Tar Takes S2E7: LeBron + Lakers playoffs, Amari Cooper traded, UNC Basketball 3rd best ACC team?

On this week’s episode we discuss LeBron James and the Lakers, the latest trades in the NFL and the Tar Heel’s outlook for basketball season which is just right around the corner.

Tar Takes with Ryan Lipton and David Matlock is presented by The JR Report and Relevnt!

Lakers are off to a rough start, so you think they can still make the playoffs? If so what seed?

Thoughts on Big NFL trades and rumors: Amari Cooper to Cowboys, Apple to Saints, etc.

After a tough 40-37 loss to Syracuse, what should Tar Heel fans look for going forward as UNC football finishes out the season?

UNC ranked No. 8 in AP Poll Duke #4, Virginia: Are the Tar Heels the third best team in the ACC?

Zion Williamson scored 29 points and 6 rebounds in an exhibition game: Should UNC fans be worried about Zion’s performance?

Photo Credit:

LeBron James – Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Amari Cooper – Getty Images

Syracuse UNC – Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Theo Pinson – Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson – Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons why Raider Nation should not panic

Raider Nation, Sunday night was very tough to watch. It was the first time Oakland Raiders’ fans got to see their team on Sunday Night Football on the road since October 15, 2006, when they lost to the Denver Broncos 13-3.

This time around against the Washington Redskins, the team came out flat looking like the Raiders of the last decade, the pre-Derek Carr Raiders.

However, fans should stay away from the panic button. A loss next Sunday might be worrisome, but here are three reasons why everyone in Oakland should stay calm for the time being.

Trump, then the Republican nominee, tours the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Sept. 14, 2016. (Photo via Reuters)

Trump made the Raiders bad again

This week might have been one of the most emotional weeks in recent NFL memory.

It was the first time the country could see how good the Silver and Black have become. Obviously, Oakland had been looking forward to this game in the nation’s capital for quite some time.

Moreover, it was a hectic week as soon as president Trump released his latest comments surrounding the NFL protests and players. It created a lot of controversies and encouraged the teams to protest the President’s words.

The Raiders should have and had every right to protest, however, it definitely took time away from focusing on the game and could have been mentally draining.

As such, the team played without a spark for the entire night.

Oakland usually plays with a certain edge, especially with running back Marshawn Lynch on the roster, making this game an anomaly as there will not be this much off the field emotion surrounding a game for a long time.

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Raiders safety Karl Joseph (Photo via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The defense played admirably

Yes, the defense gave up 27 points on Sunday night, but it could have been much worse.

If one said the Raiders were going to be outgained by 344 yards, have three turnovers and wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper would have just two receptions combined, one would think the team would have lost by over 30 points.

Instead, the defense held Washington to just 3.4 yards per carry in a game in which the unit was on the field for over 38 minutes and was constantly in a poor position.  So giving up 27 points is not bad.

The performance wasn’t great, but it showed that the defense is continuing to improve and is miles better than the defense from 2016, who would have given up at least 40 points if they were in a similar situation as Sunday night.

Cornerback Sean Smith still looked horrible covering tight end Vernon Davis. Once safety Obi Melifonwu returns from injury, Smith’s snaps will be very much limited as Melifonwu will be able to guard the tight ends and therefore improve the pass defense.

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Raiders QB Derek Carr vs. Washington on Sunday Night (Photo via AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

It was just an off night for Derek Carr

The game did confirm one thing that we should have already known, Oakland can’t win if quarterback Derek Carr has an off night.

Fortunately, Carr’s off nights come few and far between.

Also, bad nights happen to everyone. Even the unbeatable New England Patriots and QB Tom Brady stunk it up in front of a national stage on opening night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Carr still needs to improve on the national stage as the terrible performance against the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football from 2016 might be fresh in everyone’s mind. But until Carr and Co. put up another stinker, there is no reason to worry.

Remember, one time is an outlier. If it continues and becomes a trend, like a loss on Sunday to the Broncos, then it is time to get out the panic button. Maybe not press it, but at least have it around.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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3 takeaways after Raiders’ preseason loss to Cowboys

Photo via USA Today Sports Images

The Oakland Raiders lost Saturday night’s preseason game to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20.

Like many of Raider Nation would assume, there were many positives on offense, however, major concerns still remain on the defensive side of the football.

Here are The JR Report’s 3 takeaways from Week 3 of the Raiders’ preseason.

