Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio sat before assembled media on Monday afternoon, ready to revisit the horrors of Sunday’s disastrous 33-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Del Rio was as blunt and honest as the day before, when he made no excuses for his team’s uninspired play. Silver linings weren’t on Monday’s docket either, even when asked about strong points of a weak performance.
“I don’t care to share any bright spots right now,” Del Rio said. “We’ll just deal with what we need to deal with here and put it to rest.”
Monday was the Raiders’ last opportunity to be angry with the season opener, which delivered a clear message. Move on or drown in sorrow.
Del Rio spent 9 minutes, 46 seconds discussing his team’s troubles in a calm, controlled manner. He was a bit more emotional behind closed doors, expressing disappointment to his coaches and players. Then he made it clear publicly that Sunday’s effort didn’t represent new Raiders football.
Players get Mondays off this season, reporting Tuesday morning recharged with a chance to walk through some elements, work out, and start prep for the next game. The post-game break also allows time to ‘take the raw emotion out” of the last contest.
That's an important step, because the Raiders must get back to business right away. They can’t afford to let the loss linger, even a Mike Tyson gut punch that knocked wind out of a roster with its chest puffed out. The Baltimore Ravens are waiting in Week 2. These Raiders got knocked down early. Will they stand tall on the way back up?
Del Rio's Raiders should be better than Sunday. That’s what they’ve been saying. It’s what has been believed.
Fans have been questioning that after the Bengals loss, calling radio shows and flooding social media wondering if they were sold snake oil. Maybe fans were desperate to buy in after a decade-plus of awful play, all-too-eager to call gold dust a nugget.
We can all admit that Sunday’s game was a train wreck with little redeeming value. Maybe it’s an aberration, and the Raiders will show improvement throughout the season. Maybe they’ll suck, and Sunday’s experience will become the norm. We don’t know yet. It’s improper to make broad generalizations over such a small sample.
“You can’t cry right now,” receiver Michael Crabtree said. “We have 16 regular season games. That was the first one, and we lost bad. It happened, but we’ll go back to the lab and see what we can do to improve. That’s what we’re going to do.
“This isn’t the end of the world. It’s one game. We’re good. We just took and ‘L.’ What are were going to do to get a ‘W’ next week? That’s all we should be focused on.”
This loss, however, could impact others. The Raiders suffered major injuries to key players against the Bengals, which may impact their ability to win in the near future.
Looks like they dodged a bullet with quarterback Derek Carr, who was diagnosed with a hand/thumb bruise after a second-quarter injury that looked worse at the time. There’s a possibility he’ll play Sunday, which could be a boon if the injury doesn’t effect his work.
Losing Justin Ellis to an ankle injury hurts the interior defense. Injuries to Raiders safeties Nate Allen (torn MCL) and Charles Woodson (dislocated shoulder) could be debilitating. Allen will be out for a stretch at least. Woodson may try to play through pain in a shoulder harness. Regardless, an already thin position is in real trouble.
The Raiders can withstand blows at several positions – defensive line, receiver come to mind – but the secondary isn’t one.
Injuries happen in this league. After losing linebacker Terrell Suggs for the season Sunday, Baltimore won’t be sending sympathy cards this week.
Del Rio won’t sulk around the training complex, feeling sad about a homecoming gone awry. The East Bay native will try and show this team is far better than its first impression. It’s possible they will. It’s possible they go 0-2 and then 0-4 and into full-on crisis mode.
Resist the urge to panic. They lost the first round 10-8. Let’s see how these Raiders respond to a little adversity. That will tell you more than the first four quarters ever could.
“I’ve been in this league long enough to know that you don’t reach your goals in the first week," veteran defensive end Justin Tuck said. “I’ve started fast and gotten my butt kicked in at the end of the season, and I’ve started slow and won championships at the end of seasons. That’s what I’m going to continue to tell these guys.
“We still have a lot of faith in what we can do, but that really doesn’t mean much. We’ve got to go out there and do it.”