Del Rio is a great coach, and rightly loved by Raider Nation. He’s a gambler, a rogue in the mold of his hometown team, and the Nation loves him for it. No doubt.
But when is enough enough? Del Rio shows infinite trust in his players, as evidenced by the two-point call in New Orleans and the 4th down TD against the Falcons.
But his decision to go for it on 4th & 2 in a tight game against an offense that couldn’t be stopped? Questionable. After it backfired, definitely foolish.
You don’t want a coach with onions to put them back on the shelf, but you do want them to coach prudently when game situations dictate. Such as in a tight game when you have an excellent punter to play field position battle.
What I’m saying is we want Del Rio to be Del Rio — but when it makes sense. Taking chances all the time isn’t taking risks — it’s being foolish.
This team has lacked discipline, which is as Raiders as it gets, but it wasn’t expected under this staff. Del Rio preached intelligence and accountability all offseason, and has seen his team rack up a frustrating 23 penalties for 199 yards in two games, second only to the Detroit Lions.
He’s also seen an expensive and touted defense do anything but play defense, so much so that he relieved Norton of play-calling duties late in the Falcons game. He benched Ben Heeney, the second defensive starter benched in as many weeks for poor performance.
In short, the “nobel prize for chemistry” that I opined Del Rio may get after a feel-good offseason is definitely in jeopardy. The defense couldn’t tell you the main elements on the periodic table and nobody seems to be teaching them quickly.
The coaching staff is under pressure to make smart coaching decisions but still play to win — a tough balancing act, but it can be done. They are also under pressure to get the penalties in order, get the defense to play with more discipline and gap control, and to get this team back on the right path.
It just seems like things are slipping a bit after nothing has worked on defense for two straight weeks.