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Photo via Getty Images

Derek Carr…MVP

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns in just under a half of play against a Super Bowl contender. His first half included two magnificent pinpoint strikes to Raiders wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Amari Cooper. His incredible play was honestly sub-par for Carr as he started the game out of sync often over throwing his targets.

The former Bulldog had a nearly flawless game against the Rams adding two more touchdowns and 100 yards passing to his preseason statistics.

It seems that Carr hasn’t lost a step since his fibula injury and looks better than he was in 2016. Oakland offensive coordinator Todd Downing has decided to give Carr even greater control of the offense at the line of scrimmage and it looks like it will pay massive dividends.

The new additions of running back Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook provide a running back with elite vision and a big tight end target for Carr. Two things he has not had his entire NFL career.

As a result, the recent additions could help Oakland’s offense ascend to the top in the league. Honestly, it isn’t too far-fetched especially with New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman out for the year and the Atlanta Falcons subject to a Super Bowl hangover.

All in all, Carr is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and has shown everyone throughout the preseason why the Raiders missed him so much during Week 17 and the Wild Card playoffs last season.

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Photo via AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Run defense a pleasant surprise

Going into the third preseason game, it was paramount to see how the Oakland defense could handle Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and their high-powered offensive line.

It would be Oakland’s first big test for the young linebackers on the ground until the regular season kicks off. To Raider Nation’s surprise, the Raiders linebackers held Elliot to just 18 yards on six carries.

It is possible the story would have been different if the teams played a full game. Maybe Elliot would have worn down the Oakland defense and broken a few runs late, but the Raiders held him in check during the short opportunity.

It is still the preseason, so everything will be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, the Oakland defense showed that they could and have the potential to stop the run. They just need to figure out how to communicate and fill gaps on a consistent basis.

Remember, the Raiders defense was trending in the right direction before Carr got hurt. If they keep that trend the same, then the Oakland defense will be a completely different story in 2017.

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Aug 26, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) on the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback, tight ends continue to wreak havoc

While it was good to see the Raiders stop the run with their first team, they still struggled mightily to cover the tight end and stop Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott looked almost unstoppable at times going 11/14 for 113 yards and one touchdown. Moreover, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 74 yards and one score, all in less than a half of play.

Every season Oakland is letting tight ends slip down the seam for big gains. It was no different last night and will not be any different this season unless Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu has a splendid rookie season. He looked good in his limited time on Saturday, but a preseason game is much different from any live regular season action.

Also, it is hard to forget the Oakland defense made Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff look like an All-Pro, which is hard to do, for the former Cal Bear threw for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Raiders in limited time.

Hopefully, the return of Melifonwu and cornerback Gareon Conley will help suffocate tight ends and move cornerback Sean Smith into a smaller role with Conley taking more reps.

If both rookies can’t stay healthy, Oakland’s pass defense could be worrisome, especially against tight ends.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Raiders’ Mack, Cooper, Melifonwu, Conley still out of practice

Photo via AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, wide receiver Amari Cooper and safety Obi Melifonwu are not participating in Thursday’s practice, per NBC Bay Area’s Scott Bair.

Oakland’s No. 1 NFL draft selection in cornerback Gareon Conley is also still not participating in practices, per the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Michael Gelhken, and all of the players above are unlikely to suit up against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday.

Conley and Melifonwu’s continued absence is much more concerning than Mack and Cooper’s given that each is established players and already familiar with the system and their roles.


Read more on Raiders Wire!

Best Raiders Twitter follows for 2017 season

Photo Courtesy of Austin Murphy

The Oakland Raiders’ regular season is drawing near as the team gets set to play Aug. 12 against the Arizona Cardinals.

On this team, there are no shortage of fun, clever and big personalities to keep Raider Nation entertained.

As such, below fans can find some of the best follow the Raiders have to offer on Twitter below.


Read more on Raiders Wire!

Final Raiders 53-man roster projection before training camp

As NFL training camps begin to ramp up and with the Oakland Raiders’ less than one week away, 90 players become 53 in one fell swoop in 2017.

While it’s likely that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie still has a couple more moves up his sleeve before this roster is fully fleshed out, a final 53-man roster projection before camp seemed in order.

Photo via USA Sports Images

QB (3): Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook

Here come’s the spoiler alert — Derek Carr is going to be the starting quarterback for Oakland in 2017.


Read more on Raiders Wire!

