Raiders

Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Most NFL teams know when their season’s coming to a close. A team disqualified from the postseason has a firm end date, which allows for perspective shortly after the season ends.

Jack Del Rio didn’t have that luxury. He fully expected to be preparing for the AFC’s divisional round on Sunday afternoon, not reviewing a season formally done.

That was his lot following Saturday’s 27-14 loss in Houston, which closed the Raiders season with two straight losses that killed hopes of a division title and advancement in the playoffs.

It was a rough fortnight for Del Rio, who lost starting quarterback Derek Carr and left tackle Donald Penn to injury and had illness run rampant through his locker room.

The season’s abrupt, unwelcome end left the Raiders "a little raw" less than 24 hours after it came to a close, but Del Rio still believes significant progress was made.

“We’ll definitely be able to look back and be proud of what we accomplished this year,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “Then you let that sting that you feel from having it end the way it did be a reminder of how hard you need to push, how much work is in front of us, and let that fuel the type of offseason we need to have.

“We should expect more, and I’m going to demand more. We’ll evaluate everything. That’s what you do this time of year."

The Raiders will have high expectations after improving from 7-9 in 2015 to 12-4 this year, especially with a few missions unaccomplished in 2016. The Raiders didn’t win the AFC West. They didn’t host a playoff game, or advance in the postseason.

There will be plenty of positives to be analyzed in coming weeks, but Del Rio won’t look at the 2016 season as a gold standard. He’ll want more from next year’s group.

“There’s been a great deal accomplished, there’s no question about that. Is it enough? No,” Del Rio said. “I want more. We want more. As an organization, our goals are higher. So, that’s not going to change. We’re not going to pretend that it wasn’t really good. You win 12 games, that’s hard to do in this league. We won six in a row at one stretch and never really had back-to-back losses prior to yesterday.

“A lot of really good things were going on and are going on. We want to build on those. Recognize where we need to be better, and there’s several areas where we must be better in. Just kind of own up to it and roll up our sleeves and get busy.”

Del Rio will lead a complete roster evaluation, and decide where upgrades can be made. There could be changes to the coaching staff. That remains uncertain.

The Raiders definitely won’t stand pat, even with Carr’s injury complicating whether this roster was good enough for a Super Bowl run with the MVP candidate at the helm.

“We made great strides, but there’s still work to be done,” Del Rio said. “It’s not like there’s any one area where I feel like I can just say, ‘Yeah, we’ve arrived.’ I don’t feel that way. I feel like we have a really good team and I feel like there are many areas where we can improve and must improve to be the kind of football team that I want us to be.”

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

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AP

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

ALAMEDA – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn missed training camp holding out for a new, more lucrative contract. He missed Tuesday’s practice, the first back at the team’s training facility.

His protest began 26 days ago. The regular season is 19 days away.

Penn has worked out with top trainers and private offensive line coaches while away from the team, but still needs time to get back in the flow.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Penn is expected back this week. He wasn’t there for the first of three sessions when the Raiders will focus on the third preseason game at Dallas. It’s the last meaningful exhibition, with players down on the depth chart expected to populate the preseason finale versus Seattle.

Penn doesn’t necessarily need to play in a preseason game to prep for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Tennessee, but it could help.

Head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t address Penn’s status, or whether there’s a deadline for him to report and be ready for the regular season.

The Raiders have managed with Marshall Newhouse on the left and Vadal Alexander on the right. The pair has fared well, though the line will be significantly stronger with Penn back and a Newhouse/Alexander competition on the right.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie made it clear weeks ago that the Raiders wouldn’t talk contract until a player reports. Penn preferred a contract get done before showing up. Weeks were lost to that impasse.

Quarterback Derek Carr hopes it will end soon, and that Penn will come back to the team.

“It would obviously mean a lot, if that’s what he chooses to do,” Carr said. “He’s our teammate. We want all our teammates here. We want to work hard together. We want to be together and joke together. It’s more than just football. We want to be there in his life, with him.

"It would mean a lot. Obviously, I would love it.”

If McGregor beats Mayweather, Raiders may move to Dublin

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AP

If McGregor beats Mayweather, Raiders may move to Dublin

So Las Vegas’ army of legal books are in a moderate panic because they are so overexposed with Conor McGregor bets. Apparently, other than the Maloof brothers, they can’t scare up any Mayweather money at all.

Maybe this is the secret reason Mark Davis has declared publicly that the Raiders intend to colonize Los Angeles.

The latest evidence of the books’ distress is this Big Lead headline, which subtly hints, “Vegas Sportsbooks Are Exposed Like Never Before, Will Be Decimated if Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather.”

Well, if McGregor wins (and you’ll have to tell me about it because I’d rather watch feet sweat in the noonday sun than this), gambling in Vegas apparently will not exist any longer because the sporting apocalypse will finally be upon us. And if there is no gambling in Vegas, there is no Vegas, and all of a sudden the Raiders are moving to a town whose mayor is an iguana and whose chamber of commerce is tumbleweeds.

Hence, Davis’ answer to a question from Los Angeles Daily News writer Vincent Bonsignore about how L.A. has always been a Raiders’ town and that the team will get lots of its fans from the basin – fans who apparently cannot stomach either the Rams or the Chargers.

Ignoring Davis’ folly of answering that question that way at this time, when the NFL itself is wondering if, for its financial purposes, the mayor of L.A. is an iguana and the chamber of commerce is tumbleweeds, this news reminds us that the league has managed in less than two years to ruin the second-largest market in the United States by dithering, by backroom deals, by aversion of money spent by “the wrong kind of people” (see “brown”). That level of chaos is to be appreciated and enjoyed for what it is – nature’s way of telling rich people who’s boss.

Now, if nature doubles down and figures a way to make McGregor win and break Vegas, maybe the entire down isn’t destroyed but instead becomes a colony of Ireland, where the prime minister is not an iguana but a human, and the closest thing to tumbleweeds is a Guinness brewery.

Maybe if that happens, the Raiders end up playing in Dublin instead (a delightful little asterisk since there was a perfectly good Dublin not far from Oakland to begin with) – and they spend their entire time complaining that they have to share Croke Park and that there are too many markings on the field from all those damned hurling matches.

Of course this isn’t likely to happen, and Vegas keeps taking all the McGregor money you can throw at it. But one of these times, and sooner than we think, the apocalypse is not going to take no for an answer, and you will see Mark Davis with a pipe stuck bowl downward in his mouth standing next to a pot of gold.

Which of course will belong to the Bank Of America, because there are some things even the apocalypse can’t beat.