This week on Tar Takes we discuss the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football win over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, if they have any shot to upset the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday and if Carolina basketball should be a top 10 team in the country.
In the NFL, we discuss the state of the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
And we look at the Jimmy Butler trade request from the Minnesota Timerbwolves and tell you if that was the right decision for Butler.
Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (Photo via Getty Images)
The JR Report Podcast, hosted by Ryan Lipton, dives into the Oakland Raiders 2-3 start to the 2017 NFL regular season and why it might be smart for the Raiders to move on from coach Jack Del Rio after the 2017 season.
Now isn’t the time to move on. If Oakland misses the playoffs owner Mark Davis should look hard at moving on from Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio prides himself on defense and attitude, yet the defense has been horrible and the team can’t show up and be competitive in must-win games. (Last year’s losses to the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans and this year’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos).
Raiders QB Derek Carr vs. Broncos (Photo via Getty Images)
Ryan Lipton, the host of the JR Report podcast, breaks down the recent Oakland Raiders loss to the Washington Redskins and looks forward to the Week 4 AFC West matchup in Mile High against the Denver Broncos.
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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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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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.
With the Oakland Raiders’ 2017 preseason wrapping up, it is time to start looking forward to the 2017 NFL regular season.
As such, here are The JR Report’s win-loss projections for the 2017 Raiders.
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Week 1: at Tennessee Titans
Starting the regular season off on the road against an up and coming team in the Tennessee Titans would be tough for any team to overcome.
Running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and even quarterback Marcus Mariota could cause many issues on the Oakland defense. With so many weapons on the Tennessee offense, the Raiders’ poor defensive communication could be exposed.
With that being said, the Oakland defense will get gashed often, but the Raiders have an MVP caliber quarterback on the other side who will lead Oakland to a nail-biter victory in Week 1 carrying over the common theme from 2016.
Until the defense learns to communicate and gets defensive backs Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu up to speed, they will look a lot like the 2016 Raiders, just with fewer victories.
Raiders 34 Titans 30
Week 2: vs. New York Jets
This game will be the first home opener in Oakland since the organization announced their move to Las Vegas.
A blow out victory against the New York Jets should do well in pleasing the fans and keeping the Oakland Coliseum hospitable with the relocation on everyone’s mind.
Raiders 27 Jets 10
Week 3: at Washington Redskins (SNF)
The Raiders are a better team than the Washington Redskins and, despite what the salaries might say in the future, Carr has a major advantage over quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Nonetheless, it is still early in the season and the Oakland defense will be vulnerable. Cousins will have a monster game and Carr’s late magic will not be enough to carry his team on the road against a possible playoff team on Sunday Night Football.
Redskins 27 Raiders 24
Week 4: at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos just do not have the star-power at quarterback to compete with a talent like Carr.
The Raiders, like last year’s home win, will use running back Marshawn Lynch to run over the defense and open the play action passing game for Carr to complete a few game-changing strikes.
The Broncos might not admit it, but they are about to enter a rebuilding phase as they need to find their quarterback of the future. Also, placing safety TJ Ward on the trading block does suggest a possible rebuilding period.
Per source, Broncos are actually making — not receiving — calls about a trade of S T.J. Ward.
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Week 5: vs. Baltimore Ravens
Oakland has defeated the Baltimore Ravens two seasons in a row. Moreover, quarterback Joe Flacco might not even be ready or healthy for this game in Oakland.
As a result, the outcome will be no different from the last two meetings.
Raiders 20 Ravens 13
Week 6: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback Philip Rivers is going to have a field day against the porous Raiders secondary. The Los Angeles Chargers are a much-improved team, maybe the most in the NFL, and will sneak up on Oakland a few days before they have to play the Kansas City Chiefs on national television.
Chargers 31 Raiders 27
Week 7: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (TNF)
A game under the lights at home will help Carr turn around his poor history against the Chiefs (lost five straight games to KC) since there is no team Carr and company will want to beat more than Kansas City.
The game also becomes a must-win after the previous week’s loss to the Chargers.
Lynch has a beast quake type game as the Coliseum erupts on Thursday Night Football during the team’s first victory over the Chiefs since Carr’s first NFL win.
Raiders 27 Chiefs 20
Week 8: at Buffalo Bills
As long as Tyrod Taylor is the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, they won’t stand any chance against Carr and the Raiders.
Oakland would need a major off-day to lose to Buffalo, especially as the Bills subtly begin their rebuild, which they should until Tom Brady exits the division.
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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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.
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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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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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.