5 Oakland Raiders who will be undervalued in Fantasy Football

Photo via Joe Robbins, Getty Images

With NFL training camp just around the corner, everyone’s fantasy drafts are just weeks away.

Here is an in-depth look at five Oakland Raiders who will be undervalued in Fantasy Football for the upcoming season, so Raider Nation can win their fantasy league while still being able to root for their favorite players on Sundays.

Photo via Getty Images

No. 5, QB Derek Carr

ESPN PPR ranking: No. 10 Quarterback, No. 109 overall

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, shown by his team’s pathetic display without him and his new five-year $125 million extension.

Continue reading “5 Oakland Raiders who will be undervalued in Fantasy Football”

Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper No. 2 best deep-threat in NFL per PFF

Photo via Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper can do everything. The former Crimson Tide is just as likely to take a screen pass to the house as he is a go route.

There is not a player in the league who has better footwork than Cooper as he can make the best cornerbacks look silly and burn them deep.

Not surprisingly, quarterbacks had the second highest passer rating in the NFL when targeting Cooper on a go route, per Pro Football Focus.

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Each season, Cooper has had memorable go routes go for six including his first career touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens, his touchdown Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers and his touchdown Week 8 in Tampa Bay.

Cooper is so tough to stop as he makes cornerbacks play up on him as Cooper has the explosiveness to score from anywhere. Once they get in his grill, he is too fast for a cornerback to stay with him.

With Cooper far from satisfied, he has worked his tail off this entire offseason and it should not surprise anyone to see him become the best deep-threat in the NFL next season.

Raiders’ Derek Carr AFC’s No. 2 best deep ball thrower

Photo via Sporting News

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was the No. 2 best deep-ball thrower in the AFC during 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

Carr had an impressive passer rating of 117.6 that helped him leapfrog Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but placed him just behind New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

With the addition of Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, teams will have to load the box to stop the run. Therefore, it should open up the field for Carr to take more shots deep and improve his already great passer rating of 117.6.

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In addition, Oakland has added speedy Raiders wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson who can take the top off the defense. There is also Raiders tight end Jared Cook who will look stretch the field down the middle.

Not to mention, Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper will be entering his third season and is expected to take a giant step.

Without a doubt, Carr and the weapons around him are only going to be better in 2017.

With that being said, Carr will have a great shot to overtake Brady for the No. 1 spot next season. Maybe him jumping Brady as the best deep ball thrower will also help Oakland jump the Patriots as the No. 1 team in the AFC.

Raiders’ Amari Cooper’s best plays from his career

Photo via Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Today, June 17, is Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper’s birthday. In celebration, the Raiders Wire has come up with Cooper’s top 5 plays of his NFL career.

 

No. 5, Cooper takes screen pass for 6 against Texans

In 2016, with just five minutes left in a tied game, Cooper took a 35-yard screen pass to the house to take a seven-point lead over the Houston Texans.

Cooper’s play helped seal the Week 11 victory in Mexico City and catapulted the Raiders over Houston in playoff positioning.

No. 4, Cooper seals deal against Bills

During Week 13, Oakland experienced a 15 point deficit, but was able to come back thanks to Cooper’s splendid performance.

With the Raiders down one point, Cooper executed a magnificent double move to free him up for a 37-yard touchdown.

Oakland finally took the lead and never looked back extending the lead to 14 and improving to 10-2.

No. 3, Cooper’s double move too much for Bucs

During Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s record-setting day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cooper caught a 34-yard touchdown pass to bring Oakland their first lead in the second half.

Thanks to Cooper’s incredible day, Oakland improved to 6-2 and won their second game of the Florida road trip.

An impressive feat considering the Raiders struggled in the eastern time zone for the past decade.

No. 2, Cooper takes bubble screen to house against Chargers

Maybe his most impressive play during his career, Cooper took a screen pass 52-yards for six against the San Diego Chargers.

On his way to the end zone, Cooper made multiple Chargers miss and one fall to the ground as he was too shifty for anyone to tackle him.

This touchdown extended the lead to 27 points and helped give Oakland a great win over their rival on the road.

No. 1, Cooper burns Ravens corner to start career with bang

In Cooper’s second NFL game, he scored a 68-yard touchdown on the first possession.

The score was Cooper’s first of his career and helped give him the confidence to explode onto the NFL scene as a rookie.

In addition, the touchdown helped revitalize an offense, that was anemic the week before against the Cinicnatti Bengals, leading the Raiders to a seven-win season after only winning three games the season before.