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Raiders looking to fix recent red zone woes; Shilique Calhoun returns to practice, Stacy McGee, Karl Joseph still out

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ALAMEDA — It wasn’t long ago that the Raiders were humming along as one of the best red zone offenses in the league.

Nobody was better over the first four games and as recently as two weeks ago, the Raiders were seventh in the NFL with touchdowns on 64.3 percent of their possessions.

Two bad weeks — with two touchdowns on their last 11 trips — and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is suddenly answering questions about what happened to his once dynamic unit.

“A number of factors,” Musgrave said Wednesday. “We’re ready to get back on track, that’s for sure.”

The Raiders had one touchdown and three field goals on seven trips inside the 20-yard line against the San Diego Chargers. (One red zone possession was following a turnover and led to the game-ending kneel down).

It’s gotten so bad that, even taking that kneel down possession out of the equation, the Raiders are averaging just 2.9 points per red zone trip in these last two games. After producing at least a field goal on 41 of their first 42 drives inside the 20 over the first 12 games, they’ve had five scoreless red zone drives these past two. It’s happened numerous ways — a bad snap on a field goal, a turnover on downs, a fumble, an interception and then that kneel down.

Musgrave admits it hasn’t been up to snuff.

“It’s not enough to get to down there,” he said. “We want to finish the right way. So we’re working hard on that, count on being better moving forward.”

Musgrave blamed the struggles on a “couple uncharacteristic mistakes,” which include Latavius Murray’s first lost fumble of the season on Sunday and Carr’s first red zone interception of the year.

“We don’t want to just sweep them under the rug,” Musgrave said of those mistakes. “We want to address them, get them fixed and get back on track.”

Carr, as he did after Sunday’s win over the Chargers, insisted it was more about the defenses they’ve been playing. That may be the case against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago — they have the sixth-best red zone defense and eighth-best scoring defense — it’s not so true against a San Diego team near the bottom of the league.

One thing the Raiders do discount is that the struggles are a result of the necessity to go from the shotgun or pistol formations because of Carr’s right pinkie injury.

That was a popular talking point after the Raiders failed to score a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in San Diego, but as some players pointed out, they’ve still be pretty successful along the goal line since abandoning snaps from under center for the past three and a half game.

“We got stopped once. I’m not about to make a big deal out of it,” Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn said. “The week before when we scored on the goal line, it was no issue. The week before that when we scored on the goal line it was no issue. One time, they stopped it. It’s not an issue an all.”

Penn’s right. Against the Chiefs, the Raiders faced first-and-goal at the 1 at the end of the second quarter and Murray plowed in for the touchdown.

The week before against the Buffalo Bills, they scored touchdowns on all three of their goal-to-go situations, including two on the ground. It happened with relative ease too with Murray scoring on first down from the 1 and then from the 3.

Overall, the Raiders have run well since Carr’s injury, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Take away the second half of the Carolina Panthers game in which he was hurt (.ie, when the Raiders had a chance to practice and get used to exclusively going from shotgun) and Oakland’s averaging 4.6 per attempt.

“You’re only as good as your last game,” center Rodney Hudson said. “We didn’t score. We’ll fix it. We’ll come in, I’m sure we can do some things better. We’ll watch the tape and correct it. No matter what we’re in, we’ll just try to execute, no matter if we’re in the gun or under, as player, just try to execute and take advantage of the opportunities.”

— A day after doing some work on the side, Raiders rookie outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun was back at practice on Wednesday.

Calhoun has missed the past four games after having a minor knee procedure following an injury suffered Nov. 21 in Mexico City against the Houston Texans.

On the season, the team’s third-round pick out of Michigan State has eight tackles, three of which are on special teams, and a half-sack.

— Defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who has missed five of the past seven games with an ankle injury, remains out of practice. Same goes for rookie safety Karl Joseph, who seems poised to miss his third straight contest with a toe injury.

— Linebacker Bruce Irvin was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording six tackles and two sacks in the Raiders’ 19-16 win over the Chargers. He also pressured and laid a hit on San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers that led to the game-sealing interception.

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Jimmy Durkin

Sports writer for the Bay Area News Group, covering the Raiders.

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    1st

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    2nd

  • Rikster/Da/Kool/Kat

    Howdy…. doodle

  • TimberRaiders

    4th

  • RaiderCODE

    11-3. Do you know where your kids are?

  • idahoraiderfan33

    GO RAIDERS

  • RaiderCODE

    Where’d ya’ll go?

  • RaiderCODE

    Superbowl. Thas was happnin..

  • Rikster/Da/Kool/Kat

    Go Raiders

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    We are right here

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Guys … it feels weird rooting for Denver this Sunday, doesn’t it? I feel confident Miami is going to beat Buffalo and keep the 6th seed

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    any Hue Jackson fans left? Bloggers were pissed when he got fired from the Oakland HC gig. Currently 0-14 for the Brownholes. Can he survive the chopping block if they go winless?

