While there was no Jim Mora, Dennis Green or (in Raider terms) “Bill Callahan-esque” post-game blowup from Jack Del Rio, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for the Oakland Raiders head coach to beat around the bush at the podium.
“Hindsight is always 20/20 on things like that,” the Raiders head coach was quick to answer when questioned about the decision to punt on 4th and 3 down by 10 in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss. “You’re thinking you’re going to pin them inside the 10, we didn’t. You’re thinking the defense will give us a stop and get us the ball back, we didn’t. We get the ball back after having to call timeouts on the plus-side of the field.
“It didn’t go anything like what we needed to. A fourth-down call with nine minutes left in the game, 10 minutes left in the game, was the difference today? I don’t think so.”
Del Rio is right. Punting the ball away there wasn’t the difference. A defensive-minded coach should be able to rely on his defense. After all, 8:42 remained on the clock and all Oakland had to do was force the Baltimore Ravens to go 3-and-out. No dice.
That, my friends, was the difference.
Baltimore engineered a domineering clock-killing drive (bled a staggering 6:26 off the clock) by running at an Oakland defense missing thumping inside linebacker Marquel Lee and outside backer Cory James (due to injury).
Del Rio was also quick to answer the “how does the defense get better” inquiry.
“Yeah, play with more confidence,” he said. “Fluttered balls in the air, not coming up with them. To me, it’s a confidence thing.”
I know what you’re asking yourself: “Del Rio had confidence in a defense that he says has confidence issues?”
Broached with a similar question, linebacker Bruce Irvin — who has been absent in the pass rush department — doesn’t think confidence is the issue.
“I think we’re just facing adversity right now,” he said. “Coming into the year you all were telling us how good we are. I don’t know if we believed it or not, but it’s like this. It’s not the first time I’ve been in a situation like this.
“It’s the fifth game. We have 11 more games. We have time to turn it around but it’s if we want it or not. We have to come into work and take this (stuff) serious or we’ll continue to lose.”
According to quarterback EJ Manuel, Del Rio measured the player’s sincerity in the locker room.
“He paused and looked everybody at everybody,” Manuel said. “I kind of felt like he looked every man in the eye to see what kind of team we had, what kind of make-up we had.”
Like Irvin, wide receiver Seth Roberts believes the team needs some self-reflection after three-straight defeats.
“We have to look in the mirror, man, and correct it because we still have a long time to go,” he said. “It’s Week 6 next week.”
Frustration is mounting within the Raiders: players voicing their opinions and on the outside, fans tempers flaring.
“I don’t even know what to say really, it’s just bad shock,” Richard explained. “We keep getting our ass whooped. This is going to come down to when are we going to get tired of getting our ass whooped?”
Tight end Lee Smith is a gentleman and a scholar. Leave it to Beard Mode to do so.
“If you were to tell me we’d be (2-3) in August, I’d have bet you a lot of money you were wrong. I don’t know if I’m allowed to bet, but I would have. It is what it is,” Lee said. “Like Jack said (to players after the loss), enough with ‘We’re better than this.’ No. We’re a (2-3) football team. … That’s what we’ve earned. That’s who we are right now.”
But I leave you with this: The best question didn’t come from the media. It came from No. 30.
“I don’t even know what to say really, it’s just bad shock,” said running back Jalen Richard. “We keep getting out ass whooped. This is going to come down to when are we going to get tired of getting our ass whooped?”
Would you answer the question, Jack?