Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

PHOENIX -- Jack Del Rio’s sat down for his annual media breakfast Tuesday morning surrounded by cameras. The Raiders head coach was the main attraction at this AFC function at the NFL owners meetings, and it wasn’t because his team finished 12-4 last year.

Most of this media throng wasn’t there to ask about Derek Carr’s rehab from fibula surgery or position battles waged during the offseason program.

They wanted to know about Vegas, baby, Vegas.

The Raiders were approved to relocate there Monday and he was asked about how he’ll deal with relocation issues despite the fact Del Rio will coach the Oakland Raiders for as many as three seasons.

That limbo length is unprecedented, leaving Del Rio without a road map for how to ease concerns about the future.

“It’s a little unique,” Del Rio said. “There isn’t a handbook out there. If there is, send it to me. There isn’t one out there. We’ll draw on the experiences we have in the group, and do the best we can to put a plan together and execute it.”

Del Rio said he’ll address relocation with his players once they convene for the offseason program, and try to keep them focused on the present. He recommends discussion with anxious family members as well, and to reiterate that there’s an extended stretch where relocation is only a concept.

“If you go back to this basic principle: It’s a year-to-year league,” Del Rio said. “Heck, it’s a week-to-week league. Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves. There is a story that’s going to be written that’s going to take off.

“We have to focus on the here and now. So much of the team turns over anyway, from the coaching staffs to the roster. Let’s just focus on taking care of business.”

Del Rio brought up a good point, that NFL rosters turnover at roughly 30 percent each year and coaching staffs fluctuate, so it’s possible many may never be a Raider playing in Vegas.

Del Rio anticipates being involved in the construction and amenities of a practice facility in the Las Vegas area at some point, though a location hasn’t been chosen yet. He said the Raiders have had discussions on how to help players and staff with the eventual transition and with player outreach to mitigate issues regarding readily available vices in Sin City.

Del Rio said he would ask Raiders alumni about the move to Los Angeles in the 1980s, and use their experience to help in this upcoming move.

He answered every question on this topic Tuesday morning, but hopes to move on from it when the offseason program begins next month.

“For us, it’s really about getting back to the task of the upcoming season,” Del Rio said. “We know we’re going to have nine games not on our home turf. We have a demanding schedule, and it’s going to be imperative that, as a football team, we focus on the here and now. … We had a good, strong year last year and we’re looking forward to building on that.”

Las Vegas will remain a topic moving forward, and Del Rio will be prepared to deal with the unexpected as he sails uncharted waters.

“(After this), maybe I can write a handbook I can pass out to the next team in this spot,” Del Rio said. “For me, it’s something you have to navigate. You have to appreciate some of the things that are coming, know what they are and address them.”

Watch Jon Gruden's speech after Raiders' last-second win vs. Cardinals


Watch Jon Gruden's speech after Raiders' last-second win vs. Cardinals

The Raiders haven't had much to celebrate this season.

Sunday's last-second 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals was the Silver and Black's second victory in the second Jon Gruden Era. That didn't dampen any of the head coach's enthusiasm, however.

"I'm so proud of all you guys," Gruden told the team in his postgame victory speech in Arizona. "You learn a lot about [yourselves] going home after that 49er game with your head in your hands. But what you learned is you're the most mentally tough team in football, and that's gonna go a long way -- that's gonna serve us well."

The Raiders scored a touchdown for the first time in three weeks Sunday, and quarterback Derek Carr orchestrated a last-minute drive to seal the win. Carr and the Raiders needed nine plays to go 63 yards and set up Daniel Carlson's game-winning, 35-yard field goal as time expired. 

The Raiders hit the road again in Week 12, traveling to the East Coast to face the Baltimore Ravens. They'd move further away from the No. 1 overall draft pick, but a win would clinch Gruden's first winning streak since he returned to the sideline this season.

Now, imagine that victory speech. 

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 23-21 road win over Cardinals


Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 23-21 road win over Cardinals


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Raiders held a fourth-quarter lead Sunday, then saw it vanish. But this time, Derek Carr and Co. led a comeback for a thrilling victory on the road.

The game against the Arizona Cardinals was a close one, a meeting of two poor yet evenly matched teams. The Raiders had a lead, lost it and couldn’t get it back until their third attempt.

[RELATED: Derek Carr, Jon Gruden argue on Raiders' sideline vs. Cardinals]

The third time, it seemed, was the charm.

Carr threw a 32-yard pass to Marcell Ateman, then found Seth Roberts for 20 more as time ticked away, setting up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning 35-yard field goal as time expired.

And just like that, the Raiders had won their second game of the season. They beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 at State Farm Stadium with a dramatic comeback, when the game felt like it was headed for yet another Raiders loss.

Here are three quick takeaways from the Raiders' comeback win:

Big plays allowed are a killer (again)

The Raiders' defense played pretty well Sunday, but two big plays kept the Cardinals in the game and helped them establish a lead.

Poor tackling and angles allowed Christian Kirk to take a short pass and go 59 yards for a touchdown to put Arizona ahead 14-7 in the first half. Oakland's defense held strong for two and a half quarters, and then the levees broke again.

David Johnson ran through the Raiders' front seven late in the fourth quarter for a 53-yard gain that put the Cardinals in the red zone. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen found veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald a few plays later for a go-ahead touchdown with five minutes left.

Ground game running strong

The Raiders found a way to gain steady yards on the ground against the NFL’s 29th-ranked run defense, which helped balance the offense and provide a key source of production.

The Silver and Black averaged 4.6 yards per carry in this contest, with Doug Martin and Jalen Richard especially productive. Martin had 52 yards on 10 carries, and Richard had 61 on his 11 attempts. Even DeAndre Washington got in on the act late in this result.

That took pressure off a struggling Oakland air attack, an option allowed because the game was close and the Raiders often had a lead. That has been unusual in the last five games, where the Raiders have lost by at least 14 points.

It’s a positive sign that the run game is making strides, though the opponent must be considered in that evaluation. If the Raiders can keep running strong, that will be something to build on as the season progresses and the calendar turns to 2019.

Takeaways play a big part

The Silver and Black have struggled taking the ball away, but Rosen’s errant throws made life a little easier in that effort.

Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph had interceptions, setting up excellent field position that the Raiders' offense rarely gets. Derek Carr turned both takeaways into touchdowns.

Conley picked off Rosen’s first pass, and Carr found Jared Cook with a long throw a few plays later for a TD. Joseph corralled another off Rashaan Melvin’s tip in the second quarter, setting up Carr’s touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.

That provided most of the Raiders' offense in a game where points were at a premium.