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ALAMEDA - Jack Del Rio had the kind of day that makes NFL coaches reach for the Excedrin. Time after time at Monday’s press conference at Raiders headquarters, Del Rio turned to his right, nodded at team media relations director Will Kiss and said, “I didn’t even know about that until Will told me five minutes ago.”

Among the grease fires Del Rio encountered throughout the day were rookie cornerback Gareon Conley announcing via Instagram that he was undergoing surgery on his damaged shin; the Broncos (who happen to be the upcoming opponent) firing their offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, and replacing him with the man who orchestrated the Oakland offense last year, Bill Musgrave; and the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, sniping at one of Del Rio’s players,running back Marshawn Lynch, for refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Mexico City on Sunday.

That last event presumably is what prompted the coach’s wife, Linda Del Rio, to tweet that she regretted voting for Trump a year ago. She later deleted the tweet.

Jack Del Rio had no desire to elaborate on any of this TMZ material.

“The bottom line is I’m here to coach the football team,” he said. “That’s my job, that’s my role and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Ah. About that, Coach…

Perhaps Del Rio should have launched into a 20-minute oration on the evils of Instagram or the value of peaceful protest, because the alternative may lead to an even more unpleasant conversation. His football team is a mess right now.

Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the Patriots only served as confirmation.

Granted, New England is a very good team, and Tom Brady is a spectacular quarterback, even at the age of 73. But the Raiders were unsatisfactory in so many areas in that game. The receivers couldn’t catch, the pass rushers couldn’t generate pressure and the defensive backs couldn’t cover anyone. By the end of the romp, the “home team” was being serenaded by chants of “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!”

On the other hand, there are some highly encouraging factors regarding the remainder of the Raiders’ season. They are Tennessee, Buffalo, Baltimore and Kansas City.

Those are the teams the 4-6 Raiders are chasing for an AFC playoff spot, and none of them is setting the world on fire. In fact, a couple of them are setting themselves on fire. The Bills benched a solid quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, and replaced him with a kid named Nathan Peterman who doled out interceptions to the Chargers on Sunday as if he were shooting souvenirs from a T-shirt cannon. And the Chiefs, Super Bowl darlings as recently as early October, have lost five of six — including a 12-9 overtime pratfall against the Giants, who were last seen losing to the previously winless 49ers on Nov. 12.

The coach is optimistic the Raiders can rise to the top.

“I think it’s close and I think we’re capable,” Del Rio said Monday. “We just have to find that spark where it happens.”

He added: “We weren’t good enough yesterday, clearly. But as you said, you look up. Where are we? In second place in our division. We’re a game off the wild-card pace. We’re two out of the division lead. There’s six games left, so there’s a lot of hope.”

And a lot of frustration out there in Raider Nation. More and more, it’s the coaching staff that is being targeted.

I know, I know. It wasn’t a coach who had Derek Carr’s deep pass bounce off his shoulder pads and into the arms of an opposing safety, it was wide receiver Johnny Holton. And it wasn’t a coach who fumbled at the New England 3 inside of a minute before halftime, it was receiver Seth Roberts.

But against Bill Belichick’s team, the limitations of the Oakland brain trust were more than evident.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has been backpedaling for a year and a half now, and his unit isn’t getting better. The Patriots were missing two starting offensive linemen, but the Raiders rarely threatened Brady, who isn’t known for his mobility. The Raiders have one of the NFL’s best edge defenders in Khalil Mack. Why wasn’t Norton able to find a way to disrupt Brady?

New England pushed its lead to 24-0 on the third play of the third quarter, a 64-yard deep strike from Brady to Brandin Cooks. The cover man on the play was Obi Melifonwu, a rookie safety playing in his second NFL game. And for some inexplicable reason, the outgunned Melifonwu had no safety help on the play. Please tell me that’s not how the coverage was drawn up.

And this year the Raiders have grave concerns on offense, too. They didn’t last year, when Musgrave was calling plays and Carr was throwing for nearly 4,000 yards. But with Todd Downing having replaced the former offensive coordinator, everything is grinding to a standstill.

The Raiders actually ran the ball quite well against the Patriots. But where the heck is Amari Cooper, who last year looked as though he was on the verge of all-pro status? Cooper did have a touchdown Sunday, and it was a brilliant effort. But his totals — 3 receptions, 28 yards — are reflective of his hushed season. Outside of one monster game against the Chiefs, Cooper has averaged 31.1 yards per game in 2017. That’s a typical quarter for Antonio Brown.

The real burr in the hide of Raiders fans came at the 4:45 mark of the third quarter, when the team faced fourth-and-inches close to midfield. Del Rio said go for it, and what Downing went for was a handoff to Jamize Olawale. Not Marshawn Lynch, who was in the midst of his best game of the season and averaged 6.1 yards per carry, but the fullback. The Patriots dumped Olawale for no gain.

And presiding over all of it is Del Rio, who in June was bestowed a contract extension through 2020. It was he who traded Musgrave for Downing, and he who has made some questionable punt-or-go-for-it decisions, and it was the former linebacker who must take ultimate responsibility for this defense.

As former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon said on CBS Sports Network on Monday: “The defense has never been right under Jack Del Rio.”

I posted Gannon’s comment on my Twitter feed, and a number of Raiders fans piled on the coach in their replies. What’s more, some of them were using Twitter names like “4-12 #FireDelRio” and “PRESIDENT MARSHAWN LYNCH (FIRE DEL RIO)” and “Raiders HC, OC and DC all weak.”

Yes, the natives are restless, and so is Del Rio. His press conference here was cordial. But almost immediately afterward, he went on 95.7 FM with host Damon Bruce, and the conversation was, shall we say, prickly.

“Well, look, I’m not sure what kind of show you want to have today, but I’m doing the best I can to talk about our football team, and it sounds like you want to try and pin it on somebody,” Del Rio said at one point. “I always offer my own neck, and if you want to pin it on somebody, just go ahead and pin it on me.”

We will, Coach. You can bet we will. You can reach staff writer Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post

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