NFL Wire News

Players like Sparano, but Raiders still shopping


ALAMEDA, Calif. — Is a 3-9 record good enough to remove “interim” from the title of Tony Sparano?

Sparano, who took over the Oakland Raiders four games into the 2014 season for Dennis Allen, was undaunted the day after a season-ending 47-14 loss to the Denver Broncos, which left the Raiders with a 3-13 record.

Sparano addressed his unimpressive won-loss record but thinks he has the Raiders positioned for a bright future. He spoke with owner Mark Davis the previous week and will have a follow-up interview soon.

“I get it,” Sparano said of the skepticism about his candidacy. “I can’t speak for Mark, but I’m confident and I know which direction this is headed. There is a lot of work to be done here right now, and by God, I want that work to be for me, for this organization.”

Davis said the Raiders had begun making requests of teams with byes in the playoffs to interview prospective candidates, declining to name them. Among those coaches who could be targets include Denver coordinators Adam Gase (offense) and Jack Del Rio (defense), Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Sparano has plenty of support in the locker room from veterans such as defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Antonio Smith and free safety Charles Woodson, all of whom advocated his elevation to full time coach.

While Davis reportedly had set his sights on a “rock star” head coach, two candidates with that description — ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh — were off the market before the Raiders got going in the process.

Gruden signed a six-year extension with ESPN and Harbaugh, after parting ways with the 49ers, had reportedly signed a contract to coach in college at Michigan.

Sparano has his sights set on staying where he is.

“All I want to do right now is be head coach of the Oakland Raiders,” Sparano said. “How badly? Very, very badly. This is my team. I left my team today and I’m looking forward to starting over with them. Those decisions will be made down the road.”

Notes: Wide receiver Andre Holmes led the Raiders in receiving yards with 693, the ninth straight season the team did not have a wideout get 1,000 yards, dating back to Randy Moss (1,006) in 2005.


–PASSING OFFENSE: D — Derek Carr struggled getting the ball downfield, completing 18 of 36 passes for 158 yards, and 56 of those came on one throw to Latavius Murray. Carr had one touchdown pass — a 1-yard throw to Jamize Olawale — and threw an interception in his final throw of the season. He never seemed in synch with wide receivers or tight end Mychal Rivera.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D — The Raiders averaged 3.7 yards per carry but really weren’t even that good, unable to get yards in the first half when the game essentially got away from them. Latavius Murray had 37 yards on 10 attempts, Darren McFadden had 13 yards on four carries. The longest run all day was 11 yards by Marcel Reece.

–PASS DEFENSE: C-minus — Peyton Manning really didn’t look all that sharp, completing 21 of 37 passes for 273 yards and no touchdowns. He missed some throws but the Raiders covered well on some others. But there were still too many times, particularly on crossing routes and to Demarius Thomas (8 receptions, 115 yards), where receivers broke into the clear for big gains. No pass rush to speak of

–RUSH DEFENSE: D — C.J. Anderson had 87 yards on 13 carries and touchdown runs of 11, 1 and 25 yards. The Broncos had nine rushing first downs to more than balance out the offense for Manning, finishing with 142 yards on nine carries. Ronnie Hillman had 56 yards on 15 attempts with some tough runs. Khalil Mack, slowed by a hamstring strain, had two tackles, none for losses.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Omar Bolden ran a kickoff 76 yards to open the second half and set up the touchdown that put the Broncos up 27-7. Marquette King had nine punts for a 42.3 net with four inside the 20-yard line with a long of 58 yards. Sebastian Janikowski had no field goal attempts and no touchbacks despite the altitude in the Mile High City. Charles Woodson had a 23-yard punt return in the second half.

–COACHING: D — So much for the fast start on the road. Whatever ails the Raiders in terms of being ready to play away from home remained that way. Because of all the injuries, the Raiders were really mismatched from the get-go defensively against the Broncos offense and no schemes would change that. Offensively, it wasn’t Greg Olson’s fault the receivers couldn’t gain separation. There were three false-start penalties on first down in Week 17.

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