Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio did his weekly interview on 95.7 The Game with Damon Bruce on Monday. He’s been doing these all season long and while the interviews often provide fascinating tidbits, this week’s edition provided big time insight into what’s ailing this Raiders team.
After being blown out by the Patriots, you knew the interview was going to be an interesting one. Damon Bruce is well known in the industry for being willing to ask tough questions and not letting his subject off of the hook with bullshit answers. Given the state of the Raiders, it was clear that Jack Del Rio was on edge and was not very happy with being asked point blank about the problems with his team.
Before I start providing quotes from the interview, I would highly suggest that everyone go listen to the interview now. Don’t worry, I will wait right here for you.
Ok, done listening? Good, now let’s get into it.
Del Rio set the tone, and a bad tone at that, from the very get go. Damon’s first question was a simple and common one asked of head coaches: “What went wrong” in the Patriots game. The answer by Del Rio was that of a child who was mad because he was being forced to sit down and do his homework: “We didn’t score enough.”
Well thanks, Jack. Wasn’t sure if that’s how one wins a football game. Very deep insight on what was one of the most embarrassing losses for the Raiders in recent memory.
Damon went on to ask what was going wrong week to week with the offense and why it can’t seem to get a rhythm. Del Rio’s response? It may feel that way but he didn’t feel like it was accurate.
It’s not accurate that the offense has been inconsistent this year? Oh, ok. That’s news to me!
The interview didn’t start well for Del Rio, and it only for worse from there.
First, he basically bragged about the fact that he had warned players during the week about ball security before basically saying that what happened with Seth Roberts was an “I told you so” moment. Because that’s some superb, unique coaching. Not many tell their players during the week that they need to not turn the ball over. Well, actually, according to Ken Norton, Jr., every team the Raiders play works really hard at not turning the ball over which is why the Raiders have no interceptions through 10 games.
But I digress.
Next, Damon Bruce asked another perfectly legitimate question about Todd Downing and the job he’s doing, pointing out the fact that this Raiders offense has regressed from last season. That’s when things got really ugly.
This answer, I will give you word for word because it’s too mind boggling to summarize. When asked about the regression of the offense, this was Del Rio’s response:
“Well that’s your interpretation. I understand that can be out there to be thought of that way. I think the reality of statistical evidence would be otherwise.”
Pause…. Wait… The statistical evidence doesn’t show that the Raiders have regressed? Hmmm, let’s ask the judges, shall we?
Everything else is not close to last year. #Raiders averaging 326.5 YPG this year; were at 373.3 last year — 6th to 21st. Run game down from 120.1 to 89.7 YPG. Have scored under 20 points six times already; did that five times all of last year. https://t.co/SImkVZ7LI0
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) November 21, 2017
Yeah…. I don’t know what statistics Del Rio is looking at, but the evidence seems blatantly clear that the Raiders offense has regressed. Like smack you in the face, you’d have to be insanely stubborn or insanely stupid not to realize they have regressed kind of obvious.
Luckily for us, Damon didn’t let Del Rio off of the hook for the asinine comment, following up by asking “You don’t agree that you had the 6th ranked offense in the NFL and now you’re the 20th?” And according to Del Rio “It depends on what statistics you look at”
No, Jack. It doesn’t. There are no stats that say the Raiders offense hasn’t regressed. It doesn’t matter what stats you look at. JUST ADMIT THE OFFENSE HAS REGRESSED. WHY WOULD YOU TRY AND PRETEND THAT ISN’T HAPPENING???
Then Del Rio got super defensive (I know… as if he wasn’t already incredibly defensive) when Bruce asked JDR who the leader in the wide receiver room is and whether they were doing their job considering all of the drops this season. Del Rio’s response wasn’t a response at all, instead he took a pot shot at Bruce for doing nothing more than his job:
“Well look I’m not sure what kind of show you want to have today. I’m doing the best I can to talk about our football team and it sounds like you want to try and pin it on somebody. I always offer up my own neck and if you want to pin it on somebody, pin it on me.”
I will give Del Rio credit for saying to put it on his shoulders. That’s something I’ve asked to see more of from Del Rio so that’s great. But the petty response of insulting Damon, as though his questions were out of line, just went to show how Del Rio does not like actually digging deep and getting into what is wrong with this team.
Finally, when asked how things are going to get better given the lack of room for any error the rest of the season. Del Rio did his ultimate “dig a hole and bury your head in the sand” response:
“Well it gets better by actually putting in the work and not by sitting around trying to figure out who to blame next. That’s the best thing we can do, work towards getting better. Keep our wits about us. Don’t fall prey to the avalanche of negativity out there when people get their feelings hurt…”
But here’s the thing, coach. First of all, have you not actually been putting the work in? Because if the problem is the team not putting work in then there’s a HUGE problem here. And while the blame game isn’t necessarily constructive, self reflection is. Everyone on that Raiders staff should be not only willing but wanting to look at themselves and each other to figure out what is going wrong. It’s not about placing blame, it’s about identifying problems and fixing them.
And THAT is the biggest problem this team has. Their head coach isn’t interested in identifying problems and fixing them. He’s far too stubborn for that. Instead, he sticks to his coordinator’s and their schemes as though the playbooks were written by the hand of god and cannot be questioned. Instead of looking for fault in coaching, Del Rio would rather point his finger at the players and claim they simply aren’t working hard enough.
Which is why the Raiders will not get things figured out this season and likely won’t ever reach their full potential under the guidance of Coach Jack Del Rio.