Jackson to meet with McClain


Jackson to meet with McClain

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Raiders coach Hue Jackson spoke to reporters following Friday's practice and discussed the Rolando McClain situation before the team left for their charter flight to Florida.

Jackson intimated he might take action against McClain in the form of a suspension before the NFL got involved. Remember, on the Monday of the Raiders' bye week, Jackson was asked what his message was to players as they left town for a few days.

"What I told them" Jackson said on Oct. 24, "most important is one, that you represent this organization and this team, and don't do anything stupid that will cost youto be a member of this football team. That's first and foremost."

Friday, though, Jackson said he was hoping to speak with McClain face-to-face "in the next several hours," presumably at the team hotel this evening, after the team arrived in Fort Lauderdale.

A sampling, then, of Jackson's Q&A with the media earlier Friday afternoon

Question: What is Rolando's current status with the team?
The status of Rolando is this: Coach Jackson now has gotten more information that I can now make a very informed decision on what I think is best for our football team and I'll do that here in the next day or so. Obviously, there's a situation that's happened, and I've had an opportunity to digest it all, and see it all, but at this time, I think what's most important for our organization is that we focus on this football game. Because I have 52 other players that are doing things the right way and doing things as I see they should be doing it and we're getting ready to play a game, and I will deal with Rolando when that time comes.

Question: Is Rolando here?
Here in Oakland? No, he's not. He is not here in Oakland. Obviously, he's not in jail. I hope to see him in the next several hours, myself, personally and then we'll go from there.

Question: Are you disturbed by how this makes the organization look?
I'm disturbed by everything. Anything that hurts this organization or hurts this football team and what we talk about and what we're trying to become, I'm very disturbed by it. Here's the bottom line -- there's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things, and obviously, there was something done wrong. So we'll go and deal with that accordingly from there.

Question: Are you confident Darryl Blackstock can step up if at middle linebacker if need be?
I'm confident that whatever we decide to do this football team will rally and play as well as it's ever played.

Question: At this point, have you ruled him out for Sunday?
I haven't done that yet, but again, I will deal with that, I don't have to do that right now. I'll do that as we continue to move forward.

Question: How concerned are you with this situation being a distraction?
Not with this team. I'm not concerned with it. I'm not going to let anybody stop this train from where it's going. I don't care who it is, and I think the team's that way. And this team has taken on my personality, and I know that and I believe that. We're not going to get concerned about anybody that's not on the train the right way. We're going to get ready to go to Miami to win a football game. That's all they know, that's all I know, and that's what we're going to be concerned about.

Question: Would you wait for the NFL to hand down any kind of discipline, or would you just act on behalf of the Raiders?
Absolutely. The league's going to do what they're going to do, and I respect that. But this isn't right now about the league. This is about the Raiders and this organization and coach Jackson and this football team. We'll deal with it accordingly when that time comes. Again, until I have an opportunity to sit down with the player face to face, will I finalize my determination.

Question: Were you angry when you heard about this? Things were going well then this happened.
Things are going to still go well. We're not going to let one thing bring down what we're accomplishing, by no stretch of the imagination. Am I disappointed? Yes. Just like anything. You get disappointed in your kids. All these guys are like my sons. And when they make mistakes there's consequences and things that you have to deal with. And we'll deal with that accordingly. But we're moving forward. I know that these are things we have to talk about and deal with and we will, but this football team has a big game to play, and that's what the story is really about. It's about a game, and that's what we need to go do is go play a good football game.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice


Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing


Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”