NA: Though the Raiders haven't climbed the win meter too often they appear to be a team that has substantial fight in them. How has Oakland overcome so many depths to continue to play competitive football all season long?
CM: I certainly have to give interim head coach Tony Sparano some credit for getting the players ready to play and compete week in, week out. The team has shown a lot of pride by playing hard every week, with the exception of the matchup against the St. Louis Rams.
Besides Sparano, credit has to be given to the veteran presence in the locker room. Veterans like safety Charles Woodson and defensive end Justin Tuck (and more) have repeated many times that the team has too much pride to just fold over and not compete.
In addition to the veterans, general manager Reggie McKenzie has done a great job of building a locker room that is filled with what he calls “football players” - guys that want to play the game because they love the game, and will always come out and compete. I believe this mindset has trickled down from Sparano, to the veterans in the locker room, to the young players like Khalil Mack and Derek Carr.
NA: Not many people were as high on Quarterback, Derek Carr as the Oakland Raiders. In hindsight he might be the best quarterback in the 2014 draft class. On watching him play several games this year, he has a wide range of abilities and confidence he can make any throw. Have the coaches been working with him or does that talent come from within?
CM: Offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterback coach John DeFilippo have done a great job bringing the rookie quarterback along. They have worked hard on his fundamentals, as well as helping him progress week to week.
Along with the coaches, the veterans in the locker room have also played a role. Even veterans on the defensive side of the ball like Charles Woodson have reached out to Carr with guidance.
Undoubtedly the biggest reason for the young quarterback’s success in his rookie season is his talent and his dedication to success.
Carr is unbelievably mature for his young age, which has to do with having a family built already and having seen his brother, David, go through an NFL career of his own. I believe the struggles of David helped Derek mature and understand what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
Carr also is dedicated to his craft. He is a first-one-in, last-one-out type of guy. This week, he arrived at the facility at 5:40 a.m. on Tuesday (according to an interview on FM 95.7), which was his day off. This is not surprising for the young quarterback that aspires to be one of the best.
NA: It's clear once the season ends the Oakland Raiders have issues on multiple fronts. They are likely going to be looking for a new head coach and potentially a new stadium to boot. What direction do you think the Raiders will do in regards to those key off-season items.
CM: The Raiders certainly have a lot of rebuilding to do, on many fronts as you mention.
While Sparano certainly deserves the chance to be interviewed for the head coaching job, owner Mark Davis wants a coach with star power. The rumor mill has really been rotating at a quick pace regarding Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, and rightfully so. The coach from across the Bay would be a great addition and there appears to be mutual interest. It’s just remains to be seen if the Raiders would be willing to give up enough to get him. If they don’t acquire Harbaugh, I expect them to make a run for other “big-name” coaches like Jon Gruden or Mike Holmgren.
As far as the stadium, there really is no right answer to that question since there’s no lease for next year and the team still hasn’t locked up a deal in Oakland, Los Angeles or any other city. It is going to be hard for them to stay in Oakland because of funding issues, but they have made some strong steps recently.
The Silver & Black are certainly in the running for Los Angeles, and will be until they get some sort of a deal figured out. Whichever route they choose, there’s no doubt that the Raiders need a new home since O.Co Coliseum is one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL.
CM: The Chiefs struggled to contain second-year RB Latavius Murray in their last match-up before he went out with a concussion. Do you think Murray will be able to find the same success he had against them on Thursday Night Football?
NA: The Raiders didn't do the Chiefs any favors by exposing their inability to stop the run. If the Raiders block the same, and the Chiefs don't rotate their defense to adjust to Murray's ability to cutback, he could have another big day against Kansas City. For whatever reason, Kansas City has been unable to stop the run against running backs. It's a bit perplexing when you consider they did such a good job of it during their recent winning streak. However, something has changed and I'd have to say Defensive Coordinator, Bob Sutton, has to rotate fresh bodies along KC's front seven to keep them fresh.
CM: Kansas City has lost the two following games after dropping to the Raiders, both hard-fought losses. From an outsiders viewpoint, it appears that the offense is a big reason why. What has happened to the Chiefs offense? What is contributing to their ineptness the last couple of weeks.
NA: The Chiefs simply don't have an offensive line that's playing at a level where Head Coach, Andy Reid, can open up his entire playbook. It's been a problem all season. Still the Chiefs are not a passing team and that's been the biggest culprit in the Chiefs offensive woes this year. Reid has done everything to establish the pass for his offense but they simply don't have the line up front or enough capable wide receivers to play Reid ball by chucking the ball down the field.
CM: The biggest injury question this week is undoubtedly Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. Do you think he will be a go come Sunday? If so, how does his injury impact the Chiefs offensive gameplan?
NA: Where is Jamaal Charles? That's a big question in the ranks of the Chiefs nation. Again Reid has force fed the passing game and ignored Charles for the most part during their three game losing streak. Charles is the toughest player I've ever seen at the running back position for the Chiefs. He plays hurt, never makes excuses and has heart to gut it out regardless of what's in front of him, injuries or opposing defenses. For me, Reid has to give Charles at least 25 touches per game in order to win football games. If he does that Sunday against the Raiders, the Chiefs will win. If not, well then you can expect a Raiders victory.