This is a warning to the Raiders. If you want to draw fans to that $2 billion stadium out on The Strip where Sinatra and the Rat Pack used to hang out, you’d better get your act together. Las Vegas isn’t Oakland.
They want winners there.
Over here in Northern Cal so do we, but there’s a degree of loyalty — patience, even. We’ve been through the mill and the various changes in coaches.
We know the defense is lousy — that it’s been lousy for years. We keep thinking things will improve, and life being what it is, they’ll improve just about the time Mark Davis drags the team across the state line to Nevada.
Right now at the Coliseum, in the last shared baseball/football stadium remaining — yes the A’s return today — it’s agony by, well, the yards, those gained by the opposing team.
On a glorious Sunday, if you don’t include the result, the Atlanta Falcons rolled up 528 of those (yikes!) and defeated the Raiders, 35-28.
The only two weeks of this 2016 season, the Las Vegas, nee Oakland, Raiders have been unable in either game to hold the other team under 500 yards. New Orleans gained 507 a week ago, but somehow the Raiders won that one.
This one the Raiders led a couple times, as late as the opening minutes of the second half. Then it was Atlanta running and passing with only marginal resistance.
Then also it was Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, a onetime linebacker, calling the defensive plays instead of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
“We expected to play a lot better on defense,” was Del Rio’s confession.”We’re giving away too many pays that should be routine and easy plays — and allowing them to not only be made but go for chunks.”
Such as Matt Ryan’s 48-yard pass play to Julio Jones early in the third quarter with the scored tied, 21-21. Or Devonta Freeman’s bursts which were good for 93 yards rushing, an average of 5.5 yards.
It used to be if you couldn’t stop the run, you were in great trouble. These days, with rules changes and massive defensive linemen, the emphasis is on stopping the pass. Since Ryan completed 26 of 34 for 396 yards and three touchdowns, it’s apparent the Raiders were unable.
To repeat a truism: You win on defense because if the other team doesn’t score, it’s impossible to lose. In consecutive weeks, the other teams have scored 34 and 35 points consecutively.
“It will get corrected,” promised Del Rio, “and we’ll start playing real good defense here. We had not come out of the gate the first two games doing so. That’s on us. That’s on me. It starts with me.”
But it depends on the athletes. Every year it seems the Raiders go after defenders in the draft, a Khalil Mack, a Jihad Ward. And every year, the Raiders stand in the locker room explaining why, as Del Rio referenced, the pieces don’t quite fit.
“A lot of it is mental,” said Del Rio about the failures. “Which I take full responsibility for. We have to make sure we’re teaching it better and make sure our guys understand what we’re asking them to do. Physically there are some situations there as well. The bottom line is it’s nowhere near the standard that I expect us to play.
“We’ll need to get it rectified. There’s no dancing around the subject. It’s not near what it needs to be.”
Not even close. More than 1,000 yards allowed over two weeks?
“That’s embarrassing,” said linebacker Malcolm Smith. “And this game at home. This is disappointing. We better fix it right away.”