Raiders.com Week 12 Mailbag Questions Answered

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From Cynthia P: What is the biggest thing holding back the offense right now from scoring how it was a few weeks ago?

JK: It just seems to me that the offense is out of sync and never gets any momentum going. They need to just start by stringing some first downs together. Quick, easy completions and a couple of productive runs to start a drive, then the chunk plays will come. The Raiders have been pretty good in the red zone this year; they have to get back in the habit of getting there. Hitting on, or even attempting a few big plays early in the game might loosen the defense up as well.

From Danny J: Do you think it's a good thing that the rookies are contributing so much or bad that the team has to turn to so many rookies for contributions?

JK: I think it's a good thing. You draft these players to be valuable members of your team, whether they be front line starters or for quality back-ups and depth. The fact that many of the young players are getting more snaps speaks to their work ethic and talent level. It is better to find out now if they can play in this league or not. Playing and contributing is the key. I think you get better by playing in games and playing in meaningful games like the Raiders are now.

From Tim O: We haven't really seen many trick plays or gadget plays this season – do you think we will get more creative down the stretch?

JK: I am a firm believer that you have to get the fundamentals straight before you try to get cute. On top of that, when the offense was humming, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave didn't need to call any gadget plays. The offense was executing at a high level, racking up yards and scoring points. That being said every team has a few trick plays up their sleeve...the element of surprise is the key.

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From George K**: Is it fair to say that Michael Crabtree is the No. 1 receiver in the offense and Derek Carr's go-to guy?

JK: Crabtree has certainly been the most consistent weapon in the passing game. He is a polished veteran and he knows how to get open. Quarterback Derek Carr has developed a rapport with Crabtree – that was evident throughout the offseason. That being said, Carr is on the record as saying he will look for the open guy. In fact, 14 players have caught passes this season, and seven have 12 or more catches. Crabtree is having a Pro Bowl type season with 57 catches for 696 yards and 5 TDs.

From Curtis W: What is holding Amari Cooper back from being a great punt/kick returner?

JK: My personal opinion and observation is that it looks like he is trying to do too much. I'd like to see him catch a punt and head straight up field. He spends too much time cutting and dancing and looking to reverse his field. He needs to learn to take what's there.

From Isaac B: Why have we significantly reduced our downfield attacks? We haven't thrown the ball deep much in the last couple games.

JK: I think it's a combination of things. When teams look at the Raiders on film, the deeps threats and desire to go downfield is instantly recognizable. So, the opposition looks to take that away. The Raiders haven't been effective running the ball in recent weeks so teams haven't had to creep up and load the box with extra defenders to take the run away. The opposing pass rush has been better in recent weeks. Carr hasn't had time to sit in the pocket and wait for those longer routes to develop.

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From Paul T**: Would you like to see any players on the team emerge as more of a leader?

JK: I think the leadership is in place on this team. Carr, safety Charles Woodson…linebacker Malcom Smith has emerged. Rah-rah guys are great, but leading by example is what the great ones do. Right now, it's the execution I'd like to see improve.

From Alex B: How much of a must-win is this game for the Raiders?

JK: I've said it before…you almost have to look at every game in a 16-game season as "must-win." However, if the Raiders want to get back in the AFC Wild Card discussion, this is as must-win as it gets.

From Tommy S: What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? JK: Me personally? I love turkey, and for dessert I am an apple pie man. And yes, it may be a day late, but Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Thanks for reading.

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