Yesterday former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio spoke to NFL.com and broached a lot of subjects about the team of which he grew up a fan and had the chance to coach for three seasons. He had some interesting takes.
The old ball coach, who has been out of coaching since being unceremoniously fired immediately after the 2017 season finale against the Chargers, said he has no regrets about how he went about things. Even though there isn’t a person with a brain who doesn’t think replacing Bill Musgrave with Todd Downing wasn’t his undoing. Del Rio instead thinks in both of his stops in Jacksonville and Oakland that it was not getting the players he wanted.
“Maybe [I should have] spoken up about personnel issues that weren’t going how I wanted them to go. That’s probably the one area that’s a little frustrating. I had two stints as a head coach and the guys that I worked with were good guys, but I never felt like I got the guys I needed.”
Del Rio clearly still feels like he should be an NFL head coach. Del Rio noted that in both stops, the team he coached got worse after he left, seemingly using that as proof of that. Even though he won just one playoff game in 12 years as a head coach with the Jaguars and Raiders.
He had some criticisms of the new regime in Oakland. Most notably the trade of Khalil Mack.
“Every team makes their own decision and [the Raiders] have every right to do what they feel is best for the team. My only point is when you have a player of that quality on and off the field -- I mean, I could really lay my head down at night and sleep peacefully knowing Khalil Mack was never going to be in trouble. He’s a prince of a man. He’s a great human being, a great teammate, a really hard worker and a really, really great player. To me, you collect those guys.
“The ones you want to get rid of are guys who have some sort of problem you know is going to pop up eventually. Or some flaw or injury or whatever it might be. There are a lot of different reasons to sour on a player and remove them from your team. I just don’t think [Mack] is a type you remove.”
Del Rio also doesn’t see the complete package of Mack in any of the pass rushers in this draft.
There’s little question had Del Rio still been in Oakland, he would have fought to keep Mack in house and it’s very possible he would have gotten his way.
A player Del Rio may not have been so eager to add was Antonio Brown.
“I love the talent, but [Antonio Brown] has clearly shown that he’s going to be a pain in the ass. He’s a very talented guy and I would love to have him. I would work with him no problem. If [players] have talent, you tend to tolerate it a little bit unless it becomes disruptive to your team. He’s going to have to learn that to really help the team. If he continues doing the things he’s been doing, just like he upset the Steelers, he’s going to upset the next team he’s on. There are certain things -- I mean, this is America and he’s free to do what he wants -- but those aren’t the things that are indicative of a good teammate. The working hard and being a good player definitely helps the team, which is why he’ll continue to get chances to be special until his skills deteriorate. That’s when people will get tired of him.”
Brown joined the Raiders in part to play with Derek Carr. Though Del Rio thinks there are signs Gruden could be moving on from Carr.
“Every coach has to make his own choice on who he’s going to connect himself with [at quarterback]. I had three years where I enjoyed that connection with Derek [Carr]. Coach Gruden has to make that determination whether he has that connection with Derek. There were rumblings coming out of there last year that make us ask [if Gruden is moving on], and they’re kicking the tires on some of these quarterbacks. It makes you wonder. But that’s their call.”
For the most part, Del Rio is taking a break. A much needed one, actually. From bring a player to being a coach, he had been in football for 34 years straight. He said he has been traveling the past year, spending time with his wife, and is in the best shape he’s been in ten years. That will continue for another year as he said no opportunity arose that he wanted to take.
Perhaps we will see Del Rio on the sideline in the future. Perhaps at the college level. Or if he finds he likes offering up his opinions like this, maybe behind a desk in front of a camera. Who knows.