At most critical moment, Jack Del Rio punts away any chance for Raiders

OAKLAND — Whether it’s fair or not to define the decision within a vacuum, cut off from the countless others an NFL head coach might make over 60 minutes, isn’t the point.

If trust was the central reasoning for why Jack Del Rio made the call he did at the most critical part of his team’s game Sunday, someone didn’t earn his confidence.

He either trusted an ineffective defense too much or an offense led by a backup quarterback not at all.

Either way, the result wasn’t good.

The Raiders lost for a third straight time in falling to Baltimore 30-17 before 54,980 at the Coliseum, the beginning of three consecutive home games for a silver and black side that that is beyond pedestrian in almost every area right now.

“We just keep getting our ass whupped,” said Raiders running back Jalen Richard. “I guess it’s going to come down to when we’re tired of getting our ass whupped.”

Well after a disastrous beginning, when a Ravens team that hadn’t scored in either first half of their two previous games led 14-0 before most fans found their seats, the Raiders were actually still breathing midway through the fourth quarter.

They trailed 27-17 when facing a fourth-and-3 from the Baltimore 44 and 8:50 remaining, having used the previous four minutes to move the ball from the 20.

Del Rio chose to punt, and if that surprises you, it should for many reasons.

It’s not to say his has been a coaching career defined by countless gambles, but this is the same guy who went for 2 at New Orleans last season to win and has definitely shown a taste to be more aggressive than not in such times.

There is also this: A 16-game season offers different types of crossroads, some far more significant than others, and the Raiders certainly faced one Sunday with a 2-2 record and chasing undefeated Kansas City in the AFC West.

They were at home. They had a manageable distance to earn the first down. They had a defense on the sideline that in its previous series had allowed a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive to Baltimore that covered over five minutes.

They needed two scores.

They needed to go for it.

“Hindsight is always 20/20 on things like that,” Del Rio said. “You’re thinking you’re going to pin them inside the 10 and we didn’t. You’re thinking the defense will give us a stop and get us the ball back, and we didn’t. A fourth-down call with nine minutes left in the game, 10 minutes, was that the difference? I don’t think so.”

Again, 8:50 isn’t 10 and while it wasn’t the total difference, it was huge.

Marquette King’s punt, 47.4 percent of which have been downed inside the 20 this season, went into the end zone for a touchback. The defense not only didn’t stop Baltimore, but was gashed for a 13-play, 54-yard scoring drive that left no doubt in the outcome and, while lasting 6:26, probably felt like twice that to Del Rio.

It’s true King should be expected to do his part, but the Raiders were shaky defensively from the game’s first play — a 52-yard completion from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace.

There is also the idea about EJ Manuel playing quarterback for the Raiders over the injured Derek Carr, and if Del Rio would have chosen a different path had his $125 million starter been under center.

“I play football,” Richard said. “I’m not an (offensive coordinator). I’m not a head coach who has to (balance) the risk and reward. It would have been cool for them to say, ‘Hey, y’all go get it.’ But they made their decision and we trusted it and walked off the field. If we don’t trust them, it’s never going to work. If they don’t trust us, it’s not going to work. There has to be trust among everybody.”

Who, really, then, did or didn’t Del Rio trust?

The odds his strategy for punting would work given how the game had played out to that point was about as certain as fans being happy with it, which by the loud chorus of boos ringing throughout the stadium as King trotted onto the field told you where the faithful stood.

The Raiders allowed scoring drives of 75, 75, 70, 72 and 54 yards.

And yet when the game’s most critical call needed to be made, Del Rio believed his defense was good enough.

Or his offense wasn’t.

Or something.

Either way, the result wasn’t good and the Raiders are three games back of the Chiefs and going the wrong way.

Football games aren’t played in a vacuum, but they are defined by specific moments.

At his team’s biggest one Sunday, Del Rio whiffed.

They needed to go for it.

They needed to at least try and give themselves a chance.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
More information on design of Raiders' practice facility in Henderson
Officials plan to finish the Raiders' Henderson headquarters by spring 2020. The planned facility would be home to offices, training facilities and 4 1/2 football fields.
Vegas Nation: Leon Hall battles sickle cell illness
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Leon Hall's sickle cell illness that prevented the cornerback from flying home with the team last week in Denver.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Week 3
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano answer your burning questions about the Raiders and Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Practice After Loss To Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over how Jon Gruden is improving the team after the 20-19 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Gruden touts Carr's pocket presence
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hopes to get bigger plays from Derek Carr as the season rolls along, and the coach praises Carr's ability to feel pressure in the pocket.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Pass Rush Noticeably Lacking
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about another poor pass rushing performance by the Raiders defense as the team looks ahead to Miami.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Fall To The Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over the Raiders 19-20 loss against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: Kolton Miller prepares for Von Miller matchup on Sunday
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken previews the upcoming matchup between rookie left tackle Kolton Miller and Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
Vegas Nation: Bryant ready to play for Raiders immediately
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Martavis Bryant's return to the Raiders practice field, as well as a potential suspension for the wide receiver.
Martavis Bryant "Very Surprised" with Raiders Re-Signing
Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant speaks with the media for the first time since the team cut and re-signed him within a ten day time frame.
Vegas Nation Mailbag
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over Raider Nation's reaction to the Raiders loss to the Rams.
Vegas Nation: Martavis Bryant Returns to the Raiders
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda as Martavis Bryant returns to the Raiders and Oakland picks up to new defensive linemen.
Gruden, Carr Believe Bryant is in a "Good Place"
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and starting quarterback Derek Carr talk about Martavis Bryant returning with the team after being cut over a week ago.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium Progress
Construction at Las Vegas Raiders stadium as seen on September 11, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Las Vegas sports books will be Raiders fans in season opener
Las Vegas sports books will be big Raiders fans in Oakland's season opener. Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Raiders name 4 locations for stadium parking
Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and business reporter Rick Velotta discuss the Raiders' four proposed stadium parking locations and what that could mean for tailgating and traffic to and from the stadium.
Vegas Nation: AJ McCarron Learns Gruden's Playbook
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over AJ McCarron learning Gruden's offense before the Raiders play the L.A. Rams on Monday.
Kolton Miller "excited", "a little nervous" for regular season debut
Raiders starting rookie left tackle Kolton miller talks about his impending regular season debut against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Khalil Mack trade
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over what Raider Nation thinks about the Raiders before their first game against the Rams.
Amari Cooper Ready for Monday Night Football
Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper looks forward to team's season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Vegas Nation 9.3 Alt
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about the team's first practice after the Khalil Mack trade, and the player's reaction to the trade.
Vegas Nation 9.2 Alt
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda, Calif. as Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time after Khalil Mack's trade to Chicago.
Derek Carr looks toward career without 'brother' Khalil Mack
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media for the first time following Khalil Mack's trade to the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
Gruden Addresses Khalil Mack Trade
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time following defensive end Khalil Mack's trade to the Chicago Bears.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hold first practice since Khalil Mack trade
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about the team's first practice after the Khalil Mack trade, and the player's reaction to the trade.
Marshawn Lynch celebrates grand opening of his Las Vegas store with fans and family
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch meets with fans and discusses the opening of his store 'Beastmode' in Las Vegas.
Raiders BBQ
On Friday, July 20, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hosted — and paid for — a free barbecue for Raiders fans. Gruden teamed up with the Raiders and Ricky's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, Calif. as a way to show thanks and gratitude for the support of the Raider Nation. Over 500 Raiders fans showed up to the event that had music, raffles, and appearances from Raiders alumni. This was the final event before the Raiders begin their training camp next week in Napa. Chris Booker Las Vegas Review-Journal
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like