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).
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.
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack will be getting a massive extension following the 2017 season. Since Mack plays defensive end like Griffen, the new deal will definitely be used in Oakland’s future negotiations with Mack.
Griffen, nowhere near Mack’s level, has still been one of the best at his position in the NFL tallying a Pro Football Focus player grade of at least 80 in the past three seasons. Mack has been above 95 in each of the last two years showing his superiority.
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.
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.
Mack is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was the first player to be named an All-Pro at two different positions in the same season.
In addition, it seems PFF releases a new stat about Mack every week that wows all of Raider Nation.
The only things Mack hasn’t done is win a Super Bowl title and win the NFL sack title. However, he came very close to the sack title in 2015 after his five-sack performance against the Denver Broncos.
Mack, who learned how to strip the quarterback in his third season, has improved each year and it is only a matter of time until there are zero missing accolades on his resume.
With that being said, it’ll be great to watch next year’s battle for best defensive player with Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt returning from a back injury. Mack will need another supreme season, with many more pressures, to keep his stranglehold on being the best defensive player in the NFL.
The Oakland Raiders won 12 games last season, but it was not thanks to their No. 26 ranked defense. They took the bend don’t break mantra seriously often waiting for Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack to save the day by forcing a turnover.
However, they will need to improve mightily on defense this season if they want to build on last year’s success.
Here are the 11 most important Raiders on defense for 2017.
No. 11 – DT Eddie Vanderdoes
Oakland struggled last season getting any interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they racked up just three sacks from the defensive tackle position.
Now, the two players who had those three sacks, former Raiders defensive tackles Dan Williams and Stacy McGee, are now gone.
With that being said, Raiders defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who has shown to have an inside push, will need to be effective to help improve upon last year’s weakness in the middle.
One must not look at the PFF grade and think the position is under lock, however, Smith was not as bad as people thought last season.
As long as Oakland can find a productive nickel corner to matchup with the smaller and quicker players, then Smith will be just fine serving a significant role in the defense.
No. 9 – DE Mario Edwards Jr.
Without Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith, Oakland doesn’t have an elite pass rusher to compliment Mack. Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin is solid, but he isn’t a dominant pass rushing force.
Therefore, Oakland would benefit mightily if Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has a bounceback season. He can help stop the run early, but, most importantly, can assist the pass rush by sliding inside to free the outside up for Mack and Irvin.
No. 8 – S Reggie Nelson
Raiders safety Reggie Nelson had another impressive season hauling in five interceptions.
With Oakland’s defense expected to be improved, but not elite, Nelson’s presence will tell me very important. They will need him to continue to force turnovers and also be a veteran presence with a large number of defensive rookies coming into the fold in 2017.
No. 7 – LB Bruce Irvin
Currently, Irvin is the second best pass rusher on the team behind Mack and is vital to the team’s success.
The more pressure he creates, the harder it is for teams to double and triple-team Mack. The less double teams Mack has to face, the easier it will be for Mack to wreak havoc.
No. 6 – S Karl Joseph
Oakland’s defense struggled against the run last year ranking No. 23 in the NFL.
With no middle linebacker replacement in sight, there could be a lot of free running backs hitting the second level in 2017. Therefore, it is essential for Raiders safety Karl Joseph to be the hard hitting and sure-tackling safety that he is known to be.
If he isn’t, then a lot of running backs will be taken their second-level runs to the end zone.
Former Oakland Raiders linebacker LaMarr Woodley had high praise for Raiders all-pro defensive end Khalil Mack saying that he could see Mack’s meteoric rise coming from when Woodley was on the team in 2014, via the Raiders’ Eddie Paskal.
Woodley also went into detail on how Mack became the accomplished player that he is. Woodley knew that Mack came in with all the “raw talent” to be great, but Mack needed to gather information from veterans in the league.
Therefore, the 2016 defensive player of the year was a “student” of the game. He regularly asked the veterans, like Woodley and former NFL defensive end Justin Tuck, questions and took every opportunity possible to learn from the older guys.
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Now, Mack has combined his freakish athleticism with incredible knowledge to become one of the premier defensive players in the NFL.
Remember, he has only played three seasons in the league and has vastly improved between each season. It is impossible to predict how good Mack could become throughout the rest of his probable Hall of Fame career.
According to Pro Football Focus, they have Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, center Rodney Hudson and guard Kelechi Osemele as the three best players from last season in that order.
It is definitely surprising that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr didn’t make the list, but Mack, Hudson, and Osemele might be considered more dominant compared to their position than Carr is to other quarterbacks.
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For example, name a defensive player better than Mack or a better guard than Osemele. Arguably, impossible to do, but it can be done with Carr.
In regards to Hudson, he is the greater surprise as it was not expected for him to be graded higher than Osemele and Raiders tackle Donald Penn, both crucial parts to the offensive line.
Overall, it is never an issue when a team has offensive linemen making the list as best on the team. It just means Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie built the team perfectly from inside out.
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