Del Rio calls out Raiders' lack of confidence, didn't show any himself

Del Rio calls out Raiders' lack of confidence, didn't show any himself

Jack Del Rio thinks that the Oakland Raiders’ fortnight-long freefall is in considerable part a matter of diminishing confidence.
But that’s probably giving the fellows all the best of it. In getting handled by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, 30-17, the Raiders demonstrated that if their 2-3 record is a matter of confidence, they didn’t have much to begin with, and that it isn’t just the players giving off that vibe.
That they were worked by the stuttering Baltimores from start to finish is clear. Gaining only 245 yards in a mere 54 plays is a hint. Having only one offensive player – Michael Crabtree – stand out speaks a medley or two. Having its secondary reinflate Joe Flacco’s sense of self-worth from the game’s first scrimmage play is not surprising given the preseason analyses that pinpointed that as a clear weakness.
But even Riverboat Jack, the man who lent this team an additional air of panache by defying the precepts of doctrinaire football, emitted a sense that even in a moment where gambling was defensible, he didn’t believe that the reward outweighed the risk.
In other words, he punted the ball away with 8:58 to play, down 10 and facing a fourth-and-three from the Baltimore 44 – very not Riverboaty McRiverboatface by anyone’s standard.
The crowd, already conditioned to be in foul humor by early mistakes that gave the Ravens a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game, booed lustily as they saw their guy muck the few cards he had.
Not that it would have made a lot of difference given the way Baltimore’s offensive shoved the Raiders in any desired direction. As Del Rio said in his autopsy report, “Is that the difference today? I don’t think so.”
And he’s right. But then, he had always cast himself as the guy willing to die a gloriously frantic death, so his character as defined by the customers (and maybe by the players as well) demanded that he have backup quarterback E.J. Manuel try to convert that fourth down.
“It’s not easy (to call for the punt),” he said. “Hindsight is always 20/20 on things like that. You’re thinking you’re going to pin them inside the 10 and we didn’t (a touchback). You’re thinking the defense will give us a stop and get us the ball back, and we didn’t (the Ravens eat up 6:26 of the remaining 8:50 with a 13-play/10-run drive that resulted in a safety-first field goal). We get the ball back after having to call timeouts on the plus side of the field. It didn’t go anything like what it needed to.” 
That’s sort of when you expect him to double down, but he seemed to have lost some belief as the game went on as well. Not having Carr seems to do that to this team.
But this is not Manuel’s fault, either, for he is who he is. He had only one reliable weapon, Crabtree, and while Marshawn Lynch had his moments, Baltimore committed stoutly to the run in an effort to make the Raiders win by air power. It didn’t come close.
The defense had far fewer moments – Sean Smith beaten on the game’s first play by a Mike Wallace fly pattern was instructive, and the only time the defense impressed was when Baltimore coach John Harbaugh chosen to protect rather than fortify a two-touchdown lead in the second half.
In other words, this may be about confidence as Del Rio claims, but it may also be about overconfidence in what the Raiders are, and conversely, are not. Their offense is not “high-powered,” and their defense was eminently blockable for the second time in three weeks.
Moreover, they have stopped creating turnovers – two in the last three games, which explains in part why they are averaging 51 plays per game, last in the league. But they are also 29th in total yards, 30th in first downs, 29th in third down conversions and only the win over the New York Jets away from averaging less than two touchdowns per game.
They are not, in short, as advertised, which is why Del Rio answered a question about Carr’s availability next week, either for the Chargers or Chiefs games, by saying, “Yeah, I have that feel.”
After all, Carr’s healing gifts aside, the Raiders are already spending their margin for error too early. Whether that is confidence or underexamined shortfalls, the time for soul-searching is already nearing its end. They either do, or they do not. And time, she’s a’wastin’.

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”