Raiders

Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Most NFL teams know when their season’s coming to a close. A team disqualified from the postseason has a firm end date, which allows for perspective shortly after the season ends.

Jack Del Rio didn’t have that luxury. He fully expected to be preparing for the AFC’s divisional round on Sunday afternoon, not reviewing a season formally done.

That was his lot following Saturday’s 27-14 loss in Houston, which closed the Raiders season with two straight losses that killed hopes of a division title and advancement in the playoffs.

It was a rough fortnight for Del Rio, who lost starting quarterback Derek Carr and left tackle Donald Penn to injury and had illness run rampant through his locker room.

The season’s abrupt, unwelcome end left the Raiders "a little raw" less than 24 hours after it came to a close, but Del Rio still believes significant progress was made.

“We’ll definitely be able to look back and be proud of what we accomplished this year,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “Then you let that sting that you feel from having it end the way it did be a reminder of how hard you need to push, how much work is in front of us, and let that fuel the type of offseason we need to have.

“We should expect more, and I’m going to demand more. We’ll evaluate everything. That’s what you do this time of year."

The Raiders will have high expectations after improving from 7-9 in 2015 to 12-4 this year, especially with a few missions unaccomplished in 2016. The Raiders didn’t win the AFC West. They didn’t host a playoff game, or advance in the postseason.

There will be plenty of positives to be analyzed in coming weeks, but Del Rio won’t look at the 2016 season as a gold standard. He’ll want more from next year’s group.

“There’s been a great deal accomplished, there’s no question about that. Is it enough? No,” Del Rio said. “I want more. We want more. As an organization, our goals are higher. So, that’s not going to change. We’re not going to pretend that it wasn’t really good. You win 12 games, that’s hard to do in this league. We won six in a row at one stretch and never really had back-to-back losses prior to yesterday.

“A lot of really good things were going on and are going on. We want to build on those. Recognize where we need to be better, and there’s several areas where we must be better in. Just kind of own up to it and roll up our sleeves and get busy.”

Del Rio will lead a complete roster evaluation, and decide where upgrades can be made. There could be changes to the coaching staff. That remains uncertain.

The Raiders definitely won’t stand pat, even with Carr’s injury complicating whether this roster was good enough for a Super Bowl run with the MVP candidate at the helm.

“We made great strides, but there’s still work to be done,” Del Rio said. “It’s not like there’s any one area where I feel like I can just say, ‘Yeah, we’ve arrived.’ I don’t feel that way. I feel like we have a really good team and I feel like there are many areas where we can improve and must improve to be the kind of football team that I want us to be.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

PHOENIX – The Raiders will spend one more season in Oakland, the final stretch of a prolonged transition from the East Bay to Las Vegas.

It will happen at the Oakland Coliseum, after NFL owners unanimously approved a new lease agreement on Monday at the annual league meeting. It was the last of four approval votes to validate a pact to play 2019 in Oakland.

It brought owner Mark Davis great relief, which was written on his face while speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area in the Arizona Biltmore hotel’s main lobby.

“I won’t work out a stadium lease again in my lifetime,” Davis said with a smile.

His search for a place to play 2019 has been stressful. The Raiders abandoned negotiations with the Oakland Coliseum in December 2018, after Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust violations and breach of contract.

That sent the Raiders searching outside the market, into negotiations with the San Francisco Giants to play at Oracle Park and the undesirable Levi’s Stadium option. They all proved fruitless, sending the Raiders back to work out a deal with the Oakland Coliseum.

Now the Oakland Coliseum deal is done, including a 2020 option to account for unforeseen Las Vegas stadium delays. In short, there’s the clear path to Las Vegas.

Davis is happy to have a place to play until the Raiders debut in the Silver State.

“I think (Raiders president Marc Badain and Raiders general counsel Dan Ventrelle), with both hands tied behind their back, did a really admirable job working with the city (of Oakland) and getting a deal done under tough circumstances,” Davis said. “We’re ready to go.”

Despite pulling his Raiders up and leaving for Las Vegas, Davis still holds affection for the Raiders’ Bay Area fan base, and hopes to honor the team’s past before starting a new chapter in franchise history.

“The main thing here is that we get to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the AFL and the Raiders in the Bay Area, which I was hoping to do all along,” Davis said. “That’s going to be exciting.”

While he’ll look back on his team’s tradition in 2019, Davis is focused on the future and a rapidly progressing stadium in Las Vegas.

“I go by it and water it,” Davis said with a smile. “Then I come back a couple weeks later and it grows.”

[RELATED: Carr's status unchanged with Raiders]

While there have been minor delays, the new venue opening just off the Las Vegas Strip should be ready to host games in Aug. 2020. A state-of-the-art training facility is being built in nearby Henderson, Nevada, and that could be ready around June 2020.

Until then, however, the Raiders have a place to play in Oakland as this long transition comes to a close.

Antonio Brown appears to take shot at Steelers after Mike Tomlin's comments

Antonio Brown appears to take shot at Steelers after Mike Tomlin's comments

There's no love lost between Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That much is clear.

By now you know the story. The star wide receiver wore out his welcome in the Steel City, demanding to be traded this offseason due to reported issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin.

Brown got his wish and was traded to the Raiders on March 9, but that doesn't mean he's ready to let bygones be bygones, as the 30-year-old star fired off a cryptic tweet Monday afternoon that was pointed directly at Tomlin and the Steelers.

Confused? We'll explain.

Earlier Monday at the NFL owners meeting, Tomlin gave his first comments since the end of the Steelers' season and he had a few things to say about his former receiver and former running back Le'Veon Bell.

It was a rough offseason for Tomlin, who lost his star receiver and running back and will enter the 2019 season with an aging quarterback and middle of the road defense.

So it's easy to understand why he's a bit salty.

[RELATED: Raiders can benefit from chip on AB's shoulder]

As for Brown, he got exactly what he asked for when the Steelers traded him to Oakland. He got away from Roethlisberger, inked a new contract and the Raiders didn't have to give up the world to acquire the All-Pro receiver.

All that's left for Brown to do is make the Steelers regret the way things unfolded by putting up huge numbers for the Silver and Black in 2019.