Jack Del Rio taking emotion out of return to Jacksonville

Jack Del Rio taking emotion out of return to Jacksonville

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was in Jacksonville longer than any stop in his athletic career. Del Rio the football player was never in one place longer than four seasons. He was Jaguars head coach for nearly nine years, a position he held for most of his 40s.

Del Rio considers it a time of tremendous growth, especially in his current profession.

Sunday’s game will be his first in Jacksonville since he was let go, though Del Rio says emotion won’t overpower.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, so I’ve gone back to a few places before. It’s not the first time going back to places where I’ve been,” Del Rio said Wednesday. “I think I’ll be okay.”

Del Rio had good times and bad in Jacksonville. He had three winning seasons and two playoff appearances. The Jaguars have been terrible since he was fired following a 3-8 start to 2011.

Things didn’t ended well for Del Rio in Jacksonville. When a head coach moves on, they rarely do.

Del Rio holds no ill will towards the Jaguars. He’s thankful former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver gave him the opportunity to become a first time head coach.

Weaver wanted someone with head coaching experience to replace Tom Coughlin. Del Rio won him over in the interview.

"I saw a bright light, a bright eye . . . a guy who was very organized, very detailed and full of confidence," Weaver said in 2003, via the Florida Times-Union.

Del Rio overcame a lack of experience with preparation. He brought a book full of plans for what he would do as Jaguars head coach, a comprehensive overview of how to bring Jacksonville back to prominence.

"Jack brought in a book this thick," Weaver said, holding his hands about 6 inches apart, via the Florida Times-Union. "It had every process, from building a staff to evaluating the roster to offseason conditioning, free agency, the draft, training camp . . . all of it."

Del Rio still has that book. It contains great information learned from mentors Brian Billick and John Fox while preparing to be a head coach.

“I credit Brian a lot for that organizational structure that I had and then John Fox,” Del Rio said. “He was the one that introduced me to putting all of that information into the book and rather than being power point or something because you’d be able to have that face to face with the owner.”

Experience has taught Del Rio so much more since then. He believes he’s a better head coach than he was before, especially reflection during three seasons as Denver defensive coordinator.

Del Rio comes back to Jacksonville leading a a 4-2 Raiders team on the rise. He’s found that there are some things not in the book.

“When you first get an opportunity to sit in this head coach seat, the amount of volume that you have to deal with, the decisions that you have to make, I don’t know that you’re really prepared for it until you get in there and start doing it,” Del Rio said. “I’ve gained an incredible amount of insight into what it takes in this profession. I feel much more prepared, obviously, having nine years of experience there and four games in Denver as the interim (head coach) and a year and a half here.

“Certainly, that experience, being in that chair and making decisions, running the staff, running the team, organizing practice, the way you travel, all the things that we do that lead up, the process that I talk about, the process of being a good team, all of it entails really, it starts with the head coach.”

Del Rio will be the opposing head coach on Sunday, and believes he’ll be received as all opponents are. That could bring some boos. He’ll be fine with it. There are few who know Del Rio then and now, though Raiders free safety Reggie Nelson is one.

The former Jaguar wouldn’t compare Del Rio's past and present, but said he wants to win in Del Rio’s return.

“It’s going to be exciting for him,” Nelson said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll put on a show. We know what’s at stake. It’s going to be a good game.”

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.