Del Rio: Raiders need to be better, even after 7-2 start

Del Rio: Raiders need to be better, even after 7-2 start

The Raiders were up two scores late in Sunday night’s game against Denver, with one objective in mind.

Kill the clock.

The Broncos had just cut the lead to 10 points with a quick touchdown. Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t want to give them another chance.

A Raiders run game that dominated from the outset was asked to be a closer, to put the Broncos away with a long, sustained drive.

The offense took possession with five minutes left, and only cut Denver’s clock in half. The Broncos got the ball back, but squandered an opportunity. Reggie Nelson intercepted a pass four snaps later to secure a 30-20 victory that put the Raiders atop the AFC West.

Del Rio was obviously happy with a dominant win over a division rival. He wants more. He wants better, even after the season’s most complete game.

“I think it was closest,” Del Rio said. “I think all three phases certainly contributed in the game. I think they had really good moments, all three. We see a lot of things that can be better. That’s what we’re going to keep working at. I don’t know if you ever reach that perfect performance you’re striving for anyway, but there are things that we need to clean up that we need to be better at.”

Welcome, Raiders fans, to Del Rio’s new world order.

Standards are sky high for a recently downtrodden franchise in the midst of a renaissance. The Raiders are 7-2 heading into a bye week, but Del Rio believes they can be better.

Del Rio hosts “Tell the Truth Tuesday” each week, where he’s brutally honest with players and coaches about past performance. The players got this Tuesday off during a bye week, but the reaper’s coming before Wednesday’s practice. But, after Sunday’s resounding win, Del Rio will pass out candy and coal.

“We’re telling the truth about the good, too,” Del Rio said. “So we’re showing really physical play and we’re showing the things we want to see; the crisp effort and acknowledging what was really good. Then we’re going to be honest about things we have to do better, and that’s everywhere. That starts with me. I’ll point out a thing or two that I could have done better. That’s really how we approach it. Nobody is shielded from that. Nobody is above criticism or above being able to be held accountable.”

Del Rio might have to nit pick. The offense is well balanced and scoring 27.5 points per game. The coverage units are top notch. Even a widely criticized defense is on the rise after allowing less than 300 yards in consecutive games.

His players aren’t satisfied, clearly hoping to do something special this season. They trust Del Rio’s process, and trust that he wants and expects more.

“I’m pretty straightforward about it with the staff and with the players about what we’re looking for and what championship football looks like,” Del Rio said. “We’re just going to push for it. It takes time to develop and to grow. The good news is we recognize where these areas are, yet we’re winning. Being able to win, you put that big smile on. You go home and feel good about things. Lay your head down at night, but wake up in the morning knowing you have work to do and there are things we must improve.”

Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm


Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm

Raider Nation has a heavy heart at the moment.

Former linebacker Neiron Ball, Oakland's fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Florida, suffered a brain aneurysm on Sept. 16 and is currently in a medically induced coma. He is not responding to stimuli. The Raiders sent out a tweet Tuesday asking for thoughts and prayers for the 26-year-old.

News of Ball's situation was first made public by people that run the Facebook page for his old school district in Georgia. Ball attended Jackson High School in the Butts County School System.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, in 2011 while at Florida, Ball was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, "a tangling of blood vessels." Surgery to alleviate the issue cost him the 2011 season.

"I can't really explain it," Ball told the Orlando Sentinel in 2012. "The closest thing I can think is somebody just smushing my brain...Like somebody was squeezing my brain."

Ball appeared in six games his rookie season with the Raiders, recording four tackles and one sack. A knee injury forced the Raiders to place him on injured reserve.

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Mike Nugent is dealing with a hip injury suffered in a loss to Miami, which forced the Raiders to work out several kickers Tuesday morning. The Silver and Black have chosen to sign undrafted rookie Matt McCrane, according to NFL Network.

McCrane spent the summer with the Arizona Cardinals and played college ball at Kansas State. He was 4-for-4 on field goals in the preseason, including two from beyond 50 yards. 

While the team hasn't announced his addition, McCrane has already added "kicker for Oakland Raiders" on his Twitter profile. The account, however, is not verified. 

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden didn't formally rule Nugent out of Sunday's game against Cleveland, but his hip injury is of concern. Nugent has been solid since assuming the kicking job this regular season. He was 6-for-6 on field goal attempts, including two conversions from 50-plus yards. 

The Raiders worked out McCrane, 2017 kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, among others on Tuesday. Tavecchio was released early in camp for Nugent, who was expected to be Eddy Pineiro's mentor during the preseason. Pineiro suffered a groin injury at the end of training camp and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.