Takeaways from a wild Week 17: Raiders axe Del Rio after losing big, zero in on Gruden

The Oakland Raiders’ 2017 ended in bizarre fashion on Sunday afternoon. The team lost in lopsided fashion to the Los Angeles Chargers, former head coach Jack Del Rio announced his own firing at the podium and one of the league’s top reporter said Round II with Jon Gruden is all but a done deal.

Here’s what we learned on the final Sunday of what has been a disastrous and chaotic season…

It’s a cold world but there was no way to bring Del Rio back. Playing amid a cacophony of Gruden grumblings, the Raiders hardly looked like a team intent on saving a coaching staff that was hanging on by a thread. Just look to the 30-10 final score.

The offense produced just 10 points, and the defense had no answers for Philip Rivers, who gashed the group for 387 yards and three touchdowns.

With Del Rio presiding over the NFL’s most disappointing team, which dropped the final four games to close the season 6-10, it was going to be nearly impossible to bring the coach back. That was especially true thanks to increasing torrent of Gruden rumors that reached a peak on Saturday night when ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that owner Mark Davis was so enthralled with the former coach that he might offer him a stake in the team.

Del Rio found out he wouldn’t be back sometime between the end of the game and when he arrived for his news conference. It was up to the dismissed coach to break the news.

“I spoke with Mark Davis after the game and Mark let me know that he’s not going to be bringing me back,” Del Rio told reporters.

Del Rio insisted that prior to Sunday he’d had no conversations with Davis suggesting his dismissal was coming.

“No. We did not.”

So, why did Davis make such a swift call? Couldn’t he have made the move later in the day?

Schefter has a theory.

“It’s simple,” Schefter said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “You don’t make that move with Jack Del Rio unless you know you can get Jon Gruden. Jon Gruden’s going to be the next coach of the Oakland Raiders. The only question is when it happens.”

Derek Carr authors a fitting finish. Like the season at large, Week 17 was forgettable for the face of the franchise.

Carr started slowly and led the Raiders to zero second-half points. Of the 243 yards that Carr tallied, 87 of them came on a second-quarter strike to Amari Cooper.

It was an impressive moment for the quarterback and the receiver but it begged a bigger question: Where the hell has that been all season?

Carr also lofted a second-quarter interception into the end zone, spoiling the Raiders’ last, best chance at scoring and sending the Chargers on their way to a 20-10 advantage. It was pick No. 13, which tied Carr’s career high from 2015.

Todd Downing’s scripts are awful. Sunday’s showing was just the latest in a long line of flat first quarters. The Raiders were blanked in the opening quarter, the eighth time that’s happened in 2017. The last time the Raiders produced more scoreless firsts? 2009 — JaMarcus Russell’s final year at the helm.

Marshawn Lynch has a 10K — and $600K — day. The Oakland Native barreled his way to 101 yards, matching his Raider high. The strong finale also makes Lynch the 31st player in NFL history to join the 10,000-rushing yard club.

Oh and there’s the money too.

Lynch surged past the 800-yard plateau, good for a $600,000 bonus.

Among the many questions the Raiders face, deciding what to do with Lynch is certainly on the list.

Speaking of which, it looks like Michael Crabtree is done in Oakland. The mercurial wide receiver wasn’t on the field for the Raiders final drive, with the team’s public relationships staff announcing his absence was not injury related. Gannon was incensed when the report reached him in the booth.

“If you behave like that, you won’t be back in Oakland next year,” Gannon said. “I can promise you that.”

Crabtree’s total yardage dropped from 1,003 to 618 in the space of a season and he was all but cut out of the game plan over the final two weeks, totaling just five targets.

Crabtree’s most memorable contribution to the season came in Week 12 when he incited a melee with the Denver Broncos, leading to a first-quarter ejection and a one-game ban.

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By John Krolik Special to The Examiner