Del Rio eyes NFL scoreboards with dual purposes


Del Rio eyes NFL scoreboards with dual purposes

Jack Del Rio is an NFL fan. That was the case 32 years ago, before beginning his career as a professional player and then coach.

His love for the league was fostered at Oakland Coliseum, cheering for his hometown Raiders. The job hasn’t changed things. Not one bit.

The Raiders have a bye this week, but their head coach will carve time to watch Sunday’s slate. As it was decades ago, Del Rio has a rooting interest.

He has always wanted the Raiders to succeed while rivals struggle. Now he needs that to happen.

Del Rio’s team is 4-5 heading into a Week 11 showdown with New England in Mexico City, with an uphill climb remaining to be a legitimate contender.

Del Rio could use a combination of Raiders wins and favorable results, which is what happened Sunday. The Chiefs, Broncos, Ravens and Bills lost. The Silver and Black beat Miami, and jumped from 14th to ninth in conference. They’re 1.5 games back of a wild card spot and two games behind Kansas City in the AFC West.

While adjacent results don’t matter if the Raiders lose too often, Del Rio admits to watching scoreboards even with so much football left.

“You can’t help but look. I mean if you’re a fan… Heck, I’m looking all the time,” Del Rio said Monday. “That’s just the fan aspect, but the professional aspect, we have to just focus on the process of what goes into playing really well, understanding your assignment, being accountable, doing your job, basic stuff. And that’s what we want to keep the focus of our attention.”

The Raiders focused inward during their bye and got ahead on their preparation for an excellent Patriots squad. But…since they can’t add to their win column this weekend, they wouldn’t mind having Buffalo and the New York Jets lose. A tie between the Jaguars and Chargers would be ideal. Having New England beat Denver wouldn’t hurt either.

That would be quite a parlay. No matter what happens, what will near future results mean?

“We’ll find out at the end,” Del Rio said. “We’ll find out at the end. For us, just keep stacking wins and find a way to win the next one and we have a tough challenge going against the Patriots.”

The Raiders face a brutal schedule, with the Patriots, Chiefs, Cowboys and Eagles highlighting the slate. The home stretch wouldn’t feel so daunting had the Raiders made hay early. Instead they lost to beatable teams and fell behind the back.

No one in the Raiders organization thought they’d had to watch scoreboards. That’s a chaser’s activity. Frontrunners are overwhelmingly concerned with their own results.

The Raiders hope to find consistency in all phases and go on a run.

"We need to get better on defense. We need to get better on offense and special teams,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “We have to improve. Our record is what it is, but we’re right in the thick of it. We have to worry about winning the next game. We’ve got to figure that out."

That has to happen in a hurry. They have to go 6-1 in remaining games to hit their target record.

“It’s been my experience in this league that you typically have to get to 10 and that doesn’t always get it done,” Del Rio said. “I think this year is one of those years where it’s very competitive throughout the league. I don’t know that there’s one team that’s so dominant that everybody shudders at the thought of playing them. I think there are a lot of good teams, and a lot of very capable teams. It’s a matter of going out and executing well and playing good football and finding a way to win on Sunday.

“The bottom line is you keep playing. Keep improving. You want to get hot at the right time. For us, there’s no time like the present to get hot.”

Will Raiders play in Oakland in 2019? Owner Mark Davis won’t comment


Will Raiders play in Oakland in 2019? Owner Mark Davis won’t comment

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued his first public comments since the city of Oakland announced it was suing the Raiders and the NFL in federal court, and they weren't inspiring for fans hoping the team plays one more year at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. 

ESPN's Paul Gutierrez asked Davis late Tuesday night whether or not Oakland's lawsuit would push the Raiders out of the East Bay. Davis was non-commital. 

"I have no comment on that at this time," Davis told ESPN. 

Davis previously told ESPN that he "personally" wanted the Raiders to play in Oakland in 2019 because he "can't turn on the fans." However, there was a catch.

"But if in fact it does get ugly [with Oakland], and can't be bridged, we do have options," Davis told ESPN last month. 

It may be headed in that direction. In a press release announcing it had filed a federal antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL, Oakland city attorney Barbara J. Parker did not mince words.

"The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league's own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city. The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill."

In the suit, the city claimed it "invested and borrowed significant sums of money, totaling over $240 million," all while expecting the Raiders would continue to play at the Coliseum. Davis told Gutierrez he thought the suit was "meritless and malicious."

The Raiders' 2018 home finale takes place on Christmas Eve. Will that Monday night game against the Denver Broncos be the Silver and Black's last at the Coliseum? We may get that answer sooner rather than later. 

Mark Davis cites 'tough' decision in firing Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie


Mark Davis cites 'tough' decision in firing Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie

The Raiders issued a statement Monday announcing general manager Reggie McKenzie no longer was with the team, but the words weren’t attached to anybody. It wasn’t coach Jon Gruden thanking McKenzie for his service, nor was it owner Mark Davis.

Gruden answered questions about McKenzie’s departure during his Monday press conference, but Davis didn’t say anything about it at first, though he was the one to let McKenzie go. He is, after all, the bosses’ boss.

Davis broke his silence on McKenzie’s firing in a brief Tuesday interview with NBC Sports California that focused solely on that topic.

“Reggie is a great person with a great family,” Davis said. “It was tough [to make the decision]. It was tough for him early on, but he was unselfish. He could’ve done some things for instant gratification, but he didn’t do that. He worked hard for our organization, and we are thankful for everything he did for the Raiders."

Davis is right -- it was tough early in McKenzie’s tenure, which started in 2012. The Raiders were in dire salary-cap straits, without many draft picks available to rebuild the roster. He made tough choices to get the team right financially, and he hit on enough draft picks to build a quality 12-4 squad in 2016.

Success wasn’t sustained, though, and it didn’t work with McKenzie and Gruden together this season despite Davis' best wishes that it would. Davis became close with McKenzie over the years as a friend, as well as in a business relationship, so the decision to fire the GM was difficult even with the 3-10 Raiders' struggles.

Davis will be involved in finding McKenzie’s replacement and the right executive to work with Gruden as he begins a roster rebuild this offseason.