When the Las Vegas Raiders hired Jack Del Rio as head coach in 2015, he quickly turned the franchise around. After missing the playoffs every year since 2002, Del Rio led the team to a 12-4 record and a playoff berth in just his second year. It looked like the start of something great for the silver and black but the fall was just as quick as the rise. The 2016 season was excellent and the Raiders were a popular Super Bowl pick heading into 2017.
Unfortunately, the team fell apart and ended that season with a 6-10 record. Instead of giving Del Rio one more season to get the team back on track, owner Mark Davis fired him and replaced him with Jon Gruden.
Del Rio is now the defensive coordinator for the Washington Football Team and is getting his first chance to play the Raiders since his firing on Sunday. One of the most notable things to happen during Del Rio’s time in Oakland was the emergence of quarterback Derek Carr. He went from a struggling young quarterback to an MVP candidate under the coach. Though the two are no longer on the same team, Del Rio praised Carr ahead of their matchup.
“Derek’s a good player,” Del Rio said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s having a good year, probably as good a year as he’s had since year two of our time being there when he really tore it up. So, he’s doing a nice job directing the offense, making a lot of throws, and he’s got some good weapons and they’re doing a nice job with him.”
Del Rio also had a chance to talk about if he sees anything different in Carr now.
“The same guy. He was good when we had him and he’s good now,” Del Rio said. “He’s doing a nice job. I think he’s leading the league in passing right now and they have weapons and they do a good job of getting them open and him delivering the ball to them.”
Del Rio’s defense is going to have its hands full against the Raiders offense. If anybody knows Carr inside and out, it’s Del Rio so it should make for an interesting matchup.
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Del Rio Hoping to Keep Raiders From Making Big Plays
The Raiders’ offense has been most effective when they move the ball through the air with deep shots. Carr is leading the NFL with 31 big-time throws this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Del Rio knows what Washington needs to do to stop the Raiders offense.
“We don’t want anybody to catch a long one,” Del Rio said. “[DeSean Jackson is] definitely a guy that can go vertical. We recognize that they have several players that are capable. [Bryan] Edwards gets vertical. I mean, [Zay] Jones gets vertical. They’ve got a good group and they got a quarterback that’s getting the ball to them, so we gotta be on top of it.”
Del Rio Has No Hard Feelings Toward Raiders
Had Gruden not become available, it’s possible that Del Rio would still be the Raiders’ head coach. Even after the disastrous 2017 season, the coach still had a 25-23 record in his three seasons. Del Rio is from the Bay Area and grew up a Raiders fan so he still has a love for the team despite how things ended.
“I’ve always enjoyed competing against them when I’m there,” Del Rio said. “And I enjoyed the time when I was the head coach and thought we had a good solid run while I was there, but it’s unique. I think the fans there are tremendous and this will be a great experience for our guys to go into that atmosphere.”