ALAMEDA — You guys had plenty of questions this week after Sunday’s debacle in Kansas City. Let’s get right to them.
Q: @tommydeas – “Autorequest for Amari Cooper status report, please.”
A: Nothing more than what Jack Del Rio said after the game. Cooper re-injured his left ankle and missed the final two and a half quarters. Didn’t see him in the locker room on Tuesday, so no chance for him to decline comment like he did after clearing concussion protocol last week. As for re-injuring his ankle while blocking in traffic on a toss to DeAndre Washington, Del Rio said, “He had an assignment to block. It’s football. He was involved in a play.” We’ll see if he’s a DNP on Wednesday’s injury report.
Q: @Raiders24dude – “I’m tired of hearing about lack of “confidence”. How can an NFL team have so many receivers who keep dropping the ball like this? Their job each week is……..catching……the……ball……….how the heck is this such an issue? Come on”
A: You’re not wrong. Drops are a subjective stat, but the Raiders have plenty. Football Outsiders has Cooper tied for the league lead with eight. The bulk of those came early, but that many regardless of when they come is too many, especially from your supposed No. 1. I asked general manager Reggie McKenzie about that during the bye week, and he noted Cooper’s mind needed to catch up with his skillset. That led me to believe Cooper’s first couple drops got to his head. Then there’s Johnny Holton, with two fumbles and a couple drops the past several weeks. We’ve asked Del Rio and Todd Downing how to remedy drops repeatedly. They don’t have a concrete answer because I don’t think there is one. There’s only so much you can drill before saying, “We just have to trust our players won’t drop the ball during games.”
Q: @Bark_Lee5 – “Likelihood you see us in the playoffs lol? Give me the scenarios”
A: Very low. If they get in, however, this is how I think it’ll happen:
– Raiders win out, finish 9-7– Chargers lose to Chiefs, beat Jets, lose to Raiders, finish 8-8– Bills lose to Dolphins, lose to Patriots, beat Dolphins, finish 8-8– Titans beat 49ers, lose to Rams, lose to Jaguars, finish 9-7, lose tiebreaker to Raiders
I see the Ravens winning out since they have Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati left. I think the Chiefs win out, too, and win the AFC West with the Chargers, Dolphins and Broncos left. So if the Raiders get in, and that’s a big IF, I think it’s as the No. 6 seed. That would probably mean a trip to Jacksonville in the first round. But I don’t see them winning out at all.
Q: @RaiderE217 – “Will reggie draft a guy without health issues and not miss a game”
A: Raider fans can only hope. This year’s draft obviously panned out terribly for McKenzie with his first two picks missing a combined 22 regular season games due to injury. Gareon Conley’s shin restricted him to two games played before heading to IR, and Obi Melifonwu missed the first eight while on IR with a leg injury. Jihad Ward, last year’s second-round pick, logged his first inactive due to injury last weekend. It’s always hard to project injuries, so I think it’s more bad luck than anything. Then there’s last year’s second-, third- and fourth-round picks not playing despite being healthy. Ward hasn’t played despite being healthy in 12 of 13 games. Shilique Calhoun was promoted from the practice squad Oct. 14 and has played minimally in three games while being healthy. Connor Cook hasn’t seen the field yet as a healthy third-string quarterback. Not a good track record for the GM there.
Q: @TimMarburger62 – “Is the lack of shots downfield a product of the Downing offense, Carr’s desire to get the ball out as soon as possible or WR’s inability to get separation downfield?”
A: I think it’s mostly a combination of the first and third ones you mentioned. We’ll never know all the plays Downing calls and all the ones Carr audibles to, so it’s unfair to heap all the blame on one or the other. More times than not, though, I think Downing has been overly conservative in his play-calling. We saw it on the last drive against Kansas City, when the Raiders dinked-and-dunked their way downfield down 11 with under three minutes left before Carr took a shot. I also think Johnny Holton is the only receiver who’s shown an ability to routinely create separation downfield. Then again, that’s with a much smaller sample size than guys like Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Jared Cook, so maybe Holton’s abilities are slightly misleading as well.
Q (more so a statement): @da1_n_only_VRod – “We need to start a gofundme account to help raise some cash to chip in on buying JDR out.”
A: I’m sure you could raise a decent chunk of money for that with how agitated this fan base seems. Not nearly enough for what it would cost to buy him out, though.
