MINNEAPOLIS –- Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio saw the same weather forecasts as everyone else. Lightning and thunder was set to siege TCF Bank Stadium right around kickoff Saturday night.
He thought this preseason game at the Minnesota Vikings would get interrupted, and told his team as much before the game.
Del Rio used to coach in Jacksonville, where anti-football weather often strikes late in summer. He knew from experience a delay was in the cards.
“Just about every other game in Jacksonville this time of year, you’re going to get delayed. Those things happen,” Del Rio said. “We expected it, and we told the team today that we weren’t going to let that be an issue.”
Del Rio didn’t think weather had anything to do with his team’s uneven play, which featured too many penalties and inconsistency on offense and defense.
“I thought the energy was okay after the break,” Del Rio said.
The break lasted just over an hour, prompted by lightning strikes a little to close to the stadium. Heavy rain and more lightning followed and doubled the downtime. It was unusual for many from temperate climates, but a change in format didn’t have a major impact because the Raiders were prepared.
“It was something coach talked about today and earlier in the week,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “He said that we should embrace the change because it ultimately doesn’t matter. Put the ball down and play. That’s the mentality Coach Del Rio has brought. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in-house or outside our control. Ignore distraction and play football. I think we handled it well.”
The Raiders used the only long road trip of the preseason as a dress rehearsal for games with significant travel, which litter the regular-season slate. There are added distractions outside comfortable surroundings that shouldn’t complicate the goals of an experienced squad. The Raiders have been horrible on the road in recent seasons, a trend Del Rio desperately wants to buck.
“This is our first time on the road, and we’ll learn how to play better away from home and travel better,” Del Rio said. “We did some good things and we need to do some things better. This game doesn’t feel as good as last week, but it’s similar. There was growth and some areas where we need to be better. Those things happen this time of year.”