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.”

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

ALAMEDA – Eddie Vanderdoes knows his UCLA game tape is inconsistent. The powerful defensive tackle admits he wasn’t always at his best, especially after tearing his ACL in 2015. Before that, he was difficult to stop. Afterward, he wasn’t the same player. He doesn’t blame the knee.

He struggled with ankle injuries and weight issues in 2016, a lackluster campaign by his own standard. Since that season ended, Vanderdoes has returned to 100 percent. His ankles are fine. His knee is great. And he lost 40 pounds heading into the NFL scouting combine, preparing for a return to his old self.

The Raiders see great potential in the former Bruin and made him their third-round pick on Friday evening. The Auburn native was excited by the prospect, and believes the Raiders will get his absolute best. His voice was passionate, his determination clear even on a conference call with local press.

“I am going to be the player I was earlier in my career,” Vanderdoes said. “I had a bad season. That wasn’t me. That’s not the person that I am. That’s not the character that I hold. I’m definitely going to bring that to the Raiders’ defensive line. I’m going to bring that energy and I’m really happy to be an Oakland Raider.”

The Raiders will be thrilled if that’s true. They liked what he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, where he showed traits that should translate to NFL production.

“I am definitely back 100 percent, very confident with the combine, the Senior Bowl,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my explosiveness back. I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I am definitely at the top of shape right now, so I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player that they saw on the film and the player that they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads and do things that some people might expect that I couldn’t do.”

That includes rushing the passer, being a consistent three-down tackle in the Raiders scheme. He might be a rotational player first, filling the void created when Stacy McGee left in free agency.

“He’s a good, active defensive lineman that we think his best football is in front of him,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He had an ACL (injury) a couple of years ago. His weight has been up and down. We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with (head strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. He needs to come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”

Vanderdoes believes he can do more than that if he does things right. If his weight stays down, strength stays up and he learns the system well, he wants to compete for a significant role as a rookie.

“I’m coming in expecting to contribute and play right away,” Vanderdoes said. “That’s the mindset that I’ve always had. I’ve came with that mindset that I need to be the guy to step in and do what I do and dominate. I definitely think people slept on me a little bit this past offseason.

“I love the fact that (the NFL) slept on me, I think that’s what motivated me every morning waking up, knowing that I get to prove people wrong. I think I’ve done a good job so far of that, and I’m going to keep doing as well being an Oakland Raider because I know I’m at the bottom again. I have to work my way back up.”

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been focused on the NFL Draft the last few days, and rightfully so. Friday night, however, was the right time to ask about what happened just before.

The Raiders acquired power running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch. If he’s close to top form after a year away from the NFL, the Raiders offense will be tough to stop.

He’s a big physical rusher the Raiders were looking for. The Raiders were the team Lynch wants to finish his career representing. The Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum might be the town’s most popular citizen, someone who consistently gives back to the city he loves.

Lynch was downright giddy after formally signing with the Raiders, greeting everyone in the building with child-like enthusiasm. He got fitted in his Raiders helmet and refused to take it off, wearing it out of the building and the car ride home.

Del Rio loved the energy Lynch brought to the team’s complex, and believes that will carry on while he represents the Silver and Black.

“Authentic passion. That’s what I see,” Del Rio said Friday night. “He’s a homegrown guy. He’s extremely excited about joining this football team and being a part of the Raider Nation. We’re excited to have him.”

Lynch is a bruiser of the highest order, though some may wonder how effective he can be at 31, a year removed from professional football.

“There will be questions about how much is left in his tank, and we’re going to find out,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else be more excited, more pleased to be joining a team, my team, our team.”

Del Rio understands where Lynch is coming from. The Hayward native longed to be a Raider at some point in his career, but never got the chance.

I told him he was lucky, because I didn’t get a chance to do that as player. I wanted to finish here as a player too. He’s getting that chance and he’s fired up about it.

“He’s a big man, and he plays with the violence that we like and appreciate. I think he’ll look forward to running behind (the Raiders offensive line) and those guys up front.”