The Oakland Raiders are currently 2-3, have lost three straight games and only have a 12.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, per ESPN’s Football Power Index.
The season is hanging in the balance with the Los Angeles Chargers coming to town on Sunday and the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday. If the Raiders lose both, the team would fall to 2-5 and the season will be in serious jeopardy. Even if they can snagged one win, it would still be difficult to catch Kansas City. As a result, this stretch could decide Raiders coach Jack Del Rio’s future.
If Del Rio doesn’t turn it around and Oakland misses the playoffs, should owner Mark Davis consider letting Del Rio go?
Del Rio prides himself on defense
Del Rio is a defensive coach and it is not fair to judge him based upon on the offense’s performances. It is fairly easily to conclude that quarterback Derek Carr is the main reason for the offensive success. Just look at what the team looks like with him and without.
In regards to the defense, Del Rio is in his third season but has yet to turn around the No. 23 ranked defense in 2017.
When the former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator took over, the defense was ranked No. 21 in total yards against under former head coaches Dennis Allen and Tony Sparano. Since Del Rio’s arrival, the Raiders ranked No. 22 in 2015 and No. 26 in 2016.
Del Rio is a former NFL linebacker yet Oakland’s linebacker play has been among the worst in the league for years. The team has had a different starting middle linebacker in each of the past three seasons including Curtis Lofton, Perry Riley Jr., Marquel Lee and now undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow this Sunday against the Chargers.
Consequently, the corps has been sub-par in the running game despite having a head coach and defensive coordinator in Ken Norton Jr. who played linebacker in the NFL.
To start the 2017 season, Oakland was dominated by the Washington Redskins and gave up two drives combining for over 12 minutes to seal the loss in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. A pathetic performance considering it was a home game, a statement game with Carr out, and the team was on a two game losing streak.
The team needs an attitude improvement
Despite having a 2016 MVP candidate at QB, an elite offensive line and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the Raiders have been embarrassed in three straight weeks. Their season seemed to be on the line last week since they could fall three games behind red-hot Kansas City and one and a half games behind Denver with a loss. Knowing the circumstances, Oakland came out of the gates slow and was down 14 points after just two possessions.
For the rest of the game, the defense played without passion giving up 30 points to an anemic Baltimore offense. Also, the supposed great offensive line couldn’t find a consistent ground game against the No. 23 ranked run defense.
Usually, stopping the run and running the football is an attitude. Back when Jim Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers, they could run the ball down any defense’s throat.
Moreover, Super Bowl contending football teams rarely lose multiple games in a row. Harbaugh didn’t until his last season in San Francisco and Bill Belichick is almost always guaranteed to have a dominant week following a loss.
Teams’ true makeup are often revealed after losses. Right now, the Raiders and Del Rio don’t have that special make up to win a game with determination, attitude and will as they have lost three straight and are staring at four straight losses while starting a quarterback with three broken bones in his back on Sunday.
Del Rio lacks scheme innovation
Heading into the 2017 season, the Raiders with Carr quarterback have had a record of just 2-16 against playoff teams. He did go 0-5 in his rookie season, but that still means he has had a record of 2-11 against playoff teams with Del Rio in charge.
Usually, playoffs teams have great coaches, so these losses show the discrepancy between the coaching among the Raiders and other football teams.
In all honesty, one doesn’t have to look much farther than the Chiefs and Andy Reid. Del Rio has yet to beat Kansas City and none of those games have been close.
In their second meeting in 2015, Carr threw three second half interceptions at home to essentially seal the fate of Oakland missing the playoffs for another season.
Both of last year’s games Carr looked absolutely horrendous while the defense was giving up big plays to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, a player who uses gadget type plays to get involved in the offense.
The Chiefs might have the more talented all-around team, but the Raiders should have a major advantage at quarterback and should be playing Kansas City closely in every single game. However, that has rarely been the case because of the mismatch between Reid and Del Rio that fans and the media often overlook.
If the Chiefs continue to dominate in 2017 and Oakland misses the playoffs, it will be Kansas City’s division until the day the Raiders can find an elite head coach. This not only holds true for the Chiefs, but any coach or team that Oakland wants to get by in the AFC playoffs. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Raiders look completely outmatched if they do find themselves playing into January against a top-tier head coach.
Great franchises expect Lombardi trophies. With Carr at the helm, the Raiders should expect Super Bowl berths, not just playoff berths. And certainly not missing the playoffs altogether.
If the Raiders miss the playoffs this season, should Mark Davis move on from Jack Del Rio?
This poll is closed