Del Rio: Raiders need to be better, even after 7-2 start

Del Rio: Raiders need to be better, even after 7-2 start

The Raiders were up two scores late in Sunday night’s game against Denver, with one objective in mind.

Kill the clock.

The Broncos had just cut the lead to 10 points with a quick touchdown. Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t want to give them another chance.

A Raiders run game that dominated from the outset was asked to be a closer, to put the Broncos away with a long, sustained drive.

The offense took possession with five minutes left, and only cut Denver’s clock in half. The Broncos got the ball back, but squandered an opportunity. Reggie Nelson intercepted a pass four snaps later to secure a 30-20 victory that put the Raiders atop the AFC West.

Del Rio was obviously happy with a dominant win over a division rival. He wants more. He wants better, even after the season’s most complete game.

“I think it was closest,” Del Rio said. “I think all three phases certainly contributed in the game. I think they had really good moments, all three. We see a lot of things that can be better. That’s what we’re going to keep working at. I don’t know if you ever reach that perfect performance you’re striving for anyway, but there are things that we need to clean up that we need to be better at.”

Welcome, Raiders fans, to Del Rio’s new world order.

Standards are sky high for a recently downtrodden franchise in the midst of a renaissance. The Raiders are 7-2 heading into a bye week, but Del Rio believes they can be better.

Del Rio hosts “Tell the Truth Tuesday” each week, where he’s brutally honest with players and coaches about past performance. The players got this Tuesday off during a bye week, but the reaper’s coming before Wednesday’s practice. But, after Sunday’s resounding win, Del Rio will pass out candy and coal.

“We’re telling the truth about the good, too,” Del Rio said. “So we’re showing really physical play and we’re showing the things we want to see; the crisp effort and acknowledging what was really good. Then we’re going to be honest about things we have to do better, and that’s everywhere. That starts with me. I’ll point out a thing or two that I could have done better. That’s really how we approach it. Nobody is shielded from that. Nobody is above criticism or above being able to be held accountable.”

Del Rio might have to nit pick. The offense is well balanced and scoring 27.5 points per game. The coverage units are top notch. Even a widely criticized defense is on the rise after allowing less than 300 yards in consecutive games.

His players aren’t satisfied, clearly hoping to do something special this season. They trust Del Rio’s process, and trust that he wants and expects more.

“I’m pretty straightforward about it with the staff and with the players about what we’re looking for and what championship football looks like,” Del Rio said. “We’re just going to push for it. It takes time to develop and to grow. The good news is we recognize where these areas are, yet we’re winning. Being able to win, you put that big smile on. You go home and feel good about things. Lay your head down at night, but wake up in the morning knowing you have work to do and there are things we must improve.”

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.