Raiders

Need good news about Raiders and 49ers? The Warriors start on Tuesday

Need good news about Raiders and 49ers? The Warriors start on Tuesday

Well, that football season came and went pretty quickly.

As we enter Week 7 (and look in the rear view mirror at Weeks 1-6 with disdain and nausea), we have an 0-6 team in San Francisco shedding veterans and imitating the Los Angeles Chargers for their ability to vomit up close game, and a 2-4 team in Oakland which just lost a close game to the Chargers.

Hurray. The Warriors start Tuesday.

The 49ers lost again, this time in Washington, 26-24, and are now historically eliminated from the postseason, as only one 0-4 team – the 1992 Chargers – have ever reached the postseason. That is not a surprise, nor any enduring disappointment. The 49ers work hard and do not quit, but they are not yet qualified to figure out how to win – close or any other kind of games. They are in the process of de-building, which is stripping the house down to its studs and rebuilding, and losses like Sunday’s are well within acceptable norms.

But the Raiders also lost Sunday, at home to the ridiculous Chargers, 17-16, and their chances of making the playoffs are now a paltry 9.5 percent (it has happened 22 of 231 times since the season was extended to 16 games in 1978).

In other words, if you are a loyal front-runner, you have the Warriors and Stanford football. You have St. Mary’s basketball and Stanford women’s basketball. And then you’ve got a lot of hope-for-the-best, abandon-all-hope, and despair drinking.

This is not how it was plotted, of course. The Raiders were supposed to contend, and Marshawn Lynch was supposed to channel the powers of Oaktown in that pursuit. But no, they are currently tied for 29th in the overall standings, and Oakland’s power to effect change are in serious jeopardy.

Now they host Kansas City Thursday, whose attention to detail was re-inspired by losing at home to Pittsburgh. If the Raiders have the get-up-and-go Jack Del Rio keeps saying they do, the time for getting up and going has, well, damned near already passed.

But it helps get through the week at the water cooler, C.J. Beathard had a better quarterback rating than Derek Carr. Go have a fistfight in the lunch room over that.

And remember, the Warriors start Tuesday.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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USATSI

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

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USATSI

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.”