Monday a somber Jack Del Rio took to the podium for his regular weekly press conference and sounded a whole lot like a fan.
“Here’s what I know,” Del Rio led out. “As players and coaches we are as frustrated and pissed off about what occurred yesterday as you can be, as anybody out there is. Losing a game like that hurts and there are no words that I can say here today that are gonna take away that pain or make those that care about the Raiders feel better, so I’m really not gonna try, alright?
“We gotta coach it better, we gotta execute it better. We’re tied together, players and coaches. . . It didn’t go the way any of us wanted. We gotta man up, step up, go onto the next one and control what we can, which is our effort and our energy and our focus and our determination in the next ball game.”
Obviously that would pertain mostly to the offense, which didn’t score a single point in the game when it still mattered. So, how does the offense ‘man up’ and ‘step up’? What Del Rio sees is a timidity throughout the team, and particularly on offense.
“I think there have been many examples throughout this season where we have not played boldly to go make the plays and I would really like to see that,” said Del Rio. “Because at the end of the day if you go halfway, it’s not good enough anyway. So, I’d love to see us just let it rip and go play. Talked about hair on fire, talked about that kind of effort and energy, playing fast, that’s what I believe in. And I’d love to see it more often.”
Del Rio went on to say the idea of playing ‘boldly’ is something that would be more difficult to try and describe than it would be to show it on tape. Something, he hopefully has done and will continue to do with the team this week.
He added that he has seen glimpses of it throughout the season and presumably no greater example of that would be the last time they faced the Chiefs when they pulled out a 31-30 come-from-behind victory that was reminiscent of last season. The team that took the field Sunday looked nothing like that early on. That’s where Del Rio asks the same question every Raiders fan has been asking themselves since yesterday afternoon.
“Look at the way the fourth quarter played out,” Del Rio said in obvious frustration. “Where was that the first three quarters? Just look at that. I thought we played with more urgency and intensity and all that. It’s a little late when you’re down 26-0. But you saw glimpses of it there. Guys were making plays, getting off the field on D, offensively moving the ball, throwing the ball, making guys miss, all the things that you gotta do to come alive. We didn’t do enough of that early in the game.”
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders scored two touchdowns with a 2-point conversion to give the final score of 26-15. And those two scoring drives left everyone wondering how they can just turn it on like that and if so, what took them so long.
There is no teeth to this Raiders team. The same one that could never be counted out of a game last season and even though the defense was porous, it was opportunistic. Now they gum their way through the game with check downs on offense and huge cushions and soft spots on defense.
The fans and media will try to get to the bottom of the issue, but only the coaches and players can really know the answer. And if they’re asking the same questions as the rest of us, we’ve got a very real problem.