Q: @tworae – “Ask Derek Carr about getting that Brett Favre demeanor/psyche back. A lot of people talking about a perceived lack of confidence from him in plays/receivers. Playing with hair on fire last 3 games?”
A: If you want my frank opinion, I don’t think his back is fully healthy. Carr will never admit that, and has vehemently denied it when asked since returning from three transverse process fractures suffered in Week 4, but I think that lack of confidence you perceive may be more due to lingering back stiffness than you think. He’ll always say he has the utmost confidence in his ability, his receivers and the plays called by Downing. But when poor performances stack up, as they have with him this year for whatever the reasons may be, it’s hard to look like a confident, near-MVP quarterback like he was last year.
Q: @lakers81813 – “Why not change any part of our offense ? Why do we keep running 2 second plays to the flat . Why do we open up the playbook when we are down 3 touchdowns . Is Derek Carr the one who’s choosing not to throw down field ?”
A: As I said above, we’ll never know the full extent of the decisions Downing makes compared to those Carr makes. I think it’s a combination of both when discussing who decides to throw short, though more so Downing. When Carr checked down to Jalen Richard near midfield with two seconds left in the first half against Buffalo, however, Carr later admitted the call was for a Hail Mary and he chose to dump it off. There’s no problem with throwing short, except for when the situation clearly doesn’t call for it. Del Rio was asked why Oakland repeatedly threw short on the last drive Sunday in Kansas City, down two scores. He said they were trying to win. It certainly didn’t seem like it. Repeatedly throwing short down big, as Carr did against the Bills, raises questions someone always has answers to. It’s what the defense gave. It was the best option Carr saw. Whatever the reason is for questionably throwing short at times this season, the end results haven’t been good enough.
Q: @Fernie33 – “Does Del Rio make it another season? If so any offensive coordinator candidates?”
A: Del Rio will be the coach here next year. He signed a four-year contract extension after last season. We don’t know the exact money figures, but it would cost far too much to fire him.
Q: @dtotwitting – “What happened to Obi? He can’t get on the field not even one snap. Is he another draft bust?”
A: Coaches made a mistake starting him against the Patriots, even more so having him guard one of the league’s fastest receivers in Brandin Cooks. Since that game, he’s played one defensive snap combined in three weeks. He’s not a bust by any means. He missed the first eight games, so nobody expected him to get up to speed right away. It has been surprising, however, that he’s barely played the last three games. Del Rio has deflected every time he’s asked about Obi, but I think the 2017 second-round pick just isn’t up to speed at either cornerback or safety as much as coaches would like him to be. Why hasn’t he guarded tight ends as much as it seemed he would, though? That’s a more perplexing question.
Q (another statement): @raiders8112 – “odd owning should not be allowed to use the letters TD in his name. Carr will be better than ever with a real OC.”
A: That’s clever. I see what you did there. The question most people have after watching the Raiders this season is why they fired Bill Musgrave after he coached the NFL’s No. 6 offense last year. Would Carr be better this season with Musgrave? Nobody knows. I think more blame rests on Carr for the offense’s struggles than it seems people are doling out, but it’s an intriguing idea to wonder if anything would be different with Musgrave – or someone else – calling the plays.
Q: @RaiderMatt5204 – “Is Todd Downing 100% gone”
A: Not this season. Del Rio said on 95.7 Monday that Downing will coach the last three games. If the Raiders miss the playoffs, which they likely will, then things get interesting.
Q: @jdb_chillin – “What do you think will be priority #1 in the offseason in terms of making this team better?”
A: The Raiders need help at cornerback, above all else. They get Gareon Conley back, but who knows if he’ll return to No. 1 pick form. The combinations of TJ Carrie, Sean Smith, Dexter McDonald and David Amerson haven’t come close to cutting it. Oakland needs another starter at cornerback besides Conley, assuming he gets healthy and starts on one side next year.
Q: @therealkennyest – “Does local media interview opposing team after games? Especially defensive players. Wonder if Raiders are the easiest team to game plan and watch film on. Given the basic offense they run.”
A: We have the option to, but given time constraints with players and teams leaving the stadium I only focus on Raiders players and Del Rio. To get everything I want from the players on the team I cover, I simply can’t afford to spend time in an opposing locker room. If I could, it would be interesting to see if other defenders would open up like that. Like you, I wonder.