Niners Nation: I've seen some discussion of Derek Carr regressing. Where does he stand heading into Week 14?
Silver & Black Pride: Ha, that's funny. My first question to you about Colin Kaepernick was very similar. If you ask the coaching staff, they would say he is making progress in some areas. I saw that early on, but he seemed to peak in the fifth game and since then defenses seem to have his number. It isn't all that hard to do considering the Raider have had no running game so all the pressure has been on him. They simply blitz him, and he makes bad decisions. Usually it involves throwing to a covered receiver, or too short to pick up the first down. But sometimes it is a turnover, either on an interception or a fumble.
Where he stands now is he is not capable of carrying this offense. He requires a running game to take some of the burden off of him. He's a rookie. And the result of all those years watching his brother get sacked has made him get rid of the ball far too quickly as if the most important stat in the game is sacks given up. Kinda makes you want to stick him in a room with nothing but tape of Aaron Rodgers for a few months and hope it balances things out for him.
NN: What have you seen from Latavius Murray in limited snaps? Is it too soon to declare him a potential feature back of the near future?
S&BP: The funny thing about limited snaps is that Murray has done so much with those snaps. It would be one thing if he had 8 snaps and had just one big run that made his numbers look better than they really are. He did have a big run - 90 yard touchdown run - but even without it, his numbers still look good. The other thing is, unlike many backs who have early success, we have a lot to compare it to which tells you it is Murray who is making the difference. The Raiders were the worst running team in the NFL with the lowest yards per game in the modern era. Then Murray is put in the game and it was like 'where did this come from?' His first carry goes for 14 yards, his second for 23 yards. The next week he had an 11-yard touchdown run and the 90-yard TD run. He very much should be the Raiders' feature back at least the remainder of this season and from the looks of it, he absolutely can be the feature back of the near future.
NN: The Raiders added veteran starters in the secondary this offseason, signing former 49ers Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Given the question marks elsewhere on the roster, what was the thinking in adding those two?
S&BP: The thinking was to first of all, bridge the gap until they could fill the starting jobs with draft picks. That's part of the reason both were signed to one-year deals. Secondly, Brown is still a young player with a great deal of starting experience. He was considered one of the better signings last off-season on a team that needed a LOT of players. I think the team has been relatively pleased with their performances. Well, right up until Rogers was lost for the season with injury. I think they would consider bringing Brown back but he would have to compete for the job with several young corners the team hopes are the long term answer such as D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie, and Keith McGill.
NN: What does the future hold for Tony Sparano and Reggie McKenzie? If you feel like speculating on Harbaugh, feel free!
S&BP: I think I get the Reggie McKenzie question every week. The team is 1-11 and not for good reason. And it isn't just the tough schedule. Tony Sparano is attempting really the impossible. He is trying to make the best of a very bad situation. There are barely a handful of real building blocks with a coaching staff that can't seem to get the most out of them. The roster has been overhauled almost entirely each of the three seasons of the new regime and after having a record amount of cap money to spend, it's actually worse than it's ever been. Hard to see McKenzie surviving this.As far as Harbaugh speculation, I don't see him coming to the Raiders. It's fun to talk about but it just seems far-fetched to me.
NN: If the Raiders finish with the No. 1 pick of the draft, what do they do with it?
S&BP: Trade it. The only player at this juncture who looks like the sure-fire number one overall pick type is Marcus Mariota. The Raiders want to give Derek Carr more than just his rookie season to see if he can be the guy. Adding a weapon like Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper would go a long way to helping Carr and the Raiders offense. Wide receivers are not chosen number one overall. If the Raiders traded down a couple spots with a QB needy team like the Jets or the Buccaneers, they could probably still get Cooper and pick up more draft picks to help with the rebuild. That is an ideal scenario.