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Nice to see Bruce Irvin (“Robin” to Mack/Batman) finally get some love with a DPOW designation. He’s been huge for us this year. JFB ready to eat some crow?

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    I don’t think we should rush Calhoun back. Dude just had a “knee procedure” last month. He wasn’t contributing much before the injury at 100%

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Would you fantasy pros advise starting Ryan Mathews (home vs Giants) or Kenneth Dixon (at Steelers) ?? The only dudes in FA are bums like Justin Forsett, Dion Lewis & Chris Thompson … Please advise!

  • rifflicks

    Red Zone woes will continue as long as Carr continues to run the offense exclusively from the shotgun/pistol…..in the short field of the Red Zone it gives the defenders too much of an advantage in reading, and blocking running lanes……and therefore negates the effectiveness of play action passes

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    We just have to fight threw these times. Hopefully Carr will be back under center come play offs. I’m sure he will be ready then

  • rifflicks

    Then you have to depend on this defense to keep opponents from scoring……with A. Luck coming to town

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    I see our defense growing as the season goes by. Hopefully we make that break sooner than later

  • Raiders21

    keep an eye on Dion Lewis his carries went up last week and had close to 100 yards

  • Raiders21

    Giants D is no joke. Id steer away from Mathews.

  • Raiders21

    Hopefully Mack and Irvin beat Luck up

  • dukeblue11

    We need Sean Smith to quit getting burnt deep. TY Hilton on deck this week for the 70 yard TD

  • dukeblue11

    Listening to Ice Cube’s Predator Album. Forgot what a classic that was.

  • Rikster/Da/Kool/Kat

    That freaky Riff the Cheese head around

  • Rikster/Da/Kool/Kat

    Riff what kind of stupid name is that anyway…

  • Raiderkoolaid

    I hope the Browns stick with him. I think he is a capable coach, but took over a team that was too lacking in talent. It will take years to build a talented roster just like it took the Raiders years.

  • Rikster/Da/Kool/Kat

    Keep the posts coming Durkin thanks

  • Raiderkoolaid

    I Aldon has not completed everything he is suppose to for reinstatement, I hope he gets it done before next season. If he has done everything then I wish Goodell would hurry up and act. I don’t think Aldon’s trainer has helped his cause with the public statements he has made.

  • idahoraiderfan33

    What’s he have left to do?? Im not sure dude

  • Raiderkoolaid

    No way to know. If it isn’t all done the NFL isn’t saying so publicly.

  • idahoraiderfan33

    Somethings up for sure.. Or Goodell is just being a jerk, hard to say.. I think it’s some BS man.. He did his time, let him play

  • Raiderkoolaid

    I agree, but I do consider there could be something there that we don’t know about.

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Think they’ll fire him as soon as they get some roster talent, like we did to DA?

  • idahoraiderfan33

    Smoking that bud in that video is the only thing i can think of..
    The league didn’t say anything about though when that video came out.. This is what i gotta say bro?? FREE ALDON SMITH

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Think that was a fluke? Jets suck and Brady is banged up..so you might be right

  • idahoraiderfan33

    Exactly

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Risk the finger?

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Yep!

  • Raiderkoolaid

    I think it is obvious that someone hacked his account. Nobody would be that stupid as to post something like that when they are trying to get back into the league. Either is wasn’t him, or it was made years before and someone held it and then posted it vindictively.

  • idahoraiderfan33

    You think TY burns Smith deep??

  • idahoraiderfan33

    I agree, that might be a reason why the league didn’t make a big deal out of that.. If something else would of went down we would of heard about it already, imo
    All that’s left would be, the league don’t want the RAIDERS getting a player like Aldon for the playoffs?!

  • rifflicks

    Depends on if Reggie and JDR are OK with maybe dropping to the wild card slot…..Defenses don’t respect the run game, and have the luxury of tight coverage on WRs…..Cooper is already showing it effecting his game

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    Somebody will. Sean is smart, but slow

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    25m25 minutes ago
    Scott Bair ‏@BairCSN
    Mario Edwards Jr. just packed an game equipment bag as everyone else did in prep for Saturday’s game. So, you know, odds seem pretty great.

  • BRRUUUCCCEEE (baby Al)

    2h2 hours ago
    Scott Bair ‏@BairCSN
    Fun fact: In five games since the bye, the Raiders defense has allowed 10 points in the fourth quarter. Ten. Over 75 important minutes.

  • rifflicks

    One man’s Treasure is another man’s Trash

  • RaidersOrNot

    Wft is Goodell waiting for…Christmas?

  • RaidersOrNot

    Risk the first round bye?

  • inonewordraider

    Pillagingjust4fun.com if interested (mighta seen u there already dont remember)