4-7) have a short work week as they travel to Dallas to take on the 6-5 Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys beat the Raiders 24-7 on Thanksgiving in 2009 to end a three-game Oakland winning streak in the series. Oakland leads the all-time series 6-4.
As expected, the Oakland Raiders ruled running back Darren McFadden out of Sunday’s game at the New York Giants as he did not practice this week after reaggravating his right hamstring in last weekend’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

McFadden, who has never played more than 13 games in a season and will now have missed 15 of Oakland’s last 34 games, will be joined by rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden, the No. 12 overall draft pick who endured a rough game against the Eagles and strained his groin in practice Wednesday.

The two high-profile players were among six ruled out by Oakland on Friday, which means second-round pick Menelik Watson will start at right tackle and face Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. Phillip Adams will replace Hayden in the Raiders’ nickel defense.

Also, cornerback Tracy Porter practiced on a limited basis Friday with a shoulder injury after practicing without restrictions the previous two days. Place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski and receiver Andre Holmes practiced full after being limited on Thursday.

Here's the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), WR Juron Criner (right shoulder), CB D.J. Hayden (groin), RT Matt McCants (toe), RB Darren McFadden (right hamstring), RT Tony Pashos (hip).

Questionable: C/G Andre Gurode (quad), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs).

Probable: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), PK Sebastian Janikowski (ribs), CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), QB Terrelle Pryor (knee), WR Rod Streater (hip).
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have already ended one ignominious streak this season. By beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 27, Oakland won a game immediately after a bye week for the first time since 2002. Coach Dennis Allen said he made a point of addressing that streak with the team before the Steelers came to town.

Now? With Oakland playing at the New York Giants on Sunday, the Raiders have lost 11 straight games in the Eastern time zone -- by a combined score of 353-178.

Has Allen talked about this streak with his players?

“Not really,” he said. “I don’t like to build in a lot of excuses. Our job as professional football players, as coaches, [is] to go play wherever they tell us, whenever they tell us and just prepare just like it was any other game. Really the only difference is we’ll travel on Friday as opposed to Saturday so we can get acclimated to the time change and get acclimated to the situation. I think it’s tough to travel that far the day before a game.

“I want our guys to be able to be fresh and be ready to go. So I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about … the Eastern time zone, but we have talked about [the] need to go on the road and play well. That’s something that we’ve put a lot of focus on.”

The last time the Raiders played three time zones away they nearly upset the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener – Oakland was on the Indianapolis 8-yard line with less than two minutes to play – before losing 21-17.

But the last time the Raiders won a game in the Eastern time zone was Dec. 6, 2009, when Bruce Gradkowski led an epic comeback at Pittsburgh. Oakland’s troubles on the East Coast stretch back to the last time the Raiders had a winning season. Since losing at Miami on Dec. 15, 2002, Oakland is 5-28 in the Eastern time zone.

Plus, the last time the Raiders played at the Giants, they were blown out 44-7 on Oct. 11, 2009. Only six Raiders players remain from that year’s team – running back Darren McFadden, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, long-snapper Jon Condo, offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, strong safety Tyvon Branch and fullback Marcel Reece, who was on the practice squad at the time – while McFadden missed that first game with a knee injury and figures to miss this meeting as well with a right hamstring strain, as does Branch, with an ankle issue.

Allen said traveling a day early will be the only attempted adjustment the Raiders will make for their body clocks with a game kicking off at 10 a.m. PT.

“We’re up pretty early in the morning anyway,” he said. “We start our meetings at 7:20 in the morning and that’s part of the reason we do that is so that guys are used to getting up early and used to getting their body going and getting ready to go out and play a game.

“[It’s] something that we have to deal with, but we don’t need to let that be any type of distraction.”

Ending a certain 11-game losing streak would end that distraction.