The Oakland Raiders are in the news for all the wrong reasons recently. And this recent wave of negativity has nothing to with their impending move to Las Vegas. That’s the least of the Silver and Black’s problems at the moment.
It was appalling how unprepared the Raiders were during their blowout loss to the New England Patriots in Mexico City on Sunday.
So, what was the fallout from their blowout loss to the defending champs? Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio canned Ken Norton Jr., relieving him of his duties as the defensive coordinator.
Shouldn’t Del Rio have promoted John Pagano in January when he was courted to join this disjointed coaching staff? Norton Jr. was unqualified then, too, as he ran out a basic and predictable system.
But to fire him and make him the scapegoat after getting blasted by the Patriots is just wrong. It reeks of Del Rio placing the defensive struggles on Norton Jr.
The Patriots out-scheme everyone in the NFL, so to see Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels shred the putrid Raiders defense — one that we all knew would be the weak link of the team — wasn’t the least bit surprising.
However, Del Rio is a defensive guy and has the final say. After talking to people around the Raiders, there’s no doubt in my mind that Pagano or Del Rio already had a major influence on the defense. I have a hard time believing that it was Norton Jr’s decision to have 6-foot-4, 230-pound rookie safety Obi Melifonwu extensively play cornerback against New England.
We know how the day went for Melifonwu, and that’s what made Patriots coaching staff scratch their head laughing at what they saw from across the field. They, like the rest of the football world, have no idea what Del Rio is doing with this talented roster.
What we do know about Del Rio is that he’s quick to throw a player or coach under the bus. He did it when he was the head honcho in Jacksonville and he’s doing it again in Oakland.
Think about this: Del Rio has fired 3 coaches since January. He’s fired 22 in his coaching career and unless Todd Downing can fix the offense, he’ll be axed shortly after the season.
Players have to make plays, I get that. Amari Cooper has been a colossal disappointment, leading the league in drops. The most expensive offensive line in football has epitomized the word “inconsistent,” and Derek Carr has regressed — there’s no getting around that.
Downing deserves blame for not being creative enough as the offense fails to function at the level it did in 2016. They’re currently the 21st-ranked offense, averaging 326.5 yards per game. A year ago, the Raiders offense was the sixth-best in the NFL, averaging 373.3 yards per game.
All across the board, the offense has stunk in 2017, so sure, Downing deserves blame. But, I’m looking at Del Rio for promoting Downing into a position he’s never held on a team many expected to contend for a Super Bowl.
Lucky for Del Rio, owner Mark Davis approved a new four-year deal for him, so he isn’t going anywhere. But how many of you believe he’s the guy who can help lead the Raiders back into the playoffs?
After listening to Del Rio sound clueless on his weekly appearance on 95.7 The Game with Damon Bruce, I have serious doubts he can handle this challenge.
They’re 4-6 and two games behind the first-place Kansas Chiefs in the AFC West, but despite all the mudslinging Del Rio has thrown around this season — he’s the guy you should blame for this underwhelming season.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.